Archive | January, 2014

Do You Know Whats Really In Your Tea?

8 Jan


Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?


Tea is something I drink every single day. It’s sacred at my house – I even have a whole drawer devoted to it! I drink it because it is amazing for your health. There are so many varieties of tea that can improve digestion, metabolism and even prevent certain diseases. This investigation into tea ingredients has been in the making for a long time. What I’m about to share with you totally rocked my world forever and I’ll never look at tea in the same way again. Do you really want to know what’s in your tea?…Then read on.


Food Babe's Tea DrawerThe ancient Chinese tradition of drinking tea dates back thousand of years to the early Chinese dynasties and aristocrats who drank the beverage for its medicinal properties. In ancient times, leaves from the Camellia Sinensis (the tea plant) were either ground into a powder or placed as loose leaves directly into water to infuse it with herbal essence. Unfortunately, modern day tea is nothing like the unadulterated version of old tea. Many of today’s tea brands are operating under the guise of providing health benefits and promoting clean living, but are actually laden with pesticides, toxins, artificial ingredients, added flavors and GMOs. 



Conventional Teas – An Abundance of Pesticides

Did you know that most tea is not washed before it is put it into bags? That means if the tea was sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides, those pesticides go directly into your cup. And this is the reason why tea is on my organic shopping priority list. To prove this point, here are some shocking facts about one of the most well-known tea brands – Celestial Seasonings.

A recent third-party analysis by Glaucus Research found that 91 percent of Celestial Seasonings tea tested had pesticide residues exceeding the U.S. limits. For example, Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal contained 0.26 ppm of propachlor, which is a known carcinogen under California’s Propsition 65.

The “Wellness” tea line was found to contain traces of propargite, also a known carcinogen and developmental toxin. The FDA has already issued two warning letters to Celestial Seasonings in regard to poor quality control. Imagine what happens when pesticide-laden tea is steeped in boiling water.

If grocery store brands don’t provide a clean option for you, perhaps a high-end loose leaf tea would circumvent some of the issues of grocery store brands. Right? Wrong! Take Teavana, which is found in malls across North America for example. Teavana taps into tea culture with the “Teavana Experience.” Convincing their employees to take customers on a sensory journey – they open a huge canister of loose leaf tea and wave the top of the canister so you can smell the tea – touting all of the wonderful health benefits of tea complete with samples and manipulative demonstrations that end in an expensive visit to the tea shop. Is all the extra money worth it? Are customers getting a superior tea product? No.

Teavana tea was tested by an independent lab and 100 percent of it was found to contain pesticides. One tea in particular, Monkey Picked Oolong, contained 23 pesticides. 77 percent of the teas would fail European Union pesticide import standards, and would be banned from import. 62 percent of the teas tested contained traces of endosulfan, a pesticide that has been banned by the U.S., China, the E.U., and 144 other countries because it has been linked to impaired fertility and could harm unborn babies.

Teas Can Contain Artificial Flavoring, Natural Flavors, and Hidden GMOs

Furthermore, a majority of Teavana teas contain added flavor – specifically “artificial flavoring.” If their tea is so high end, why would they be adding ingredients produced by fractional distillation and chemical manipulation of various chemicals like crude oil or coal tar? Coal tar in my tea? No, thanks.


Many popular tea brands get away with using the ingredient “natural flavors” to trick the consumer into thinking they are buying better, cleaner ingredients; however companies are just covering up the inferior taste and low quality of their tea. Fortunately, there are brands that are putting the kibash on the use of natural flavors and using all real ingredients. I was happy to learn that Ahmed Rahim, CEO of

PopularTeaBrandIngredientsMany popular tea brands get away with using the ingredient “natural flavors” to trick the consumer into thinking they are buying better, cleaner ingredients; however companies are just covering up the inferior taste and low quality of their tea. Fortunately, there are brands that are putting the kibash on the use of natural flavors and using all real ingredients. I was happy to learn that Ahmed Rahim, CEO of Numi Tea is just as disgusted by this ingredient as I am. He said to me “You can breakdown anything that is found in nature and if it ends up tasting like the flavor you wish to use – you can add it to any product and call it NATURAL FLAVOR on the ingredient label. It could come from a stone in the ground and you’d never know.” This is why when I see the words “natural flavor” listed on a label – I put the product down and run far far away. I want to know what I am eating! Don’t you? 

Additionally, the added risk of consuming possible GMOs is not something many people think about when consuming teas. Before this investigation and witnessing tea companies using modified corn starch and soy lecithin in tea (additives likely made from genetically engineered corn and soy), I didn’t think about it either! I can’t imagine having a serious soy allergy, considering all the places companies try to hide it.



Why The Tea Bag & Packaging Matters

A recent article in The Atlantic discusses the “silky sachet” and “luxurious mesh bags” that hold loose leaf teas (like in brands Tea Forte and Mighty Leaf). Turns out, these modern day bags meant to showcase the tea leaves, are made of plastic.

PLA (polylactic acid) is a (likely GMO) corn-based tea bag material that has attracted major tea companies due to its nice look and its claims of biodegradability. Terms like “silky sachets” and “corn-based biodegradable tea bags” mislead customers into believing a product is more natural and sustainable than it really is. While the processing for PLA removes all traces of genetic material, it is still made with genetically modified corn. Although the actual tea bag is not an ingredient like teas and herbs, it is an element that is put into boiling water.

According to The Atlantic, tea bags are most commonly made from food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which are two of what’s considered the safest plastics on the scale of harmful leaching potential. However, Dr. Mercola disagrees, he states:

“While these plastics are generally considered among the safest in terms of leaching potential, the molecules in these plastic tea bags may still in fact break down and leach out when steeped in boiling water…” Well, isn’t that how tea is prepared?

Another temperature consumers need to worry about in tea is the “glass transition” temperature. Here’s the science behind the glass transition temperature or, Tg, and why it becomes dangerous according to The Atlantic:

“That is the temperature at which the molecule in certain materials such as polymers begin to break down. As a rule, the Tg of a material is always lower than the melting point. In the case of PET and food grade nylon (either nylon 6 or nylon 6-6), all have a Tg lower than the temperature of boiling water. For example, while the melting point of PET is 482 degrees Fahrenheit, the Tg is about 169 degrees. Both nylons have a lower glass transition temperature than PET. (Remember that water boils at 212 degrees.) This means the molecules that make up these plastic tea bags begin to break down in hot water.”


So, while the plastic itself won’t melt in your tea, the glass transition temperature could potentially leak out harmful phthalates if there are such things in your tea. Another thing to worry about is that some of the newer tea bags are made with a variety of plastics. Some plastics are nylon, some are made of viscose rayon, and others are made of thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene.

Beware of paper tea bags too, which can be worse than plastic tea bags.

GET THIS: Many paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins. Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is also used as a pesticide. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It has also been implicated in infertility (it has a spermatoxic effect in male rats) and suppressed immune function.

So what do you do the next time you want a cup of tea? Antioxidant rich teas aren’t going to do much to counterbalance the chemicals, additives and artificial flavorings in today’s modern teas.

First, I recommend looking at this chart below to see how your favorite tea brand stacks up:


Tea 2 

And then when brewing and picking out the safest tea remember these tips:

1. Choose an organic & non-GMO certified brand of tea. (My favorites are NumiTraditional Medicinals, and Rishi Tea (loose leaf)).

2. Check the ingredient list on the back of the tea package to make sure there are no added flavors, GMO ingredients like soy lecithin and corn starch added to the tea leaves.

3. Make sure the brand you buy uses a safe form of packaging material or buy loose leaf tea and use a stainless steel or glass tea strainer. Have the company verify that bags do not contain epichlorophydrin, and avoid plastic tea bags all together. (Numi and Traditional Medicinals are some of the only brands I trust in this category because they have publicly stated they do not use this harmful ingredient or GMO packaging and are Non-GMO Project verified.) 

4. The majority of restaurants use some of the most pesticide ridden tea and brands that have harmful packaging like Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, Bigelow, etc. Don’t fall victim to this. Bring your own tea when eating out or going to restaurants and ask for pot or cup of boiling water (remember to leave a good tip if you do this). I even do this at Starbucks because I like to vote with my dollars and not buy tea brands that are harmful. If you drink iced tea, brew your own at home and carry an insulated water bottle with you.

5. Remember these temps and times for brewing the perfect cup of tea




If you know someone who loves to drink tea, please share this post with them. I was just as shocked as you probably are about all of this craziness – knowing what’s in our tea and what we put in our body matters! Let’s change the world together.

Food Babe


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

4 Jan

Where have I been the last 10 years in regards to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Oh yes, listening to a bunch of super amazing bands en español. I had 2 people tell me in the past few months, “I can’t believe you aren’t familiar with their songs! I really think you would like them.” OK pues.

I was about to go to sleep one day when I decided to preview their first CD “Fever to Tell” on Itunes. OMG. Its the rock dose I have needed for the past few months. This is exactly what the world needs right now. Real, distortion driven, energetic, unapologetic music with guts and stamina. This is exactly what Dave Grohl meant at the American Music Awards when he said that the world needed “real powerful guitar driven bands in the mainstream music world.”

I couldn’t believe that this CD was only 37 minutes long. I wish it was longer because I didn’t want it to end. The title song “Rich” is incredibly rock catchy and driven by the vocals of Ms. Karen O. The second song “Date with the Night” I vaguely remember and thats simply because of Karen O’s sexual gestures. 10 years later… what a freakin’ song! Yes, its highly sexual, but its so rash, energetic, danceable yet rock driven, and full of phenomenal guitar and drums.

I can sit here and talk about the rest of their album, but I want to actually talk about YYY as a whole. First, Karen O:

She’s happy as she smiles as she performs, full of life, in control of her performance, highly dominant, unique, erotic, sexual, talented and uses her voice as an instrument to create art. Her stage presence is one of a kind as she captivates everyone in the room. Karen O’s voice is flawless- at least in the early stages of the band. She sounds just as the recordings, but with added effects and emotions. Karen O is impossible to ignore as she is filled with surprising stage antics that are reminiscent of David Bowie with his bright colors and embellished sense of style. She also reminds me of Iggy Pop. Shes controlled chaos. Crazy, but balanced. The outfits are colorful, mismatched, asymettrical yet perfectly balanced with her smile and wonderfully femenine makeup. Has anybody used a wired microphone like the way that she does? Its almost as if the mic is her toy, but she also treats it as as a blessing to be using. Its an honor for her to be using a mic and she demonstrates it. And by toy I mean her own sexual toy. And by sexual toy I mean a women’s personal sex toy OR her own man’s penis.  She screams, shrieks, and melodically sings her songs. She flirts between the lines of sensual, erotic, and sexual – all at once. I understand why so people consider her a sex goddess.

Second: The actual music. The guitar and drums and voice are blended together to create  powerful, pieces of art with each of their songs. Its easy to overlook the energy filled drums and wall of sound created by the guitarist. They are so flawless that they almost sound like a recording. The sounds range from disco beats to grunge filled chords to U2-ish sound effects that fill the aura of the room. These two men are clearly trained and experienced musicians even at such a young age. Its hard to believe that only 2 people are playing instruments in this band. Yet both are so in control of their instrument. Like Karen O, they are masterfully controlled chaos musicians. By the way, they definitely improvise in their live performances.

Third: the actual music and performances

Heads Will Roll (live) from their second CD. This is what I mean by danceable rock music- if that makes any sense. Its a good introductory song for non-rock or non- YYY fans.

Pin, Gold Lion and Maps. This is what I mean by saying that the microphone is her toy! The audience is also her friend. The last song “Maps” is considered one of the best songs of 2000’s and shows off Karen O’s melodic voice versus her rock screams.

Date with the Night (live). This is hard core early YYY. You’ve been warned. Its a highly sexual song and Karen O doesn’t back off with her screams and use of the mic at all. Watch and listen specifically to the guitar part. Absolute genius work acting like a bass and a lead guitar and rhythm guitar

I just think the last two videos are phenomenal performances and I wanted to share:

Y Control (live)- I really enjoy this video because it shows Karen O being incredibly free, unrestricted while having fun. Its what everyone wants to do while singing along to our favorite rock songs in our room. She uses every single inch of that stage. And shes so happy!! And the drummer playing with one hand in some parts of the song!

Rich (live)- Such a raw performance. Great guitar melody, syncopated drums and Karen O’s stage presence. Such a cochina. I love it! lol

Thank you YYY’s. I just purchased your first 3 CD’s and have good faith in rock music again!