Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. People drink it help them wake up in the morning, warm them up during the day, and even before bed to help them sleep at night. Typically, all you ever hear about are the many health benefits of tea – but it may not be as healthy as you think. Many brands contain high levels of pesticides, which can cause a variety of problems for your body, including gut issues and increased risk of cancer.

Top Brands With Pesticides in their Tea

Who doesn’t love a nice, warming cup of tea sometimes? For those who are regular tea drinkers, however, a word of caution: Your favorite tea brands might just be full of pesticides. In 2014, an investigative report found that these popular tea brands contained high levels of pesticides: Tetley, Lipton, Twinings, Celestial Seasonings, Red Rose, and Tazo. (1)

With each of these brands, nearly half of their tea line-up contained high levels of at least one pesticide, if not multiples. Some teas even contained up to 22 different chemical pesticides. What’s worse, some of those pesticides are currently in the process of being banned because of the danger they pose to both the environment and workers. Studies have found that this includes if the tea leaves are both fresh and dried. (2)

“The pesticide residues were likely transferred from tea leaves to brewed tea during the brewing process, and may therefore pose a risk to consumers,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Still Allowed For Consumption

Despite these products containing levels of pesticides far higher than FDA allowable limits, they are still consumed by hundreds of thousands (if not more) every single day. What’s more, the FDA isn’t currently doing anything about it. The agency has yet to issue any recalls for these tainted products, or even issue a warning to consumers about them. Instead, they are simply allowing companies to remove the pesticides from their products at their own discretion.

This is a disturbing trend that many people are concerned about. The FDA has been accused of not doing enough to protect consumers from dangerous food products, as well as approving harmful additives in foods without proper testing and scientific evaluation.

So What Can You Do?

As the consumer, this is likely quite disheartening for you. After all, you think are making a healthy choice when you choose tea. The most important thing you can do is do your best to avoid these brands. Instead, look for certified organic brands and even research them to be certain of their efficacy.

If you’re looking for an alternative to these brands that contains less pesticides and other harmful chemicals, try Numi Organic Tea or Rishi Tea instead. Both are USDA certified organic and contain no artificial additives or preservatives like many other brands do (which means they’ll taste great too!). Traditional Medicinals also makes some tasty organic teas that won’t compromise your health. Other options include:

  • Mighty Leaf Tea
  • Choice Organic Teas
  • Yogi Tea
  • David’s Tea
  • Pukka Herbs
  • The Republic of Tea

The Effect of Pesticides On Your Health

As you can imagine, pesticides can have a pretty detrimental impact on your health. They’re designed to kill harmful organisms, but they also have a tendency to affect humans and animals as well. Many pesticides are toxic and can cause problems like headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and respiratory issues. They can also cause cancer in the long term if you’re exposed daily over many years (although this isn’t always the case). What’s worse is that many pesticides have been linked to long-term health problems like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some research has even linked pesticide exposure to birth defects, ADHD and autism in children. (3)

Again, the best thing you can do is do your best to avoid them. Buy organic whenever possible, including when selecting which tea to buy. This is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to become so.


  1. Pesticide traces in some tea exceed allowable limits.” CBC. Megan Griffith-Greene. March 8, 2014.
  2. Accumulation of Heavy Metals in Tea Leaves and Potential Health Risk Assessment: A Case Study from Puan County, Guizhou Province, China.” NCBI. Jian Zhang, et al. January 2018.
  3. Human Health Issues Related to Pesticides.” EPA

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