Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toxic Teas

I love me some tea. I've been in love with tea and the many opportunities for ceremony and ritual surrounding it ever since my mother asked me if I wanted to have a peppermint tea party with her when I was a little girl. Heck yeah I wanted to have a tea party! She brewed us a couples of cups of tea and we sat in my room enjoying it. Tea is simply magical.

There are secret dangers everywhere these days and unless you actually go looking for them you have a great chance on missing out on what could prove to be useful information. Looking for trouble sounds crazy and exhausting. I look at it this way - if you're reading this blog then it's likely you're interested in these hidden dangers and I'm happy to share whatever I've learned with you.

The subject of toxins in tea was just one of those thoughts I had in passing and chose to revisit. Honestly, it came to me while I sat watching The Backyardigans with my daughter. I let my mind wander and suddenly found myself wondering - are there hidden toxins in tea? It wasn't a search that took much digging to find an answer to my question, and that answer was a resounding yes.

Many tea bags are produced using a nasty chemical used in the production of plastics and insecticides. When this chemical, epichlorohydrin, comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes into a carcinogen. In a world where we are trying so hard to rid our homes and bodies of endocrine disruptors we sit down with a nice, hot, cup of cellular metabolic process disruptors.

But wait there's more! (I'm so so sorry . . . )

Tea bags are also usually bleached (that's how most of our household items [examples: toilet paper, baby wipes] get that lovely white color. The edges of these bleached bags are also sealed using MORE CHEMICALS!

After these tea bags have been made with epichlorohyrin, bleached, and heat sealed with chemicals; the bags are "wet strengthened" using additional chemicals making sure that the bag doesn't fall apart upon impact with your hot water.

How can you avoid these pitfalls? Check labels. Some teas are made with chemical free bags. Look for "chemical free" or "bleach free" and I should think any company side-stepping a clear answer about if their products are exposed to these things or not should be side-stepped when it comes to your next cup of tea.

Tea companies I found to be free of epichlorohydrin
Twinings (uses a thin layer of polypropylene plastic to seal the tea bags)

Tea companies best to avoid on this issue
Celestial Seasonings
Bigelow (contain polyamine-epichlorohydrin resins)
Yogi (contain polyamine-epichlorohydrin resins)
Numi (provided an inconclusive response when questioned)
Ahmad (will not respond)
Salada (will not respond)
Tazo (will not respond)
Harney & Sons Fine Teas (will not respond)
Ginar (will not respond)
Red Rose

Alternative options
Loose tea
Bag your own tea

Related reading
The Truth: About Tea Bags
Twinings FAQ
Bleach in teabags - health risks
Bleached tea bags
Yahoo! Answers
Green Tea May Fight Cancer But The Tea Bags Might Cause It
List of Epichlorohydrin Free Tea Products
How To Tell if Epichlorohydrin Is In Your Tea

1 comment:

  1. I did get a reassuring response from "Traditional Medicinals" tea company when I wrote them on this issue...
    "Like you, we are concerned about what goes into our bodies. That’s why we use unbleached tea bags made from abacá (Musa textilis), also sometimes known as manila hemp. The tea bags are attached with aluminum staple wire to teabag string made of raw cotton (Gossypium spp.), instead of sealed with glue. Our tea bags do not contain epichlorohydrin. We hope this puts your mind at ease."