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.
We do everything we can to avoid consuming these toxic pesticides, and 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 by several countries due to the health risks it poses to workers that handle it and the negative impact that it has on the environment.
Best and Worst Brands
Although 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 environment 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.
- No Name. Although it comes nowhere close to Uncle Lee’s Green Tea, it is still contains over 10 different types of pesticides.
- King Cole. 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 has also been known to 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 it’s what brand is that, 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.