FOOD: Is your tea toxic? + some non-toxic options
We drink it to wake up, we drink it to relax. We drink it with company or alone. We drink it in the morning and at night and often times during the day. We like it green and black and white. We like it fruity and fresh. We like it herbally and strong. We like it spicy and sweet. We truly love our cup of tea, unfortunately looking for a non toxic tea has become quite similar to looking for a needle in a hay stack. There’s plenty of things turning our cup of comfort into a goblet of gloom.
Studies have shown that many teas contain high levels of fluoride. Tea plants accumulate fluoride in their leaves over time, so the youngest leaves contain the least amount of fluoride. Higher quality teas use younger tea leaves. White tea has the lowest level of fluoride since it is made from the youngest leaves. Studies have shown that instant teas and economy blends appear to contain excessive levels of sodium fluoride. Green tea was found to contain the next highest level of fluoride. Black tea had the next highest level, followed by pure blends.
Now why is fluoride a bad thing? Fluoride accumulates in bones and teeth for years. Excessive fluoride ingestion can increases bone brittleness and causes bone, joint and muscle pains. Fluoride is also know to carry aluminum across the blood brain barrier. But most importantly fluoride will attack the pineal gland. The pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin which regulates our sleep/awake and seasonal cycles. Accumulation of fluoride leads to calcification of the pineal gland, diminishing its capacity to secrete melatonin. The progressive depletion of melatonin is a primary cause of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. As seen in one of our previous posts, a lack of melatonin can also lead to insomnia and all it’s uncanny consequences. So if you’re not careful, your relaxing cup of tea could keep you up all night.
A cup of Pesticides?
In 2013 the EPA allowed a 3000% (yes, 3000!!) increase in the use of pesticides on food crops. In 2012 Greenpeace did a study of nine tea companies in China. They tested 18 samples and discovered the following:
– at least 12 of the samples contained at least one pesticide banned for use on tea
– one of the pesticides present, endosulfan, has been banned globally due to its toxic properties
– all samples contained at least three pesticides
– 1 sample had 17 different kinds of pesticides
– 14 samples contained the kind of pesticides that may affect fertility, harm an unborn child or cause inheritable genetic damage
– 11 samples were found to contain pesticides that are banned for use on tea leaves by China’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Although this research only focusses on Chinese tea, other research has shown that non-Chinese tea companies don’t necessarily do better.
Nasty Natural additives
The term ‘natural‘ only means that the ingredient started out in nature, this however does not mean it can’t be harmful. For example castoreum, a natural flavor often used in vanilla and raspberry flavorings is actually an extraction of the dried glands and secretions from a beaver’s anus, delicious right? MSG, a neurotoxin, can also legally hide under the label of “natural” because although the FDA requires ingredients such as “monosodium glutamate,” and “hydrolyzed” proteins to be disclosed on the food label, there are over 40 other MSG-containing ingredients which do not require a label.
Toxic tea bags
Another issue with tea is their bags:
– those silky luxurious bags are made out of genetically modified corn
– most bags, if not made with GMO corn, are made out of polyethylene terephthalate or food grade nylon. When your tea is being boiled the molecules might leach out into the water. You could say that you don’t put the bag in boiling hot water, but the point were the molecules of both these substances start to break down is lower than boiling point of water.
– many paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, which is considered a potential carcinogen and also used as a pesticide. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It also has a spermatoxic effect in male rats and can affect immune function.
Non toxic options
There are however a few tea companies that are reliable and provide organic, pesticide free, non toxic tea.
– Choice Organic Teas
If you come across a tea brand not mentioned above, that offers all organic tea without any added flavoring I suggest you contact the company (using Facebook, Twitter,…) to ask them about the bags they use to find out for yourself whether it’s safe or not. You can also buy organic, non-toxic, pesticide free loose leaf tea and use a strainer.
*Unfortunately, my beloved Extra Sleepy Time Tea from Celestial Seasonings, which I mentioned (and shame on me even recommended) in a previous post doesn’t fit the list. Although it doesn’t contain any natural flavors or other odd ingredients, tests have shown that dangerously high levels of pesticides have been found in Celestial Seasonings teas. The Extra Sleepy Time wasn’t tested in this study, however 11 of their teas were tested and only one came out clear, namely the Rooibos Safari Spice.
Keep calm and have a cup of tea!