Pesticides are everywhere. They are sprayed in school playgrounds and public parks, and can even be found on the produce we buy from the grocery store.
We do everything we can do avoid contact with these pesticides, from washing our produce before we eat them, to buying organic or homegrown fruits and veggies. Yet somehow it always manages to find a way into our home.
One of the more recent examples of this includes the discovery of incredibly high levels of pesticides in some of the world’s most popular tea brands including Lipton, Tetley, and Twinings.
Pesticides in Tea
CBC News conducted an investigation on the pesticide levels of most major tea-producing companies. These companies included:
- Lipton (Pure Green Tea and Yellow Label Black Tea)
- Red Rose
- No Name
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China (Green Tea and Jasmine Green Tea)
- King Cole
Using an accredited lab, CBC investigators used the same testing method employed by the national Food Inspection Agency to test the pesticide residue on the dry tea leaves.
The investigators found that more than half of all the teas tested had pesticide residues that were above the legally acceptable limit. Eight out of the 10 teas tested also contained multiple chemicals, with one brand of tea containing over 22 different types of pesticides.
Some of the pesticides that were discovered in the tea, including endosulfan and monocrotophos, are currently in the process of being banned in several countries. This is because of the health risks it poses to workers that handle it and the negative impact that it has on the environment.
Research has now shown that pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health concerns, from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption.
At Affect Health we encourage customers to choose organic and/or wildcrafted loose leaf tea to help limit pesticide and toxin exposure. Long-term exposure to multiple sources of harmful chemicals, environmental pollutants, alcohol, medication, and processed foods all take a toll on our liver and detoxification systems.
If you’re curious if you need to detox, you can take the following quiz t find out:
Worst Tea Brands
Although a majority of the tea brands tested contained traces of pesticides (only one brand didn’t, we’ll get to that in a bit), some brands contained a whopping amount of pesticides while others stayed below the legal limits. Although zero pesticides are the preferred amount, here is a list of the worst offenders so you will be sure to steer clear of these brands no matter how desperate for tea you are.
Uncle Lee’s Legends of China (Green Tea)
This brand of tea contains over 20 different types of pesticides, including endosulfan, which is currently in the process of being banned from many different countries due to its health and environmental effects. Side effects of endosulfan consumption include tremors and other effects on the nervous system, and in some cases, eating foods containing endosulfan has resulted in death.
Although it comes nowhere close to Uncle Lee’s Green Tea, it still contains over 10 different types of pesticides.
This tea is not as heavily laden with pesticides as the No Name brand above it, but it does have a wider variety of pesticides, including the soon-to-be-banned monocrotophos, which is known to cause involuntary defecation, irregular heartbeat and induce comas.
The tea industry has not stayed quiet during this kerfuffle. James O’ Young, vice president of Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, which also happens to be the brand which contained the most pesticides, defended his tea’s pesticide content by claiming all tea contains pesticides.
“If you drink tea, regular tea, I don’t care what brand it is, the fact of life, this agricultural product does have pesticides,” O’Young said.
O’Young made this statement ignoring the fact that CBC’s investigation found that, out of the 10 different tea brands tested, Red Rose was the only product that came back completely free of pesticides. This proves that not only is it possible to cultivate tea without having pesticide residue on it but that representatives from big corporations are blatantly lying to us about it.
Support pesticide-free tea companies by avoiding brands that you know are heavy in pesticides, such as Uncle Lee’s and No Name Brands, and purchase only from brands that you know contain little to no pesticides.
For a full list of the different tea brands tested during CBC’s investigation, click here.
How To Select The Best Tea Blend
Not all teas are created equal, especially when it comes to quality. Here are some tips on picking medicinal blends:
- Look for organic ingredients to help eliminate pesticide exposure
- Select brands that use loose-leaf or loose-packed whole leaf tea; they are made with higher quality ingredients that have their medicinal properties preserved. Loosely-packed tea also gives the tea “room to brew,” so even more of its healing qualities can be extracted.
- Look for the experts behind the blends. If it’s a naturopathic doctor, herbalist, or tea specialist then you know they’ve done their research and have chosen the ingredients for a specific purpose! For example, Wild Leaf Active Tea has a dedicated team of herbalists and tea connoisseurs who formulate their products.
- Avoid tea bags that are transparent or have windows, as this allows oxidation to occur and reduces shelf life. Tea should also be stored in light-free and air-sealed containers to maintain freshness and potency.
My recommendation? As the founder of Affect Health loose-leaf, organic medicinal tea — I’m obviously biased to my own blends that have all been formulated by naturopathic doctors (including myself) and made with 100% USDA certified organic ingredients. You can find the whole line HERE.
 Pesticides 101. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.panna.org/pesticides-big-picture/pesticides-101
 Monocrotophos. (1997, June). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/w5715e/w5715e04.htm
 Griffith-Greene, M. (2014, March 08). Pesticide traces in some tea exceed allowable limits. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/pesticide-traces-in-some-tea-exceed-allowable-limits-1.2564624
 Full tea test results. (2017, March 7). Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/blog/full-tea-test-results
 Health effects of endosulfan. (2008, March 31). Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/153376/