A recent study in Food Research International showed alarming levels of pesticides and synthetic flourides in popular bagged teas.
How Does This Happen?
Washing teas before they're dried isn't a common practice. This leads to pesticide residues on non-organic tea- even some that are marketed as organic and pesticide free. Tea plants accumulate synthetic flouride (a toxic byproduct) as they grow, so older leaves have higher concentrations. Many of the less expensive teas are made from older leaves with higher accumulations. Levels are even higher in decaffeinated teas.
What Does This Mean?
Some of the pesticides found in these bagged teas are known carcinogens, and present in quantities higher than the US and EU limits. Some brands have 7 ppm of synthetic flouride, almost 2x the allowed level of 4 ppm. The flouride can lead to bone, tooth, kidney, and other problems.
Is My Tea OK?
Many of the most popular brands were noted in the study, including Tazo, Lipton, Allegro, Celestial Seasonings, Twinings, Teavana, Bigelow Tea, Mighty Leaf, Trader Joe's, Tetley, Yogi, and Tea Forte.
Do I Have to Give up Tea?
Absolutely not. There are health benefits of many teas out there, but it may be time to switch brands or methods. Brew your own loose leaf teas, and try to focus on organic and white teas. Many of the bagged teas are made from low quality leaves which contain more flouride.