Beware of undisclosed ingredients in packaged teas in all grocery stores. A recent DNA study found 1/3 of herbal teas contain items not listed on labels. Healthy Solution: Forget boxed teas and tea bags. Use bulk teas with a tea ball like your grandma. Create your own combinations and save money! US law allows any item less than 0.5 grams per serving to be omitted from the label. So a tea bag weighing 1 grams may declare only a fraction of the true ingredients! Many teas contain pharmacologically active compounds, so their effects may be toxic or therapeutic. Fatalities and serious illnesses have occurred after drinking teas, caused by labeling errors or allergic reactions.
This study by the Urban Barcode Project indicated that 1/3 of the herbal teas contained DNA from plants not listed on labels. The team studied 70 teas including 60 herbal varieties. The teas tested came from 33 companies and originated in 17 countries.
The researchers found that four percent of the straight teas contained additional plant material. And more than a third of the herbal products included unlisted ingredients – such as the weeds bluegrass and white goosefoot. Four of the herbal mixes contained relatives of parsley. And seven had unlisted chamomile.
The Urban Barcode Project is a science competition in New York City. A DNA barcode is a DNA sequence that uniquely identifies each species of living thing. In the Urban Barcode Project, student research teams use DNA barcoding to explore biodiversity in New York City. TeaBOL is a DNA barcoding project undertaken by students at the Trinity School.