What’s in Your Tea?

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Society Staff Writer | Korina Meister | km912013@ohio.edu

Tea has become an increasingly popular drink over the past few years because it has the caffeine found in coffee, plus great health benefits. It has been found to lower the risk of depression, contain antioxidants and support the immune system. Stores like Teavana sell tea products exclusively, including dozens of types of loose leaf teas. Unfortunately, the leading chain is not only ripping off customers with their products, but it is also deceiving them with unknown additives.

Teavana is a popular international tea company with over 400 stores. Source: Sheila Thomson via Flickr.
Teavana is a popular international tea company with over 400 stores. Source: Sheila Thomson via Flickr.

Other lesser-known tea companies are losing business to Teavana, in spite of high prices and mediocre quality. The least amount of tea someone can buy at Teavana is 2 ounces, which can range from $6 to $10 and the instructions say only 2 teaspoons are needed per cup.

One of the first things people may notice about the stores’ tea is that the loose leaf tea bought and brewed at home does not taste as good as the free samples they offer in stores. The website Consumerist.com had an interview with a former Teavana employee who revealed “discrepancy between the samples in the store and the tea that results from directions given to customers can be pretty extreme.”

The Journal Sentinel researched this further and found that “For an 8-ounce cup of tea, Teavana uses as much as 12 teaspoons of loose tea…it’ll cost you, not the 76 cents per cup they tell you at the store, but $9.12!”

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Despite Teavana’s national popularity, its tea has been found to have a surprisingly high amount of pesticides in it. Source: Steven Depolo via Flickr.

You could just accept this and put more tea in your cup, but Teavana’s tea also contains pesticides that other companies do not. You would hope for the extra money at least to get all the health benefits that tea can provide, but this might not be true if you’re a Teavana customer. According to popular food blog FoodBabe, 100 percent of the teas tested in a lab contained pesticides, and 77 percent of their teas “would fail European Union pesticide import standards, and would be banned from import.” The flavors in tea are supposed to be all natural, yet it was found that Teavana is using artificial flavorings to enhance the taste, something a good tea company shouldn’t need.

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Rishi Tea sells organic tea for a healthier tea choice. Source: Jamieanne via Flickr.

However, there is still hope for those looking to drink tea from several top-notch companies that sell high quality teas. Mountainroseherbs.com boasts of organic ingredients, and prices range from $6 to $10 for 4 ounces of tea (that’s more tea for the same price and healthier ingredients). There’s also Rishi-tea.com which offers $2 teasers, while being Fair Trade certified and promising organic ingredients. Finally, you can get tea locally in Athens from the Herbal Sage Tea Company, which can be found online or in local coffee shops and stores. The website promises “No flavorings, no extracts, just hand crafted teas made with natural herbs,” and specific teas offer benefits like getting rid of a cough, cramps or detoxing.

Just because Teavana is the most popular tea store in the market, definitely does not mean that they are the best. Before you brew your next cup of tea, know exactly what’s going into those leaves and your body.

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