WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: THE TEA INDUSTRY’S, WELL KEPT SECRET
June 5, 2020
So how do you enjoy your brew? With milk, sugar or with carcinogenic chemicals or plastic?
When I started Gaiafarm Holistic tea, I wanted to create an eco-friendly tea product from creation to packaging. So, I wanted to create loosely crushed holistic tea leaf products with individually packaged bags. Interestingly though, from our market survey, we found that most people still enjoyed their tea leaves packed in teabags unlike me who enjoys it in a loose form using an infuser. So, I brought in: bulk single-use, 100% unbleached natural paper with an unbleached natural cotton string and paper tag, biodegradable, free from any chemicals/plastic coating.
Here’s the well kept secret, majority of tea bags are still coated with plastic substances/chemicals used to prevent insects like dust mite from getting into the product, when stored for long period of time. So, if you still enjoy your favourite brew in a teabag, here is the bad news: majority of teabags with longer shelf life are coated with chemicals like epichlorohydrin—a known carcinogen that is particularly active in hot water. Or plastic substances like Epi Resin, an epoxy resin added to tea bags to increase “wet strength, also a carcinogenic and genotoxin.
Another chemical used is chlorine to bleach the teabag to a very white colour. Chlorine poses serious health risks and is an environmental toxin. In the market many of the heat sealing, white colour, stingless, unstapled tea bags that are employed as filter paper (see above 1st image) are treated & coated with a polyamide plastic that allows the paper to seal together using heat.
Now imagine, every time you make tea using a teabag, most likely you could be steeping and drinking toxins from the plastic or other carcinogenic chemical which bio-accumulate in the body. Their you have it! This is the tea industry’s well-kept secret, because by law, they don’t need to disclose this information on their product packaging. We see organic, caffeine free packaged tea products and you think “YEP, I got me a healthy drink; but in most cases it’s not.
How do I know all of this? Well, I didn’t just stumble into the herbal tea infusion formulation & blending industry, I worked part-time in a natural food shop while at University. So naturally I became very interested in “natural” and certified organic packaged teas in the market.
Even though, most tea company’s may claim it’s just low levels of these chemicals on the tea bags to increase the shelf-life. What if a person [a tea addict, like me] drinks 3-4 cups every single day using 2-4 teabags. What do you think will happen? truth about these chemicals is that they may bio-accumulate in the body and may later pose health risks. In this case, we have to own our health and wellness. I doubt any tea company will willing confirm or deny that they use this coating on their teabags, because they are not legally bound to say it.
As a personal choice, I don’t drink tea from a tea bag filter except purchased by me because I don’t know whether if it has been treated with toxic chemicals, even if it’s claimed there are no trace amounts in the final product.
I’ve made this decision for two reasons:
Firstly, for my health: the chemicals that leach out of plastic coating, gets absorbed by every cell in the body and in some people like me it may initiate tumors growth, like fibroids. And I have a history of several fibroids growth which had to be removed.
Secondly for environmental reasons mother (Gaia) earth has been through enough with our constant waste generation.
On overall, if you are asking what more do you need to do health and environment wise? Then get “loose” with your tea leaf!
Well if I haven’t convinced you yet to change your ways to be more hands on with your tea experience. Just remember its healthy and reduces single-use waste generation. Really, there isn’t a need for individually packaged teabag, you may think & say it’s convenient, but so is using a reusable tea bag/prongs/infuser, with loose tea leaf.
Let’s re-think what we throw away and change our ways as a pledge toward #worldenvironmentday celebrated annually on the 5th of June.
So let’s pledge to GET LOOSE, WITH YOUR TEA LEAF.
The Tea Industry- Well-Kept Secret
Written By Rashida Oluwaseyi Raji. Homeopathic advisor, MSc Pharma, HACCP and NEBOSH.