Teas and herbal teas: pesticides, plastics, insects… What’s in our tea bags

Our tea bags hide unwanted substances. (©New Africa – stock.adobe.com)

Teas and herbal teas are becoming more and more popular, and not only among the English… or grandmothers! Everyone drinks. But the list unwanted substances found in no less than 48 references in sachets, it’s scary: glyphosate, thiacloprid, but also insects, plastic fragments or even rodent hair…

This is a magazine 60 million consumers who conducted the survey in its latest March 2022 issue, when “the craze for these drinks has gotten even stronger since confinement and the advent of remote work.”

To conduct this study, the association studied in the laboratory the composition 48 different tea bags and infusions. “We compared tea bag brands among the most widely consumed in supermarkets. And we were looking for more than 700 pesticides (among those allowed and not allowed in Europe) in their composition,” explains Patricia Chayropoulos, journalist 60 million consumersresponsible for the investigation contacted news.fr.

Why are there pesticides in our teas?

If we find these toxic substances in our hot drinks, it is, in particular, due to the systematic use of various fungicides as well as insecticides in tea cultures. “Camellia sinensis or the tea bush, grown mainly in India and China and to a lesser extent in Kenya and Sri Lanka, needs hot and humid climate for optimal growth. It is also a climate that quickly promotes the development of fungi and insects,” reads an article from 60 million consumers.

“Tea is more susceptible to pesticide contamination than herbal tea. As well as green tea even more so than black tea because it is a fresh plant, unlike Black tea which wanders for a long time, and which therefore undoubtedly allows better removal of harmful substances“, continues the journalist.

And since tea is not washed at any stage of its preparation, pesticides easily contaminate products.

Patricia ChayropoulosJournalist for 60 million consumers

Sixteen contaminants detected

Among the teas and herbal teas analyzed in the laboratory, sixteen pollutants, including fourteen proven pesticide residues, were found, says the journalist.

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“The worst thing we found seven pesticides among fourteen banned in Europe. True, they are just at the maximum limitbut we still found them, which is alarming: they must be more controls“, concludes Patricia Chayropoulos.

“Contaminated [aux pesticides] all regular black or green teas, ie. more than half of the analyzed samples, as well as most infusions are based on verbena. Only detox infusions help better, ”says an article in a consumer magazine.

The most affected brands: those that come from the most famous distributors. Twins, Lipton, lord nelson (Lidl) or Cotterley (Intermarché), pesticides are present, according to the magazine’s dossier. Conversely, organic teas and herbal teas do not contain pesticides.

Foreign bodies in herbal teas

Rodent hair, insects, plastic residue… These elements are found more in herbal teas, which have less pesticide residue.

“Reason: The herbal tea market is dominated by organic, with the advent of detox, natural products… Therefore, we do not find pesticides in organic herbal teas. Plants are imported from less distant regions (France, European Union, North Africa, etc.): we have better traceability,” explains Patricia Chayropoulos.

But the other side of the coin when you eat organic is that it’s easier for you to find foreign bodies. “We find them in small quantities and are not dangerous to the consumer, with the exception of plastic residues, ”the journalist notes.

Organic Ranges

But in order to avoid the detection of unwanted substances in your favorite hot drinks as much as possible, it is best to go organic. “You have to agree to pay a little more, and you don’t have to buy the usual brands. »

French tea and herbal tea brand Les 2 Marmottes has captured this quality requirement. The company sells tea but relies heavily on its herbal teas, made from natural plants harvested in France, “no added flavors,” proudly adds Richard Morenville, quality manager for a small and medium-sized business in Haute-Savoie.

The company switched to 50% of the herbal tea range is organic.and 100% of his teas, with very strict controls.

Multiple analyzes and controls

And the process is well established.

We transform over 400 tons of plants per year: to ensure the reliability of our products, we carry out numerous laboratory tests and checks to ensure the nature of the products.

Richard Morainville Les 2 Marmottes Quality Manager

“When we buy plants, we test the sample according to color, infusion, taste, odor criteria… If the plants pass these stages, they are analyzed in the laboratory to accurately check the pesticide content. There are really double locks,” continues the quality manager.

The Les 2 Marmottes brand was not affected by the contaminants found on the tested products. With the exception of herbal teas with verbena.

“From insect fragments have been discovered. We did a counter analysis, but did not find anything problematic. It’s not very shocking to find this substance, and since it’s just tiny particles in tea bags, the consumer doesn’t risk ingesting it. And so we do not withdraw the product from the market. »

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