What’s In Your Mug? The Toxic Truth About Tea



We hear about it all the time; tea is loaded with anti-oxidants and cancer fighting benefits. “Drinking just one cup of tea daily can reduce your chance of bla bla bla by 50 %..”. While many of these benefits may be true, there is also information that is often overlooked which reveals some toxic facts about the common tea brands. Do the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to drinking tea? When teas are laden with cancer-causing pesticides does it make a difference for the tea to have cancer-fighting properties? Therefore do the toxic properties cancel out the beneficial properties? Being an avid tea consumer I was very shocked and disappointed to find out that some of my favourite brands of tea were among the worst for pesticide levels. Many of these brands market their teas as being beneficial to your health, yet do nothing to control the toxins existing in the teas. Here is another clear-cut case of profit being put before people’s health.

A look inside my personal tea cupboard, just so you can appreciate how much I really love tea!

tea

Let’s take a look at some of the tea brands that contain the highest pesticide levels. Celestial Seasonings is among the worst; this makes me especially sad because I’ve always loved this tea brand (you can probably tell by my extensive collection). There’s just something so whimsical about the name Celestial Seasonings… Anyway, in a study conducted by EuroFins (a worldwide analytic testing company) 91% of Celestial Seasonings teas contained levels of pesticides that exceed the US federal limits. Considering all of the other toxins and poisons that the FDA lets slide by, this is very alarming. When Celestial Seasonings started in 1969, it was “founded on the belief that all natural teas could help people live healthier lives.” Maybe that was the case in 1969 because there weren’t as many pesticides being sprayed, but in this day and age we have to be wary of the products we are consuming.

Other notable teas containing toxic pesticides include: Tetley, Bigelow, Mighty Leaf, Teavanna, Tazo, Davids Tea and many more. Not only do many of these teas contain these toxic pesticides, many of them contain artificial flavorings as well. Also, a popular way to mask undesirable sounding ingredients is to tent them under the umbrella of “natural flavouring,” any ingredient that comes from a natural origin falls under this category. So, additives such as: Castoreum (a chemical taken out of glands from a beaver that are located near the anus,) Carmine aka Natural Red #4 (made from dried and ground up Cochina beetles, gives foods a red color,) and many more. Just because something says all natural doesn’t mean that it is a good thing for you to consume. Be sure to thoroughly read ingredient labels before purchasing; be aware of what you’re putting into your body.

Here is a chart that includes some popular tea brands and indicates whether or not they contain pesticides and additives.

Tea-Comparison-Chart

With all this being said, you may be feeling a little down in the dumps, but don’t worry! There is an upside to all of this. There are some trustworthy companies that provide quality organic teas to its consumers by monitoring the amount of pesticides and also using sustainable farming methods and fair trade standards. Some of these include: Teatulia, Numi, Zhyna’s Gypsy Tea, Choice Organics, Traditional Medicinals, Rishi and many many more; you just have to look. Even though brands like this are a little more expensive than the conventional ones, it is well worth it. Not only will you be getting the full benefit that the tea has to offer, you will be supporting ethical, sustainable and organic farming practices. The more people that switch to brands like these, the greater push conventional brands will feel to start changing their practices and principles and get with the changing times!

Tea can definitely be a great way to boost your health. Black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh teas all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant that is native to China and India. These teas contain many anti-oxidants called flavonoids; the most potent of these are known as ECGC and can help against free radicals that can contribute to a variety of cancers and heart disease. Many herbal teas contain some pretty amazing health benefits as well, although they are not as beneficial as the teas that are coming from the Camellia plant.

Now that you have learned some of the truth behind your favourite teas, you can make a more informed  and healthy choice when considering the many different types of teas that are available! I know I will…  for the love of health and tea!

Much Love

Disclaimer to Consider: As stated on their website, Glaucus Research, their clients and/ or investors hold trading positions in the securities profiled on the site and therefore stand to realize significant gains in the event that the stock price rises or declines. We personally are not able to verify this study as 100% correct but felt that the results were still worth both noting and considering in the likelihood that they are indeed true.

Sources and additional information:

http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/10-fair-trade-tea-brands-with-smart-sustainable-practices/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits?page=2

http://ecoyogini.blogspot.ca/2013/02/artificial-flavouring-in-davids-teas.html

http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/are-teavana-and-celestial-seasonings-teas-safe-to-consume

http://www.examiner.com/article/dangerously-high-pesticide-levels-found-celestial-seasonings-teas

http://foodbabe.com/2013/08/21/do-you-know-whats-really-in-your-tea/

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107 comments on “What’s In Your Mug? The Toxic Truth About Tea

  1. tali

    I make my own green tea at home, i just put some leaves in the cup, like for instance mint or sage, it’s not organic but much better still

  2. Karen

    this is celestial seasonings reply to the customers
    http://www.celestialseasonings.com/product-safety-facts

    • Mary

      Thank you for sharing…in fact I was just going to research CS since I couldn’t believe the above information in the article was true!

    • Reggie

      Who do you believe?

  3. syssojew

    Best tea ever. Teekampagne Berlin Germany…and fair!!!

  4. rubi

    I buy republic of tea at whole foods. It’s an organic store. I’m sure this is all Bullshit. I will continue buying my tea (: no matter what.THANKS alot for trying to lie to me though. LOL

    • Wow. Whole foods isn’t a completely organic store. You have to read each label, just like you need to read this article.

      • LOL @ deathtrap, its true that wholefoods isnt completely organic..and wheres the proof this article is lying?

  5. i feel that this is all specious reasoning. #1: there are no actual facts to back up these findings. how much pesticides? what kind of artificial flavors? what kind of GMOs? #2: there are no references. from where did you get this information? #3: all of these teas are SAFE or else they wouldn’t be available for consumption.

    stop the fear-mongering. if you’ve ever wiped your ass with white toilet paper, eaten at a fast food restaurant, or purchased a drink in a plastic bottle, you are being a hypocrite. stop giving people false information and stop judging people for stuff they enjoy. this article isn’t full of “helpful information,” it’s just full of first-world problems.

    • There are many things that are not safe and are available for comsumption. It would come down to what is considered safe I guess. If it won’t harm you immediately, then yes maybe you could say its safe. But long term, we know for a fact that pesticides, long term, affect health greatly. So if a tea isn’t organic it isn’t safe over long periods of time.

      The research in the article about the pesticide amounnts was based on lab results testing celestial seasoning teas.

      • colleen griffen

        (Joe)- right, pesticides are absolutely not ever safe, whole organic tea – (no bag) – are a safer way to go.

    • mikraas said: “all of these teas are SAFE or else they wouldn’t be available for consumption”
      But mikraas, think about that statement. Are you confining it to teas only? You must be because there are plenty of products available to the US-public and endorsed by the government that aren’t safe. Tobacco products come to mind most readily. Also, artificial sweeteners, OTC medications, etc.

  6. this is why i have went to whole herbs/teas, from organic companies, like Gaia or frontier,

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  9. uhsmit

    Do you have a reputable source/reference as to the pesticides that DAVIDs Tea contains? I absolutely believe that Celestial isn’t safe, but I have a hard time believing that such a environmentally and socially-conscious and involved company would use an extreme amount of pesticides.

    • I do not know for sure if they are using “an extreme amount of pesticides,” however, DavidsTea has some teas that are labelled as organic, but most aren’t. If it is not organic than it most likely contains pesticides, also, DavidsTea uses a lot of flavorings, natural and artificial. Some types of their teas even have pieces of candy and even popcorn. That popcorn is most likely GMO.

  10. Mel

    Is ‘Zhyna’s Gypsy Teas’ misspelled in your article? I can only find a company name ‘Zhena’s’ when I google it.

  11. Amie

    Hi there,

    Just wanted to clarify that DAVIDsTEA had over 50 different organic teas (so no pesticides) and they add more to the collection every year. They also have 30 different teas with fair trade ingredients, and do quite a bit to work with farmers from all over the world to sustainably source quality tea. After learning about their passion for good tea—and for treating family farmers well—I’m happy to support the company. They also take their organic certification very seriously. When you get your organic tea scooped in store, they use special organic scoops as to not cross-contaminate! Just wanted to give credit where credit is due:)

    • Federico

      They can’t claim they love farmers and all, but the truth in Canada is that their tea surpasses the max levels of pesticides allowed, so, they are technically breaking the law and that needs to be exposed. I should not need to buy organic, thats a personal decision, regular tea that is sold, should not have that high level of toxicity, PERIOD. So, im sorry, but they are breaking the law, the fact that they offer 1000s of organic tea as well doesn’t make it right

      • Great point. Hopefully more people around the world will come to the same opinion and make such an uproar that things will start changing.

      • Chelsea

        Actually, DAVIDsTEA is not on the list for surpassing the amount of pesticides if you read the article. The source for DAVIDsTEA is a personal blog that a girl wrote saying she was disappointed for the use of artifical flavouring in some teas. DAVIDsTEA wasn’t actually in the study list. Please check your facts before coming to conclusions.

  12. I think TvM easy slim tea is a better option as it does not have any side effect and you can loose weight upto 10KG within 2 months. I, myself have lost 7KG weight in just 40 days. You can checkout its ingredients or place order at http://tvmall.in/

  13. guest

    Hello.
    I friend of mine died at the Celestial Seasonings Factory in Boulder Colorado. His skull was impaled by an I beam the company knew about but refused to fix. He was on life support for 2 years. Celestial Seasonings never paid one dollar of work man’s Compensation to him and the 2 years of hospital bills. His family was to poor after paying out of pocket to keep their son alive- to have enough left to sue Celestial Seasonings for damages and the loss of their son’s life. Their son died when they ran out of insurance. Celestial Seasonings could have 1. fixed the beam. 2. paid for treatment at the time of injury, 3. Prevented his death at every turn. But they were only concerned with money.
    Please consider this and do not buy any products from them any more. I used to like their teas and think they tasted yummy.
    But now they taste like murder. I can’t give this company any more money knowing that they caused this preventable death, refused any medical treament, and compensation to a family who lost so much.

    • Paul Harly

      Aww cmon, you just ruined a heartfelt plea with the sentence “I used to like their teas and think they tasted yummy.But now they taste like murder” I really find this incredible that you could write than and expect people to take this seriously, also how the hell did his death change the taste of the tea?

    • Dan

      References, please. Otherwise, your accusations have no credibility.

    • jay

      If true then money wouldn’t be needed for the lawyer! You are describing a multimillion dollar payout and a lawyer would get 40%-50%. And with a settlement most likely then any lawyer would jump on this without the family needing to provide money!

  14. This is a really great post, thank you so much for all of this info. There is a new study from Canada, showing lead levels in tea too, this may be something you would like to add in here! http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/12/01/many-teas-contain-enough-lead-to-be-dangerous-for-pregnant-and-nursing-women-new-canadian-study/

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  17. Neksa

    hey would anyone here know anything about the brand St. Dalfour? thanks!

  18. No real tea drinker would be caught dead with this much bagged tea in their stock. We prefer organic loose leaf tea.

    • Right on Kevin!!! Not to mention the bags they come in… bleached paper filter…doesn’t sound to healthy. Love the loose leaf in a French press…awesomeness’

    • After doing research for this article, you will see that my tea cupboard has now completely transformed! Only Organic and mostly loose now..

  19. Mark Hirsch

    Why is everyone so afraid of genetically modified food? Humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years through artificial selection, choosing to breed more useful plants and animals over less useful ones. Why does it matter if this is done scientifically by altering specific genes rather than through breeding?

    • Chris Wolowich

      you need to discern between cross breeding and the insertion of alien dna (fish, bacteria, etc.) into the plants. it absolutely does matter and google has more than enough information to answer your question. if you are so curious as to why people oppose gmo’s maybe do a little bit of research of the subject?

    • Luca

      Your confused and do not know what you are talking about inform yourself about what GMO’s actually are, what your saying is not the same as genetically modifying ….. Besides i dont think they were genetically modifying plants thousands of years ago -_- They were eating naturally grown organic foods just a few decades a go imagine a thousand years ago….

      • Renee

        Humans have been selectively breeding to alter the genetics of plants to make them easier to harvest/ingest since sedentary life and agriculture began developing. Wheat is a major example of selective breeding (genetically modification) , where the original plant had much smaller grains in fewer numbers that were easily brushed off by passing animals and usually was wasted into the ground. Agriculture and genetic modification for, yes thousands of years, has led to a larger grain, higher yield, and a stronger connection to the stalk, allowing for more to be collected by humans instead of blowing away with the wind.
        So yes, plants (much like dogs) have been genetically altered for thousands of years to produce desirable results for human use.

        • Wilson108

          Sorry Renee. You’re mistaken.

          Genetic engineering involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another. For example, genes from an arctic flounder which has “antifreeze” properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage.

          Genetic engineering is in no way precise.
          It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are not understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue.

          GMO techniques bear no resemblance to traditional breeding techniques. The government’s own Genetic Modification (Contained Use) Regulations admit this when it defines GM as “the altering of the genetic material in that organism in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or natural recombination or both”.

          Traditional breeding techniques operate within established natural boundaries which allow reproduction to take place only between closely related forms. Thus tomatoes can cross-pollinate with other tomatoes but not soya beans; cows can mate only with cows and not sheep. These genes in their natural groupings have been finely tuned to work harmoniously together by millions of years of evolution. Genetic engineering crosses genes between unrelated species which would never cross-breed in nature.

          Substantial equivalence is a legal concept invented by the biotech industry. The industry claims that a GM food or food supplement is “substantially equivalent” to, or the same as, the non-GM version and therefore does not require labels or extensive testing.

          Regulators have blindly accepted the substantial equivalence doctrine without backing up their belief with independent scientific research.

    • Wilson108

      Genetic engineering involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another. For example, genes from an arctic flounder which has “antifreeze” properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage.

      Genetic engineering is in no way precise.
      It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are not understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue.

      GMO techniques bear no resemblance to traditional breeding techniques. The government’s own Genetic Modification (Contained Use) Regulations admit this when it defines GM as “the altering of the genetic material in that organism in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or natural recombination or both”.

      Traditional breeding techniques operate within established natural boundaries which allow reproduction to take place only between closely related forms. Thus tomatoes can cross-pollinate with other tomatoes but not soya beans; cows can mate only with cows and not sheep. These genes in their natural groupings have been finely tuned to work harmoniously together by millions of years of evolution. Genetic engineering crosses genes between unrelated species which would never cross-breed in nature.

      Substantial equivalence is a legal concept invented by the biotech industry. The industry claims that a GM food or food supplement is “substantially equivalent” to, or the same as, the non-GM version and therefore does not require labels or extensive testing.

      Regulators have blindly accepted the substantial equivalence doctrine without backing up their belief with independent scientific research.

      • Great input, Wilson 108. This “What’s In Your Tea” article has sparked quite a lively discussion, I think partly because it touches on so many subjects/issues that not only have to do with tea, but the whole food supply.

    • It matters because splicing a fish ass to a soy bean is completely different than crossing two tomato varieties.

      • Very succinct (and funny, although so close to the truth it is sad, as well).

  20. Alanna, I don’t understand why you don’t clearly state up front that if any of the brands that you’re indicating are problematic also have an organic selection, those are 100% safe.

    • In the chart you say “toxic pesticides (only in conventional products)” but you don’t precisely explain what that means. And this is uber iimportant if you’re trying to inform and educate.

      • HI Maha, I did not make the chart. But this means that if the brand has organic products, then those listed as organic should be. So the conventional versions of each brand of tea contains pesticides. Some companies carry organic and conventional brand. Check the box for the certified organic stamp and then you will know.

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