Canada’s CBC News recently hired an accredited laboratory to test the pesticide levels in different brands of tea. The lab used the same methods that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses to check for the residues of pesticides in dried tea leaves.
Ten varieties were tested, and they were made by the following companies: Twinings, Tetley, Red Rose, Lipton, Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, Signal, No Name, and King Cole. The first four listed make the most popular teas in Canada. The lab tested two types of tea made by Lipton and Uncle Lee’s. The teas tested included green tea, black tea and orange pekoe tea.
Over half of the teas contained pesticide levels that exceeded the amounts allowed by the Canadian government. Eight of the brands contained multiple pesticides, with one tea, Uncle Lee’s Legends of China green tea having over 20 chemicals in it. No Name had residues from 10 pesticides in its tea. Only Red Rose came back clean with no pesticides at all.
Worse, some of the teas contained pesticides that some countries are considering banning, because they are either dangerous to workers, harmful to the environment, or both. Monocrotophos, for example, can cause bowel incontinence, irregular heartbeats and coma. There is a dangerously high amount of it in King Cole tea. Endosulfan can cause neurological problems and can even kill. It is one of the over 20 pesticides found in the green tea made by Uncle Lee’s Legends of China.
Naturally, the tea companies are not happy with the publication of the study’s results. James O’Young, the vice president of Uncle Lee’s Legends of China protested, “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.”
Somehow, Red Rose has managed to sell tea that isn’t covered with the residues of pesticides. That proves it is possible to produce and sell tea that is pesticide-free. Consumers can help themselves by avoiding the most pesticide-laden teas while supporting companies like Red Rose.