The Toxic Truth About Tea

Fewer things are more wholesome and peaceful than sipping warm tea out of a delicate teacup or your favorite mug while looking out a window to take in the scenery. If you are anything like me, the act of drinking tea in and of itself can stir up feelings of coziness and comfort and begin to ease anxiety and stress.

And tea is not only good for mental health; it has also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, lower cholesterol, and improve mental focus. But before you go grabbing that cardboard box in your cupboard, it is important to know that not all tea is created equal. 

The Hidden Dangers Lurking In Some Teas

Some conventional teas contain toxins, including one called epichlorohydrin, which is a plastic that helps to keep teabags from breaking. In a peer-reviewed study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, researchers discovered that steeping plastic tea bags in nearly boiling watershed more than 10 billion microplastic and nano plastic particles into the water, a level. Other toxins commonly found in tea include arsenic, lead, cadmium, endosulfan, fluoride, PET plastic, tannins, and other known carcinogens. Certain toxins may also appear in plastic or paper tea bags, such as cornstarch, polylactic acid (PLA), and polypropylene.

Passing on organic tea in favor of conventional may also expose you to pesticides, carcinogens, artificial flavoring, heavy metals, mold, harmful toxins, and even GMOs from your tea or teabag. The good news is that it is possible to avoid drinking tea with toxins simply by knowing what to look out for and which brands are safe to buy. 

Tips for Finding Non-Toxic Tea

Look for non-GMO and USDA-certified organic teas. They usually contain fewer toxins and have more antioxidants than their conventional counterparts. Avoid teas with “added flavors,” including “natural flavors” or “artificial flavoring,” as the FDA allows tea companies to be vague about what these natural flavors are comprised of. And if you decide to stick with bagged tea, make sure to look for plastic-free, chlorine-free, and epichlorohydrin-free options. 

Many teas are naturally caffeinated, so if you opt for the decaf version, be aware that it must first be decaffeinated—and there are different processes for achieving this. To be on the safe side, I would suggest avoiding methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. These decaffeinating solvents may pose health risks that you can avoid by opting for teas that have been decaffeinated using the carbon dioxide decaffeination process instead. To find out about a brand’s decaffeinating process, look on its website.

The Healthiest Tea

There are many different kinds of tea. Green, white, black, and oolong tea are made from the same plant: the Camellia Sinensis plant. And then, there are herbal teas like peppermint, hibiscus, rooibos, ginger, and chamomile. Certain herbal teas, such as nettle tea, can offer a considerable amount of minerals, but green tea and matcha take the teacake for the greatest health benefits. 

Green tea is considered one of the healthiest ones, as it has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes. It is also shown to support your metabolism, bones, heart and reduce cognitive decline. 

Perhaps the only tea healthier than green tea is matcha tea, which is also made from the green tea leaf—the difference is how they are harvested and processed. Matcha tea is richer in chlorophyll and amino acid, and the result is a cup of matcha tea containing about three times the antioxidants of green tea.   

The Best Way to Drink Your Tea

Green tea is healthiest when drunk plain, with no added sugar or milk (plant-based or otherwise). I find that one gets used to the earthy flavor and comes to enjoy and even crave it.

Brewing loose tea is more environmentally sustainable than using tea bags and tea sachets, and it also allows you to avoid ingesting endocrine-disrupting plastic compounds. Even using paper tea bags is not a fool-proof method to avoid ingesting epichlorohydrin, as they may be coated in the carcinogen. If you do not like the idea of parting with tea bags, look for ones made with unbleached paper that are epichlorohydrin-free.

My Favorite Tea Brands

  • Numi Tea
  • Organic India Tea
  • Tazo Tea
  • Pique Tea
  • Traditional Medicinals Tea
  • Yogi Tea
  • Eden Foods

If you do not drink tea every day, I suggest making it into a ritual. Whether you replace your morning cup of coffee with a matcha tea or have a soothing lavender herbal tea before bed, there is nothing quite like heating a kettle on the stove and enjoying the calming and warming effects of your drink, knowing that you are doing something good for your body and mind.

If you are interested in more tips like this, I would love to work with you one-on-one! You can learn more about booking a session with me here.