Although tea is widely thought to be a healthier source of caffeine than coffee, pop or energy drinks, conventional tea brands have been shown to contain high levels of toxic substances such as fluoride and pesticides. The levels found in these products are so high that they are considered unsafe for consumption. As with most products, all tea is not created equal. Opting to save a few dollars on cheaper tea can cost you a lot more when it comes to your health.
Conventional Teas May Contain Fluoride and Pesticides
Most tea isn’t washed before it is distributed into bags. If the tea was sprayed with pesticides, those pesticides will wind up directly in your cup. Many non-organic tea brands have been found to contain pesticides that are known carcinogens. Popular tea brands often get away with listing “natural flavors” as an ingredient, causing many consumers to think they are buying better, cleaner ingredients. But there is a whole list of what “natural flavors” could mean.
A study published in Food Research International found that a significant percentage of the United Kingdom population greatly exceeded the recommended dietary intake for fluoride, which can lead to detrimental health effects. It was determined that the overexposure was occurring specifically from the consumption of tea. Overexposure to fluoride can cause problems with the bones and teeth, as well as kidney problems.
Where Does The Fluoride Come From?
Tea plants absorb fluoride from soil and accumulate it as they grow, so older leaves contain the most fluoride. Cheaper quality teas are often made from older tea leaves, which contain more fluoride. These teas also contain the least amount of anti-oxidants, lessening the health benefits associated with drinking tea.
Which Brands Contain The Most Toxins?
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation actually conducted an investigation on several popular international tea companies, including:
- No Name
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China
- King Cole
Alarmingly, the CBC found that half of the tea brands contained a level of toxins that exceeded the legal limit. The worst offenders were:
- King Cole, which contained the monocrotophos – a chemical that is currently in the process of being banned, as it causes irregular heartbeat and even coma.
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, which contained more than 20 types of pesticides. One was endosulfan, which causes nervous system damage.
- No Name, which contained more than 10 pesticide types.
That doesn’t mean the other tea brands were totally safe, however. In fact, only Red Rose tea was found to contain no pesticides at all.
How To Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Tea
You don’t need to stop drinking tea altogether to keep yourself safe from harmful toxins or pesticides that may be lurking in your cup. After all, tea is the source of some amazing health benefits. So what’s the solution?
- Try switching to white tea. It has the least amount of fluoride because it’s made from young leaves.
- Be sure to buy loose leaf tea or brew your own tea from scratch.
- Buy organic! Choose a non-GMO certified brand of tea.
- Check the ingredient list to make sure there are no added flavors or GMO ingredients added to the tea leaves.
- Many restaurants use tea brands that are known to be full of pesticides, so be careful about ordering tea while out to eat.
- Know the correct brewing times for certain types of tea. Black or Pu-reh teas should be steeped for 3-5 minutes; white or green teas should be steeped for 2-3 minutes; Oolong teas should be steeped for 4-7 minutes; and herbal teas should be left to steep for five minutes at minimum, longer for a stronger tea.
Here is a list of bagged tea that is safe!
- Red Rose
- Numi Tea
- Rishi Tea
- EDEN Organic
- Organic Stash
- Choice Organic Teas
- Two Leaves
- Organic Tazo
- Organic Traditional Medicinals
Watch the video below for a breakdown of different tea brands and how they measure up in terms of health: