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. But it turns out that some tea bags aren’t so heart-warming but rather toxic.
Some tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a plastic that helps to keep the bags from breaking. The problem is that epichlorohydrin can potentially break down in water…and be released into your drink. The Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water with high levels of epichlorohydrin, over a long period of time, could cause stomach problems and an increased risk of cancer. For perspective: The E.P.A. allows up to 20 parts per million in drinking water, and epichlorohydrin-containing bags may include 50 parts per billion. Nonetheless, the E.P.A.’s stated current goal is zero parts. But don’t panic–try these toxin-free teas below.
Bagged Organic Tea
The following are all free of epichlorohydrin, as well as pesticides and artificial flavorings:
- Numi Tea: “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: 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: “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: “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,” explains Stash’s website. “The filter paper is not coated with the compound called epichlorohydrin, and does not contain any free epichlorohydrin.”
- Choice Organic Teas: 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: “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: “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: “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: “We currently use a non-heat sealable 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.”
Bagged Conventional Tea
- Tetley Black & Green tea: Tetley’s new Black & Green (a blend of both varieties) uses Perflo paper bags, which are free of epichlorohydrin. The tea is also free of pesticides. We will be happy to hear the company has done the same with all of their lines.
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.
- Teanzo 1856: “We use only natural and organic flavors and ingredients. Nothing artificial,” says founder Meena Kapur.
- California Tea House: Says co-founder Will Bailey, “All of our teas are free of pesticides and artificial flavors and organically grown. Many are USDA certified organic.”
- Upton Tea Imports: The company offers a host of high-grade, organic varieties.
Know more toxin-free teas? We want to know. Tell us on Twitter at @cleanplates or on our Facebook page.