Even though tea is widely considered to be a healthier alternative to coffee, many conventional tea brands have been found to contain high levels of toxic substances such as fluoride and different pesticides. The levels found in these products are so high that the teas are considered unsafe for consumption. Just like with other products, all tea is not created equal, so opting to save a few bucks on cheaper tea can cost you much more when it comes to your health. Read on.
Conventional tea brands could contain fluoride and pesticides
Because tea is rarely washed before packaging, the dangerous pesticides previously sprayed on the crop often end up in your cup. This is especially true seeing as evidence confirms that many non-organic tea brands contain dangerous pesticides that are known carcinogens. Most of the popular tea brands list natural flavors as an ingredient, which has led to the misconception by consumers that they are purchasing better, cleaner ingredients. However, there is an entire list of what “natural flavors” might mean.
Research published in Food Research International shows a significant percentage of the United Kingdom’s population exceed the recommended intake for fluoride. Too much intake of fluoride often bears detrimental health effects. The overexposure to fluoride has been determined to be specifically due to the consumption of tea. Apart from causing kidney problems, this overexposure can also lead to issues with the teeth and bones.
How Does Fluoride End Up In Teas?
Tea plants absorb fluoride from the soil, but they also accumulate it as they grow. This means that older leaves contain the most fluoride. Since cheaper quality teas are often made from older tea leaves, they contain more fluoride. They also contain the least amount of anti-oxidants, which lessens the heath benefits associated with drinking tea.
Tea brands that contain harmful chemicals in high levels
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) investigated a few of the most popular international beverage companies including:
• King Cole
• Uncle Lee’s Legends of China
Alarmingly, the CBC found that the level of toxins contained in at least half of the tea brands exceeded the legal limit. The worst offenders among the investigated brands include:
- King Cole – Found to contain monocrotophos, a chemical that is in the process of being banned because it causes irregular heartbeat and even coma.
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China: This brand was found to contain at least 20 different types of pesticides. Endosulfan, known to damage the nervous system, was among the 20 pesticides.
- No Name – Found to contain more than 10 types of pesticides.
However, this doesn’t mean that the other tea brands were completely safe. In fact, the only tea that was found to contain no pesticides at all was Red Rose.
Avoiding the toxic chemicals found in tea
Ensuring you are safe from the harmful chemicals or pesticides found in teas does not necessary means quitting your tea-drinking habit. After all, tea is also a source of some incredible health benefits. You can, however, try the following as a solution.
- Try switching to white tea. Since it’s made from young leaves, white tea has the least amount of fluoride.
- Ensure you either brew your tea from scratch or you buy loose leaf tea.
- Go Organic! Always choose a non-GMO certified brand of tea.
- Check the list of ingredients, making sure no GMO ingredients or added flavors are included.
- 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.
- Know the correct brewing times for different types of tea. For example, black tea should be steeped for 3-5 minutes; green or white teas should be steeped for 2-3 minutes; Oolong teas should be steeped for 4-7 minutes; and herbal teas should be steeped for 5 minutes at minimum, or longer for a stronger tea.