Although pesticides are useful when it comes to destroying pests that are harmful to crops, these substances can seriously damage people’s health. This is why we all desperately try to avoid them by all means, but that seems quite impossible. Unfortunately, they are everywhere – sprayed in school playgrounds and public parks, and even the produce we buy from grocery stores can be high in these toxic substances.
As a precaution, we all thoroughly wash our produce prior to consumption, or we stick to buying organic or homegrown fruits and vegetables. Still, pesticides somehow always manage to creep into our homes, which is confirmed by the recent discovery of extremely high levels of these toxic substances in several popular tea brands including Twinings, Lipton and Tetley.
Pesticides in Tea
The following major tea-producing companies were included in a CBC News investigation on pesticide levels:
- Red Rose
- Lipton (Pure Green Tea and Yellow Label Black Tea)
- King Cole
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China (Green Tea and Jasmine Green Tea)
- No Name
Employing the same testing method as the one employed by the national Food Inspection Agency, the investigators from CBC carried out their testing of the pesticide residue on the dry tea leaves in an accredited lab. The findings showed that more than half of all the teas included in the testing contained pesticide residues that were above the legally acceptable limit. Moreover, eight out of the ten teas tested were also found to contain multiple chemicals. One of these teas was found to contain over 22 different kinds of pesticides.
Endosulfan and monocrotophos, two types of pesticides found in the teas tested, are substances that are shown to threaten human health and the environment, which is why currently several countries demand that these chemicals be banned.
Which Are the Best and Worst Tea Brands?
Despite the fact that most of the tea brands tested had pesticide residues in them (except for one brand), several brands were extremely high in pesticides, whereas others stayed below the permitted limits. While pesticide-free teas would be the best option, here’s a list of the worst tea brands you should shun from regardless of how desperately you are in need of a cup of tea:
- Uncle Lee’s Legends of China (Green Tea) – This tea brand was found to contain over 20 different types of pesticides, including endosulfan. As we mentioned above, this particular substance is currently threatened to be banned from many countries owing to its damaging health and environmental effects. The consumption of endosulfan has been found to cause side effects such as tremors as well as other negative effects on the nervous system, while in some cases its consumption has also led to death.
- No Name – Even though the pesticide content of this tea brand cannot be compared to the one of Uncle Lee’s Green Tea, it still includes over 10 different pesticides.
- King Cole – This tea brand doesn’t contain as many types of pesticides as the No Name brand, however, it does contain a wider variety of these toxic substances, including monocrotophos, a chemical known to give rise to irregular heartbeat and involuntary defecation, as well as to induce comas.
The fuss about the heavily pesticide-laden tea brands has not been avoided by the tea industry. In fact, James O’ Young, the vice president of Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, the tea brand found to contain the highest level of pesticides, stood up for his tea brand by maintaining that their tea is not the only one that contains pesticides and that actually pesticides are present in all teas. In an interview, he said:
“If you drink tea, regular tea, I don’t care what brand is that, the fact of life, this agricultural product does have pesticides.”
However, it seems that Mr. O’ Young has ignored the fact that CBC’s investigation actually found that one brand, out of the 10 tea brands being tested in the investigation, came back completely free of pesticides. That brand was Red Rose, the only brand that was completely pesticide-free and the brand that restores our faith in safe and pesticide-free food. The findings of the CBC’s investigation have shown us two important things. Firstly, that it is actually possible to cultivate tea without any pesticide traces ending on it, and secondly, that the representatives of some big corporations are impudently deceiving us about it.
Help pesticide-free tea companies by steering clear of brands known to be heavily laden with pesticides, like Uncle Lee’s and No Name tea brands, and buy only from those brands that are known to contain little to no pesticides.