Compared to energy drinks, coffee, and pop, most people consider tea as a healthier source of caffeine. However, many of the conventional tea brands have been found to contain significantly high levels of harmful chemicals including dangerous pesticides and fluoride. As such, most are considered unsafe for human consumption.
Same as almost every other product, not every brand of tea is created equal. Choosing to save some money on cheaper teas might cost you a lot more in terms of your health.
Conventional tea brands could 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.
Greenpeace released a study exposing that numerous popular tea brands contain high levels of pesticide residues, while some also tested positive for DDT pesticide, which was banned decades ago.
One study published in Food Research International discovered that much of the UK population was significantly exceeding the recommended daily intake of fluoride, and this overexposure could largely be linked to their tea consumption. Overexposure to fluoride can cause problems with the bones and teeth, as well as kidney problems.
Where does the fluoride come from?
As tea plants grow, they accumulate the fluoride absorbed from the soil, which means older leaves contain comparatively higher amounts of fluoride. Tea brands of a relatively cheaper quality are often from old tea leaves, which usually contain more fluoride. Such teas also contain the most minimal amounts of anti-oxidants, significantly limiting the health benefits linked to drinking tea.
Which brands contain the most toxins?
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation actually conducted an investigation on several popular international tea companies, including:
4. No Name
5. Uncle Lee’s Legends of China
6. 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: This particular tea brand contains monocrotophos. Because this chemical causes irregular heartbeats and is also known to cause coma, it is presently in the process of being banned.
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.
You should, however, note that listing the two brands as the worst offenders is not to mean the other brands are totally safe. As a matter of fact, Red Rose tea was the only brand found to contain zero pesticides.
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?
1. Switch to white tea seeing as it contains least amount of fluoride compared to other teas because it is made from young leaves.
2. Ensure you either brew your tea from scratch or you buy loose leaf tea.
3. Always opt for organic tea by choosing a non-GMO certified brand.
4. Check the list of ingredients, making sure no GMO ingredients or added flavors are included.
5. Be extremely careful and particular when ordering tea while eating at a restaurant since most of these establishments use tea brands known to contain high levels of pesticides.
6. Know exactly how long it should take to brew a particular brand of tea. For instance, the recommendation is that you steep black tea for 3-5 minutes, white or green tea for 2-3 minutes, and oolong tea for 4-7 minutes. You should let herbal teas steep for a minimum of five minutes. Remember, a stronger tea takes more time.
Safe bagged tea
Listed below are some of the bagged teas considered safe for consumption.
- EDEN Organic
- Numi Tea
- Two Leaves
- Choice Organic Teas
- Rishi Tea
- Organic Stash
- Red Rose
- Organic Traditional Medicinals
- Organic Tazo
As much as drinking tea offers significant health benefits, it can also lead to several health concerns. As such, being careful and particular about the type and brand of tea you ingest is of great importance. As evidenced above, the cheaper the tea, the more harmful it is bound to be, which makes opting for a high-quality brand the better option.