Beware of Tainted Tea Leaves

Did You Know…that this popular wellness-enhancing beverage is tainted with toxins?

Modern tea brands claim their products offer incredible benefits while complementing a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, although companies are quick to cite the long, well-documented history of the curative powers of tea, they neglect to mention that their products are laden with pesticides … toxins … “natural” flavors … artificial ingredients … and GMOs.  The tea we drink now shares few characteristics with its noble ancestors.

Tea’s Noble History 

For nearly 5,000 years, medical traditions across the globe have depended on tea to treat a host of ailments.  In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) alone, records reveal over 200 different applications for tealeaves.  Ancient methods for preparing tea sound similar to those we use today: leaves from the tea plant (Camellia sinesis) were either ground into a powder or placed directly into water to infuse it with their essence.  Today, the picture looks very different.

A Nice, Hot Cup of Pesticides 

The problem begins with the tea leaves themselves.  Most tea is not washed before it’s bagged, meaning that if the tea was sprayed with pesticides, those chemicals go straight into your cup.  According to a third-party analysis by Glaucus Research, testing found pesticide residue that exceeded legal limits on 91% of the tea sold by Celestial Seasonings, one of the most popular brands in the United States.  One variety—Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal—carried a particularly dangerous compound called propachlor, which is listed as a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65.

High-end, loose-leaf tea is no cleaner than the brands found on grocery store shelves.  An independent lab tested tea from Teavana, a boutique tea retailer, and found that 100% was laced with pesticides.

Perhaps even more concerning was the finding that 77% of the Teavana teas failed to meet European Union pesticide import standards, and would be banned from import.  Why?  Because 62% of the teas bore traces of endosulfan, an extremely dangerous pesticide

  • Linked to impaired fertility
  • Harmful to unborn children
  • Banned by China, the E.U., the U. S., and 144 other countries

Just Say No to GMO Tea 

Along with the pesticides, tea drinkers may also be unknowingly ingesting GMO ingredients and potential allergens.  Modified cornstarch, soy lecithin and other additives made from genetically engineered corn and soy frequently appear in tea.  “I can’t imagine having a serious soy allergy, considering all the places companies try to hide it,” commented Vani Hari, advocate for food supply transparency and founder of

Reap the Time-Tested Benefits, Without the Contaminants 

Hari started her website as a means of informing people about “what is really in the American food supply.”  She aims to arm individuals with the facts necessary for making healthy, sustainable food decisions.  According to Hari and other experts, the benefits of drinking tea have stood the test of time.  But 21st century consumers should carefully consider which brand to imbibe.

Here are Hari’s top four tips for picking the teas chock full of all the good stuff, and none of the bad…

  1. Start by finding organic, non-GMO certified brands of tea
  2. Read the ingredient list to catch out culprits like added flavors, which often come from GMO crops.
  3. Either choose a brand that uses verifiably safe packaging, or stick to loose leaf teas and invest in a stainless steel or glass strainer.
  4. Odds are good that the tea served at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop is pesticide-ridden.  Your best option may be to bring your own tea and to ask for a pot or cup of boiling water.  If you do so, don’t forget to leave a generous tip!