Dangerous Levels of Pesticides in Teavana Tea?
Here is some further info- I do not want anyone to think that a simple retail test is actually going to tell them whether a product is “organic” or not.
1) When you test a product for pesticides, you do not spend $10. Bona fide laboratory testing of these types starts in the $1000’s of dollars. And that is for testing of just a few compounds. There is very expensive equipment involved, a lot of training on taking the sample (tea leaves or soil), sample handling, and extraction that affect the results, etc. etc. etc. Trust me when I say it just is not that easy.
2) There are literally thousands of different chemicals that can be used for crop production. That particular $10 test covers two (they are actually herbicides and not pesticides, atrazine and simazine). But even with that test, without the proper extraction technique, your results are not going to be accurate anyway (the test is for water, not leaves). These compounds are not soluble in water.
3) Just to have leaves tested in the lab, you could expect to spend somewhere upwards of about $50K. This is apart from the costs of sampling- there are a quagmire of problems that come along with ensuring proper sampling & handling techniques (both honest mistakes and actual deception- pesticide testing is a very touchy topic). It does not just cost money to do the test, it costs money to do the sampling as well.
4) And that probably would not include the chemicals that are still very legal in China, but have been banned in the U.S. and E.U., simply because we are unaware of them.
I hope you all will excuse me for rambling- When I read that lab report a while back I did do quite a bit of digging. I did not post anything here about it, because it is a highly touchy subject, and a very complex one too.
But I will state that I did contact Teavana, and here is a very brief summary of what happened. I specifically asked about returning the Copper Knot Hongcha I had just bought (on sale).
1) I was told that there are no returns on sale items, period. I was reminded it says so on the receipt.
2) I brought up the topic of the pesticide report. I was put on hold.
3) First red flag- When I asked about their claim that they tested the tea and it meets European standards, I asked them “which standards?” I was put on hold again. (side note- standards are published documents, they have names and numbers and agencies that publish them. They are usually available on the web.) They came back, repeated that they were the European ones. After another attempt to get specific details, the person on the phone told me she could not tell me which ones.
4) Second red flag- I asked if they had any of their own test results that were available. Put on hold again. (side note- you make a claim that you meet a standard, you should have a test results that shows it). She said no. They did not have anything available.
5) Finally, I asked again about returning the tea, she reiterated that there were no returns on sale items. No “sorry about that”, no “we are investigation the claims”, nothing indicating they had any interest whatsoever in making an unhappy customer a happy one. I would have been tickled pink if they had even just thrown me a bone & offered me a small coupon good towards my next purchase.
I promise this is my last comment :)
I am still drinking the tea. I assume that the vast majority of the tea available is going to have some residual pesticides/herbicides/fungicides. Even the stuff labeled “organic” probably does. Ever since labeling things “organic” became profitable, there have been people figuring out ways around it. If you want to see something scary, research exactly what it takes to be certified.
Thanks for posting, Erin. I appreciate the information and opinions you are sharing. So you think the tea is safe to drink?
I have been drinking the Teavana tea I purchased, but I’ve been rinsing it in running water before steeping it. You know how you rinse carrots or potatoes before cooking them, to help clean off dirt or whatever “stuff” might be on there? I don’t know whether this helps or not, but given that I can’t return the tea, and I hate to throw it away without any type of proof of that it really is tainted, I feel like I have to do something.
I’ve been rinsing too but I do that with all my teas. I pour hot water over the leaves, swirl it around, dump the water and then steep properly.
Infusin_Susan, whether something is “safe” is kind of a complex issue. I will say that I am drinking the tea, with no reservation.
I do have a much longer answer to your question, if you would like. I can send it to you via PM if you want. It may especially be handy if you are having a problem falling asleep :) I know my diatribes are boring.
For a quick follow-up, you may wish to look at these two links (one is a scientific article, and the other is a newspaper article about the scientific article):
Well, when such report comes out it’s not enough to just deny the claims… They should back that up with some unbiased tests showing that in fact their tea is safe. I only buy my Silver Needle from them and I will finish what I have but I will also be taking my business elsewhere until they can show me that I have nothing to be worried about.
That has been my main complaint about the whole issue. They are making money off of these claims, and I simply do not believe they are doing the necessary work to ensure the claims are accurate. At best, it is negligent. At worst, it is deception.
Given the reports of how Teavana treats their employees, and how they run their business, it is quite in-line to think they would go for the quick buck in placing the “label” (organic, or that their products meet European standards) on their products with no though whatsoever to its accuracy. Or simply making it up knowing it is not true. I would not be surprised at all if they are using batches of tea that were found to exceed the limits and could not be sold in Europe. The price would then drop, making quite a good money-maker for Teavana to then buy it & dump it on the American market.
At the Teavana stores in my area, none of the teas are labeled organic and I’ve never had an employee tell me they were. Teavana’s website only lists one organic product, which is a honey. I get very few teas from Teavana, but unless a tea is specifically labeled organic, I don’t assume it to be so. Pesticides are used all over the main tea producing countries, so it really doesn’t matter which company you get your tea from, there is likely going to be some pesticide residue. Even if it is labeled organic, its not a certainty that its not tainted, because they don’t test every batch of tea. The tea farms that Teavana sources from also do business with lots of other companies. That’s not to say I don’t sympathize with you in regard to the poor treatment you were given.
It is interesting, would pesticides degrade in Pu-erh over some time period? How long it takes?
I’m afraid that no commercialized tea is 100% pure. It would take a completely controlled environment, down to the soil lead content, pollution levels of the area, past agricultural use of the land it was grown on, and even the quality of the water to say that a tea leaf is free of any toxins. Sadly many toxins found in food are a result of natural processes. Reports do claim that most of these stay in the leaf and do not leech out into the water, so maybe drinking tea from areas like China do not mean you get the high toxicity in your system, just your left over leaves. I still buy loose leaf teas from quality sellers, but do not get so upset if a report comes out defaming my “organic” tea. Some things are just out of my control, unless I grow my own tea.