Throughout my year living in England, I have adapted many British sayings, mannerisms and habits, but one thing that makes me stand out like a sore thumb is my lack of love for tea (black, highly caffeinated builders tea). It’s offered in any social setting and its not uncommon for Brits to drink 5-10 cups a day.
In America on the other hand, coffee is more popular. Tea is promoted as a health food, and everyone has a unique preference. Whether its green, rooibos, white or chai, one google search will lead you to 15,000 studies showing the health benefits of that particular tea. So we replace our morning coffee with a green tea, and pat ourselves on the back, thinking that with each sip we are building up cancer-protective walls in our body.
Is your tea safe?
If you are from any culture that consumes tea liberally or considers it a health food, you may be surprised to find out that your morning tea is likely toxic. In fact, If it’s not certified organic, you can be sure of it. Did you know that tea is one of the most heavily sprayed crops?
In a 2014 report done by Greenpeace on tea grown in India, they found that out of the 46 samples taken from major tea brands, 94% contained residue from at least 1 pesticide, 59% of the samples contained at least 10 different pesticides! In case you didn’t know, India is the worlds second largest producer of tea, and one of the biggest exporters! China is number 1 and has similarly high rates of pesticide use as there is little environmental regulation.
The damage that pesticides cause
Pesticides are shown to build up in our body and cause hormonal, neurological, and developmental problems, heavy metal toxicity, and cancer. Even if you trust the FDA with food regulation and don’t think that pesticides are harmful, you should throw your non-organic tea, because it likely contains pesticides that the FDA state are cancer causing! Two of the toxins found were:
Monocrotophos- Found in 55% of tea samples. A suspected mutagen neurotoxin and skin irritant, was found in 27 of the samples! Monocrotophos are classified as Highly Hazardous by the World Health Organization and are not approved in India
DDT- Found in 67% of samples. This pesticide has been called “The most powerful pesticide the world has ever known”. It was created in 1939 and used during WWII to control insects. In 1955 it was used to eradicate malaria through mosquito control AS INSTRUCTED BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION.
It was used in Africa, Asia and the south pacific. It worked for a short time until the mosquitos built up an immunity and DDT was found to be carcinogenic and mutagenetic. Oops. It was later banned for agricultural use.
What makes tea, particularly problematic?
Well, other than the fact that they contain illegal carcinogenic pesticides, they also contain much higher quantities than your fruit or vegetables.
Think of a potato. Its not organic and has been sprayed with a pesticide. Thats bad. Although non organic potatoes do contain pesticides in the inside, you would agree that most heavily contaminated part of the potato is the skin.
Let’s compare that to leafy greens like spinach, kale or lettuce. The entire plant is surface area, and there is no protective barrier meaning its fully exposed to chemicals. Eating conventionally grown leafy greens is like peeling the skin off a non-organic potato and only eating that part in large quantities. Not recommended.
This is essentially what tea is. Large amounts of leafy greens with no protection. Don’t be fooled, thinking that there is only a small amount of leaves in your tea. Remember, they have been dehydrated meaning that they have shrunk considerably!
Buying Chemical-Free tea:
Always make sure that your tea is 100% organic, and that there are no “natural flavors”. Just because you buy it at a health food store, or quality tea shop like teavanna, does not mean its organic. There is no regulation on the word “natural”. Even MSG, fake sweeteners, and other toxins can be called “natural” on the packaging.
I’m not a tea connoisseur but my go-to brands are Yogi & Numi. They are usually 100% organic and can be found at most health food stores in the US. What are your favorite organic tea brands?
Also Posted at Real Food Forager