The truth behind the teas your are drinking

The truth behind the teas your are drinking

  • There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea to get you through a long stressful day or to decompress.
  • It has a way of providing energy, soothing the soul, and refreshing your spirits.
  • Tea has been used for millenniums starting in China as a potent tonic with a huge range of health benefits.
  • A wonderful beverage like this couldn’t have any harmful substances in it, right? Wrong.
  • An investigation by Vani Hari, Founder of Food Babe uncovered some shocking facts about popular tea brands.
  • These are the teas that showed potentially harmful substances:
  • Celestial Seasonings
  • Tazo
  • Lipton
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Teavana
  • Bigelow
  • Tea Forte
  • Twinings of London
  • Though teas may be marketed as crucial beverages for your health, many of them contain harmful pesticides, artificial flavors, toxins, GMOs, and more.
  • Why would pesticides be in your tea? The answer is because many popular teas are not washed before they are packaged. This means that if your tea was sprayed with pesticides during growth, they can only end up in one place – your cup.
  • The findings:
  • Celestial Seasonings:
  • Recent research by Glaucus Research on the brand Celestial Seasonings found that over 90% of their teas tested showed pesticide levels that were over United States limits.
  • Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal: It showed 0.26 ppm of propachlor, which under California Proposition 65 is considered a carcinogen.
  • The “Wellness” tea products from Celestial Seasonings also contained propargite, which is also a known carcinogen.
  • The FDA sent two letters to Celestial Seasonings, warning them about bad quality control.
  • Teavana:
  • Have you been to Teavana? Everything about this chain store seems classy, high end, and healthy. They wow customers with great presentation to make up for their high prices. Though this place may seem like tea heaven, their products were shown to be filled with pesticides in the Glaucus Research study.
  • Facts: A shocking 100% of the Teavana teas that were tested were found to contain pesticides.
  • Their product called “Monkey-picked oolong” contained 23 pesticides.
  • Note: 77% percent of these teas would be banned from import in the European Union.
  • Facts: 62% of teas tested contained endosulfan, a pesticide banned in the U.S. and 144 other countries because it is linked to impaired fertility and may harm unborn babies.
  • We have all seen teas advertised as having “natural flavors” to make consumers believe that they are drinking better quality ingredients. The truth is that the so called “natural flavors” label is just a way to disguise poor quality and sub-par taste.
  • The positive news is that there are companies who are against the use of natural flavors, and only use real ingredients in their teas. The Food Babe recently interviewed Ahmed Rahim, the CEO of Numi Tea who expressed his disgust on the natural flavor hoax: You can breakdown anything that is found in nature and if it ends up tasting like the flavor you wish to use – you can add it to any product and call it NATURAL FLAVOR on the ingredient label. It could come from a stone in the ground and you’d never know.”  
  • 3. GMOs IN TEA:
  • The subject of GMOs doesn’t come up very often when talking about tea, but conversations may start to change. Some teas contain known GMOs like modified corn starch and soy lecithin. Make sure to read labels before making your tea purchase.
  • It is now well known that plastic containers and bottles can leach harmful chemicals like BPA and BPS into food and liquids. Unfortunately, the same applies to plastic tea bags. Dr. Mercola explains, “While these plastics are generally considered among the safest in terms of leaching potential, the molecules in these plastic tea bags may still in fact break down and leach out when steeped in boiling water—which is the recommended way to brew a good cup of tea, especially when you’re using higher quality whole tea leaves, which these newer tea bags are designed for.”
  • Paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, which turns into 3-MCPD (a known carcinogen) when it makes contact with water. Dow Chemical Co, one of the largest producers of epichlorohydrin wrote that it is a very dangerous chemical, and requires extra precautions when it is being handled. “Granted, that doesn’t automatically render it dangerous in the final product, but it can still be a cause for concern, particularly as it can turn into a carcinogen when water is added,” shares Dr. Mercola.
  • His advice is to purchase your tea from manufacturers who can certify that their tea bags do not contain this compound.
  • Select an organic, non-GMO certified brand of tea.
  • We recommend Numi Tea, which is organic, GMO-free, and simply delicious. It is a reputable source you can trust. Their tea is sold at Whole Foods and many supermarkets and online.
  • Read the labels to make sure there no “natural flavors” or “added flavors.”
  • Make sure that there are no GMO ingredients added like modified corn starch and soy lecithin.
  • Recommendation:
  • Next time you go out, take your own tea bag as most restaurants serve teas with pesticides such as Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, Bigelow, and more.
  • 1. Boil water in a tea kettle (avoid non-stick pots, as they can leach harmful chemicals)
  • 2.  Preheat your tea pot. Add a small amount of boiling water to the container that you are going to use.
  • Ceramic and porcelain help retain heat.
  • Cover the pot or cup with a lid.
  • Let it stand until cup becomes hot, then pour out the water.
  • 3. Add the tea using an infuser, strainer, or add loose leaves into the pot.
  • Without an infuser or strainer, your tea will be more flavorful.
  • You can change the flavor of tea to your liking by adding more or less leaves.
  • 4.  Add boiling water to pot or cup, depending on the amount of tea you are using. (For 2 teaspoons of tea, add two cups of water, etc.)
  • 5. The ideal water temperature depends on the type of tea that you are steeping.
  • Temperature guide:
  • a. White or green teas: Well below boiling (170-185 F or 76-85 C). Once the water is boiling, let the water cool for 30 seconds for white tea and 60 seconds for green tea.
  • b. Oolong teas: 185-210 F or 85-98 C.
  • c.  Black teas and Pu-erh teas: Full rolling boil (212 F or 100 C)
  • Here are some general guidelines for steeping times:
  • a.  Oolong teas: 4-7 minutes
  • b. Black teas: 3-5 minutes
  • c. Green teas: 2-3 minutes
  • For the unique benefits of popular teas.
  • For the health benefits of green tea.
  • For the health benefits of Pu-erh tea.
  • 1. Hari, Vani. “Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?” Food Babe, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2013.
  • 2. “Glaucus Research – Consumer Watchdog Glaucus Research, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Aug. 2013.
  • 3. Mercola, Joseph, D.O. “Plastic and Cancerous Compounds in Tea Bags—A Surprising Source of Potential Toxins.”, 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Aug. 2013.


  1. Numi tea is THE best tea and it does not have any pesticides and has been tested as well.

  2. Hi..I was watching a program on TV about pesticides in tea. I have a whole cupboard full of different tea’s. I will have to throw them all out now. Do you think when buying tea from the tea places that the staff would know if their tea’s have pesticides in them.

    • Hi Lee,
      It is better to be safe and read the labels. Make sure the the is certified organic. The staff should but again, use caution and buy tea from reputable sources as mentioned in our article. We love Numi tea and recommend them.

  3. i am using Stash (organic) Chai black and green tea..Mmmm yummy
    says USDA this a good brand?

    • Hi Deanne,
      Please follow our steps and make sure to select not only an an organic brands but one that is also non-GMO certified. We love Numi tea and recommend them, they are as pure as can be. Hope this helps!

  4. Thanks. Great article! I like Paromi tea too. Have you heard of that? It’s made in Bethesda, MD and uses non-GMO cornstarch sachets as well as single origin teas.

  5. Monica Medrek says:

    Thanks for sharing this post! I just had a client ask me about which teas I recommend and I thought to myself that I need to research them because other than Traditional Medicinals and a local Bethesda company, Paromi which I think is also good I was unsure what I could recommend favorably. Have you heard of Paromi? It blends single origin teas, and identifies the source of each of the base teas used in their various blends. The teas are packaged in 100% non-GMO corn starch sachets that are fully biodegradable. The only thing I’m unsure about with Paromi is ingredients like “natural vanilla essence” and “natural cucumber and melon flavor.” I’ll have to write the company to find out more about those. Again, thanks!

    • Hi Monica,
      They are a good brand as they are Fair trade and most of their teas carry the USDA organic seal. We are not sure about their bags are bio degradable and do not leech. Their glass jars do not seem BPA-free.
      We highly recommend you only buy the ones with the USDA organic seal.
      Again, we love Numi tea and believe they lead with the purity of their ingredients….

  6. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  7. I would be interested in what they would find in Davids Tea.

    Personally I prefer for my loose leaf organic teas, especially their Apple & Pear Tulsi…. Soooo Yummmm.

    Thanks for the extended article from Food Babes blog.

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