Ahh, tea. It warms the body, can soothe an achy throat, and in general just makes us feel good, right? Are you a daily tea drinker like I am? Tea can also give us energy, help us detox and support our digestion. However, as with anything we put in our body, it’s important to know what’s in the tea we’re drinking every day. Many of the popular tea brands out there claim to provide health benefits, however what they don’t advertise is that they can be full of pesticides, toxins, artificial ingredients and even GMOs! What’s up with that? With that in mind, let’s break down what’s really in your tea.
What Type of Tea to Drink
To start, it's important to make sure to drink organic tea. Most tea is not washed before it's bagged in tea bags so if it's not organic it most likely has pesticides. The first time that tea is being washed is in your warm mug of water and that tasty cup of tea has quickly become a mug of pesticides and tea. Yum!
Artificial Flavor vs. Natural Flavored Tea
As if pesticides were not bad enough, a lot of teas also includes artificial and natural flavors. Artificial flavors can be sourced from chemicals such as crude oil and coal tar! Do you really want to be drinking that every morning? Natural flavors are not far behind. It is really just a trick word to make you think you are consuming something natural, when in fact its far from. Natural flavors are a companies way of hiding ingredients that have been sourced from nature and are chemically processed in a lab to create a flavor. These flavors can be created from anything in nature, which can include hair, feathers, bugs and brace yourself, even animal anal glands. Yes, that is correct, Castoreum is sourced from beaver anal glands and is used in the manufacturing of vanilla, strawberry and raspberry flavors, which then appear in ice cream, soda and yogurt. It's one of many delicious natural flavors in our food supply. Vanilla ice cream anyone?
So what distinguishes an artificial flavor from a “natural” flavor? Not much, according to David Andrews, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “The largest difference is that natural flavors are coming from natural sources — the original ingredient is found in nature and then purified and extracted and added back into the food. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the “natural flavors” in your blueberry granola bar are simply…crushed-up blueberries. Rather, they probably consist of a chemical originally found in blueberries, enhanced, processed and added into your food in a lab.” Here is a great article with more info on natural and artificial flavors.
GMO’s in Tea
Then we have GMO’s. A lot of tea brands will include additives that are sourced from GMO corn and soy. Does all of this really need to be in a simple tea? Why can’t it just be tea?
And if that is still not enough, we also have to worry about the type of tea bag used! Some are made with plastics or GMO corn. We all know how bad plastics are, especially when heated, so you can just imagine what happens when you put a plastic bag into boiling water everyday and drink it. A lot of bags don’t seem like they are plastic because they have been so processed, but they are, especially the silky smooth bags.
Types of Tea Bags
So you should use paper tea bags only right? Well not so fast. According to Dr. Mercola, many “paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins. Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is 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 has also been implicated in infertility and suppressed immune function.”
Well now you are probably thinking “what can I drink!??” I hear you! Here’s some steps to take to safely choose tea.
How to Choose Which Tea to Drink
Choose Organic, non GMO Tea. Some of the cleaner brands are Organic Stash, Numi and Traditional Medicinals.
Make sure there are no added ingredients that could be sourced from GMO’s such as corn starch or soy lecithin or any artificial/natural flavors.
Use tea that is in a safe bag or buy loose leaf and brew it in stainless steel or glass. Numi and Traditional Medicinal have publicly stated they do not use harmful bag materials. Here is some more info on various tea brands and their bag information.
You can also reference this helpful chart from FoodBabe and see if your daily tea is on it and how it stacks up.
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