Which Tea Brands Contain THESE Harmful Chemicals! How To Choose The Right Type

Could your tea be steeped in something toxic? 

Yesunless you choose the right type

Few things are more relaxing than having a cup of tea in your favorite mug. And, as numerous scientific studies have shown, few things are healthier, as tea leaves have been shown to reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as lowering cholesterol, and improving mental focus.

Tea is one of the most popular drinks enjoyed around the world. Americans drink up to 80 billion cups of tea a year while their Canadian neighbors drink almost 10 billion cups of tea a year (1,2).

Conventional Tea Brands May Contain Pesticides and Fluoride

Are you aware that some tea brands can contain harmful chemicals for our health? Even though tea is widely considered to be a healthier alternative to coffee, many conventional tea brands have been found to contain high levels of toxic substances such as fluoride and different pesticides. The levels found in these products are so high that the teas are considered unsafe for consumption. Just like with other products, all tea is not created equal. Maybe you can save a few dollars if you buy cheaper tea. But, that can cost you more when it comes to your health.

How Does Fluoride End Up In Teas?

Most tea doesn’t pass the process of washing before the distribution into bags. If the tea was sprayed with pesticides, those pesticides will directly wind up in your favorite tea cup. Many non-organic tea brands contain pesticides that are known carcinogens.

Tea plants absorb fluoride from the soil, but they also accumulate it as they grow. This means that older leaves contain the most fluoride. Since cheaper quality teas are often made from older tea leaves, they contain more fluoride. They also contain the least amount of anti-oxidants, which lessens the heath benefits associated with drinking tea.

The biggest reason why these toxic substances can be found in tea is because most tea isn’t washed before it is distributed into bags. Therefore, if the tea was sprayed with pesticides, the same will end up directly into your cup. Plenty of non-organic tea brands have been found to contain pesticides that are known carcinogens.

According to a study published in Food Research International, a significant percentage of the United Kingdom population greatly exceeds the recommended dietary intake for fluoride, which can lead to harmful health effects. The study also found that the overexposure was occurring specifically from the consumption of tea. As you might already know, overexposure to fluoride can cause serious problems with the bones and teeth, as well as kidney problems.

Popular tea brands often get away with listing “natural flavors” as an ingredient. Many consumers think they are buying cleaner and better ingredients. But what “natural flavors” could mean!?

A study published in Food Research International found that a big percentage of the population in United Kingdom considerably passed the recommended dietary intake for fluoride. That can consequently lead to detrimental health effects. The overexposure was specifically happening from the tea consumption. Fluoride overexposure  can cause serious health problems with the teeth and bones, as well as kidney problems.

Which Tea Brands Contain The Most Toxins?

Since tea is often praised as a healthy drink, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also decided to investigate whether or not the most popular tea brands contained traces of pesticides in their products that could undermine the health benefits of the tea.

To find out if the worst offenders are still on the market, CBC hired an accredited lab to retest some of Canada’s most popular brands, including Lipton, Red Rose, Tetley, and Twinings.

The full list includes:

Twinings – Earl Grey

Tetley – green tea

Lipton – yellow label black tea

Signal – orange pekoe

Uncle Lee’s Legends of China – jasmine green tea

King Cole – orange pekoe

No Name – black tea

Uncle Lee’s Legends of China – green tea

Lipton – pure green tea

Red Rose – orange pekoe

They rigorously followed the testing method employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure accurate results.

Watch the following video to see the different tea brands and how they actually measure up in terms of health:


The investigation revealed that half the teas had traces of pesticides higher than the legal limit in Canada. Some even contained pesticides banned worldwide.

Pesticides In Tea: The 5 Worst Offenders!

6/10 of the teas tested contained a cocktail of pesticides, but each was below Canadian limits. These three, however, were way above these guidelines.

1. Twinings Earl Grey

This classic tea is considered a relatively high quality bagged tea. However, it placed third highest in pesticide content. Most alarmingly, this tea was repeatedly found to contain acetamiprid, a poison that causes severe nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, hypothermia, convulsions, and hypoxia in small quantities (3).

2. Tetley Green Tea

Tetley green tea has been shown to contain both acetamiprid and chlorfenapyr, which is fatal in small quantities. Chlorfenapyr has delayed effects, causing death or damage to the central nervous system up to two weeks after ingestion. The CBC report showed that Tetley’s tea had 18 pesticides in its finished product, 3 over the allowable limit (4).

3. Uncle Lee’s Legends of China green tea – Uncle Lee’s Legends of China is the most toxic tea sold in Canadian grocery stores. It contained the same pesticides as Tetley as well as dangerous levels of Bifenthrin, a known carcinogen. It contained traces of 22Pesticides, 6 of which in illegal quantities (5).

It’s far from the only Chinese tee with illegal pesticides. Countless Chinese tea producers routinely use pesticides banned by China’s Ministry of Agriculture (6).

4. King Cole, which contained the monocrotophos. It is a chemical that is currently in the process of being banned, as it causes irregular heartbeat and even coma.

5. No Name, more than 10 pesticide types in its ‘formula”.

That doesn’t mean the other tea brands were completely safe.

  • The Unexpected Winner – Of all the teas tested by CBC, Red Rose (USA  & Canada) was the only brand that contained zero pesticides. The tea brand has made many efforts in recent years to be more ecofriendly and ethical. It has now received Rainforest Alliance Certification and Fair Trade Certified .

This proves that it is possible for a profitable business to give its customers pesticide-free products at a large scale.

Health Canada’s Response to results

Despite the alarming results revealed by the investigation, Health Canada insists that these pesticides aren’t a public health concern.

“Health Canada reviewed the information provided by Marketplace and for the pesticides bifenthrin, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, chlorfenapyr, pyridaben, acephate, dicofol and monocrotophos determined that consumption of tea containing the residues listed does not pose a health risk based on the level of residues reported, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. Moreover, a person would have to consume approximately 75 cups of tea per day over their entire lifetime to elicit an adverse health effect,” a spokesperson wrote to the CBC in a statement.

But not everyone agrees :

”This is very worrisome from a number of perspectives,” environmental lawyer David Boyd told CBC.  “I think that’s a complete abdication of CFIA’s responsibility to protect Canadian people. The reality is that there is emerging science about the impacts of pesticides at very low concentrations,” he says.

“The whole point of pesticides is that they’re chemically and biologically active in parts per million or    parts per billion…Pesticides can have adverse effects at what are seemingly very small concentrations.”

For a full list of the different tea brands tested during CBC’s investigation, click here.

 What About Tea Bags?


Besides the chemicals that found in tea it turns out that some tea bags aren’t safe as well but rather toxic.  Some tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a plastic that helps to keep the bags from breaking.

The paper used to make teabags contains Epichlorohydrin.   If you have ever gotten a piece of paper wet, you know that it tends to fall apart easily. The solution that companies created was to treat the paper with something to make it stronger. The chemical of choice for this treatment was Epichlorohydrin. Epichlorohydrin is a dangerous little bugger.

The problem is that epichlorohydrin can potentially break down in water…and be released into your drink.

According to Dow Chemical (who is the largest producer of this substance):

Epichlorohydrin has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. In the U.S.A. it is considered to be a potential carcinogen for purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.

If you look at the European Statement from Dow Chemical:

“The substance should be regarded as if it is carcinogenic to man. There is sufficient evidence to provide a strong presumption that human exposure to the substance may result in the development of cancer.”

Epichlorohydrin is not only used in teabags

Other uses for this chemical include epoxy resins, textiles, inks, dyes and rubber. These aren’t exactly the ideal things you would want to eat or drink.


This is another reason to drink loose tea. Really, if not only for the flavor, aroma, antioxidants and beauty, avoiding cancer causing chemicals is another reason why to buy only loose tea.


Choosing Pesticide Free Tea & How To Avoid Toxic Chemicals 

This all doesn’t mean that you need to stop drinking tea altogether to keep yourself safe from harmful toxins or pesticides that may be lurking in your cup. After all, tea is a source of some incredible health benefits. So what’s the solution?

In general, the simplest way to avoid sipping on pesticides in tea (or other unwanted substances) along with your tea is by choosing loose-leaf unflavored organic products. It’s also worth noting that tea bags can be made of plastic fibers that leak hormone-disrupting toxins into your cup.

“Natural” or “herbal” teas that are not certified organic won’t be any better than the teas tested above, so make sure to read the labels carefully.

Flavored teas will likely contain unwanted additives like soy lecithin and natural or artificial flavors.

More Useful Tips:

  • Try to switch to white tea. Young leaves make the “content” of this tea so it has the least amount of fluoride.
  • Be sure to buy loose leaf tea or brew your own tea from scratch.
  • Buy organic! Choose a non-GMO certified brand of tea.
  • Check the ingredient list to make sure there are no added flavors or GMO ingredients added to the tea leaves.
  • Know the correct brewing times for certain types of tea. Steep Black or Pu-reh teas for 3-5 minutes; we should steep green or white teas should for 2-3 minutes; Oolong teas for 4-7 minutes. Leave herbal teas to steep for at least 5 minute. Always longer time for a stronger tea.
  • Many restaurants use tea brands full of pesticide. Therefore, be careful about ordering tea while out to eat.


Here Is A List Of Tea Brands That Are Safe!

The following are all free of epichlorohydrin, as well as pesticides and artificial flavorings:

  • Bagged Organic Tea

Numi Tea (USA & Canada) -“Our teas are pesticide-free and non-GMO verified,” confirms a company rep. “Our tea bags are made from manila hemp cellulose, and free of epichlorohydrin. The tags are made from 100% recycled material and soy-based inks.”

Rishi Tea (USA & Canada) - Rishi’s certified organic line is bagged with PLA—polylactic acid, creating “silken” bags. Unlike other “silky” bags, which can be made with PET plastic, these are corn- and potato starch-based. Adds Assistant Tea Buyer Jeff Champeau, “Our Natural Fiber Loose Leaf Tea Filters are made without glue or any other binding agent.”

EDEN Organic (USACanada) - “The bags are made from oxygen washed manila fibers with no polluting whiteners used,” confirms company rep Wendy Esko.  “Once filled, the bags are crimped and sealed with 100% cotton string. No staples, plastics, or glue are ever used.”

Organic Stash (USA  & Canada) - “The filter paper used for the bags is made from 100% cellulose fibers (wood) and is made to appear white by forcing air between the fibers. No bleach is used,” explained at Stash. “The filter paper is not coated with the compound called epichlorohydrin, and does not contain any free epichlorohydrin.”

Choice Organic Teas  (USA & Canada) - "One of the company’s consumer relations experts, Nia, assured Clean Plates that their line is not only organic but free of epichlorohydrin.

Two Leaves Organic Teas (USA & Canada) - “We pride ourselves on being pesticide-free as well as on having corn-based tea sachets,” says a company rep. The website adds, “Our sachets are made of biodegradable cornstarch based nylon, not petroleum based nylon.”

Organic Tazo (USA & Canada) - “We’ve checked with our suppliers,” says a spokesperson for Starbucks (Tazo’s owner), “and they have confirmed that the only bags we sell do not use epichlorohydrin.”

Organic Traditional Medicinals (USA & Canada) - “Our herbal teas are put into unbleached bags made from abacá (Musa textilis), also sometimes known as manila hemp,” says its website. “The tea bags are attached with aluminum staple wire to teabag string made of raw cotton and a paper tea tag.”

Organic Yogi Teas (USA & Canada) “We currently use a non-heat seal-able filtration paper made from a select blend of high quality manila hemp (abaca) fibers and wood pulp,” says a Yogi representative. “The filtration paper does not contain epichlorohydrin, nor plastic or polypropylene. It is oxygen bleached using a natural process that is completely free of chemicals or toxins, including dioxin.”

  • Loose Organic Tea

By straining your own instead of paying for packaging, you’ll get more cups for your bucks. A tea strainer makes it easy.

Numi Organic Loose Tea  (USA & Canada

Two Leaves Organic Loose Tea USA  Canada)

Teanzo 1856: (USA only) - “We use only natural and organic flavors and ingredients. Nothing artificial,” says founder Meena Kapur.

California Tea House (USA only)  Says co-founder Will Bailey, “All of our teas are free of pesticides and artificial flavors and organically grown. Many are USDA certified organic.”

  • Our favorite:

Aloe Blossom Herbal Tea - a special aloe vera tea mixed with natural blend of leaves, herbs and spices, specially prepared to provide an outstanding flavor and a rich aroma. It is not made from the aloe vera leaf, but the actual blossom.

Blossom is dried and the tea is made out of that and several other ingredients. Ingredients such as ginger, chamomile, fennel, clover, allspice, orange peel and few others. Caffeine-free, it has been formulated to leave you feeling revitalized. Whether you drink it hot or prefer it iced, Aloe Blossom Herbal Tea has a great taste and is easy to prepare. Read more...