Question about traveling with tea

I know this sounds silly, but I’m honestly confused. I’m traveling across the US/Canada border to visit my parents in Tennessee, and I’m wondering if I’ll be allowed to take some of my looseleaf tea with me. Part of me says “Erm…duh? Of course you can” but the other part remembers all the signs at the border about plants and fruits and veggies not being allowed.

So I ask my fellow steepsters: Have any of you traveled over the border with tea? Was there any trouble? I would hate to have my tea confiscated, because anything confiscated is destroyed. And since I’m taking about $20 worth off tea as a gift and then about $50 of my personal stash…I would cry forever.

Thanks for your time!

12 Replies
SimplyJenW said

I think when they are talking plants, fruits, and veggies, they mean live ones. They are looking for seeds or plant cuttings as far as I understand, or anything that you can use to propagate more non-native plants. Usually tea does not contain seeds. I was looking into getting some tea from France, and that was my interpretation of the verbage. I know Dinosara from the US was overseas not too long ago, and was able to bring tea home.

Yeah, common sense says it should be fine, but my wallet refuses to let me make any mistakes XD.

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Cofftea said

I would think there’d be a website/e-mail/phone number for customs/border patrol. That’s something I’d ask them directly.

Yes, but before I spend an hour on the phone with customs, I figured I would ask my fellow steepserites if anyone had been in this particular situation.

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Tea is definitely alright, but it’s always nice to be completely sure for the sake of your stash! CFIA just says that tea mustn’t contain pests or soil (you can put through any kind of food product here: I think there is a 3 kg limit which unless you go on a tea spree shouldn’t be a problem! You can probably find any contact info on this page.

I’m not sure about the US side of things but I would assume they have the same restrictions.

Angrboda said

And if you do go on a serious tea rampage, send yourself a package home. :)

Tea spreeeeee! Yeah, no, I’ll be in Middle Tennesse where a search for “local tea shops” turned up five local Starbucks and nothing else. sads

Thanks for your help, you’re super awesome!

Uniquity said

Probably cheaper than going over the weight limit on luggage!

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Dinosara said

I recently re-entered the US from Europe with about a kilo of tea in my suitcase. I didn’t report that I was bringing plant material in, and I didn’t get stopped by customs, but I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have been a problem if I had. I would say that SimplyJenW is correct about the interpretation of the “no plants” rule; for instance, it is perfectly legal to bring jarred preserves into the country, and those do often have seeds.

In any case, I would highly highly doubt you would even be stopped, or that they would give the tea a second glance if they found it. I flew back from Amsterdam and passport control circled that location on my customs form, so I was sure I’d be stopped and was not looking forward to explaining that yes, all of these dried leaves are tea, not pot. But the customs agent didn’t give me a second glance.

Thanks! I was fairly certain it would be No Big Deal, but just in case…well, it never hurts to ask! My mom is terrified that I’m going to be arrested because “tea looks so much like pot”. I need to know what pot she was smoking to think tea leaves look like pot XD.

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Basically if you get stopped at customs and they give you any hassle, just tell them matter-of-factly that “its ok”, the folks at steepster said I could. If this doesn’t work (I don’t know how it couldn’t) then yell “look a bomb”, grab your tea and make a run for it. I’ll even come visit you in prison :).

XD. Oh god, do not encourage me. It’s already hard enough for me not to be a smartass when driving through. One of these days I am going to land in jail for making a joke when I shouldn’t.

You better come visit me.

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