I love a good cup of tea. I think I got into it when I was pregnant and couldn’t have as much caffeine. The warm feel of a cup of tea can be just as wonderful as coffee.
I’m not alone in thinking this. In fact, tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet (water is number one).
I already try to drink organic and fair trade coffee (and I have some favorites), but lately I’ve been wondering what the best organic tea brands are.
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Why Should You Drink Organic Tea?
We’ve all heard that tea can be very good for your health. It contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee (so a couple of cups likely won’t make you jittery), and some research has even linked it to lower rates of breast cancer and heart disease. (You can read the American Heart Association’s latest research on tea here.)
But why should you drink organic tea, specifically, instead of conventional tea?
Pesticides in Tea
Over the last 10 years or so, researchers have performed a variety of studies on pesticide usage in tea and whether or not it affects our health. I wasn’t able to find any studies more recent than this one that took place in 2015, but it found 10 conventional tea brands with higher-than-usual percentages of pesticide residue. I am unsure whether those brands have made any changes to the way they produce their tea.
What is Organic Tea, and Why Should You Drink It?
Organic tea is healthier for you. Organic tea is largely grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers that can get into your body and cause adverse health effects.
Organic tea is healthier for the environment. Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can harm the planet in a multitude of ways. Synthetic fertilizers pollute our waterways, which can ultimately build up and create a dam blocking the flow and can also harm aquatic life. Pesticides, which farmers use to kill insects or weeds, are also toxic to wildlife like birds, fish, and beneficial insects, according to a 2009 study.
What About “Natural” Tea?
On tea, unfortunately, the word “natural” means absolutely nothing. The FDA does not regulate the use of the word “natural” at all (though they plan to come up with home regulations in the near future), and the USDA only regulates the word “natural” on meat, poultry, and eggs.
With that in mind, you should ignore labels that claim “all natural” ingredients and “natural flavors.”
What’s Fair Trade?
Millions of people find work in the tea industry. However, some of their working conditions leave much to be desired.
Fair Trade certified products come from brands that offer a safer working environment, better pay, and gender-equality and also help protect human rights.
Purchasing Fair Trade certified tea helps improve lives across the world.
Ok. Organic Tea Sounds Great, but Isn’t it Way More Expensive?
You may think so, and it definitely can be, but there are plenty of lower-priced organic tea brands. See the list below and click the links to get prices. Most are just a few dollars more than conventional tea ounce-per-ounce.
What to Look for When Buying Organic Tea
Should You Buy Organic Loose Leaf Tea or Tea Bags?
Some brands make their tea bags from synthetic fibers, plastic, and bleached paper. When you heat those bags up in a pot of boiling water, chemicals from those fibers can leak out and then get into our bodies.
This is why I believe it’s best to brew loose-leaf tea when possible.
Look for the USDA Certified Organic Label
Make sure your tea has a USDA certified organic label on it. “[USDA] Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic.” The USDA prohibits use of most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for three years in order to get the Certified Organic label.
Search the Brand on the EWG‘s Website
Similar to the EWG’s skin deep database, which I’ve talked about quite a bit, they also have a food database. You can search for a specific product here, and they produce a score from 1 to 10 based on nutrition, ingredient, and processing concerns.
Try not to Buy Tea From China or India
Previous tests on Chinese and Indian tea imports have shown pesticide residues much higher than the World Health Organization’s limits. That being said, in 2015 China planned to reduce their use of pesticides by 20% by 2020 and reduce non-organic fertilizers by 50%.
The Best Organic Tea Brands
The Best Organic Green Tea
Numi makes a variety of different teas, but this organic green tea is my favorite. It’s USDA certified organic, and it’s also Fair Trade Certified. It’s great to drink, and they also have some recipes for DIY beauty (like a green tea mask).
The Best Organic Black Tea
It is extremely difficult to find black tea that is grown outside India. This one is grown there, but it’s certified organic and fair trade. It only comes in a 1-lb bag, but organic black tea should last about a year when stored properly.
The Best Organic Matcha
This brand sources their Matcha directly from Japan (where Matcha originated). They even offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you are unhappy with it. Please be aware that this Matcha is not ceremonial-grade. It’s meant to be mixed into other recipes (like smoothies and lattes). If you want to drink Matcha on its own (simply mixed into water), here is a great brand. It’s more expensive per-ounce than the Jade Leaf Matcha, but that’s to be expected from ceremonial matcha.
The Best Organic Tea for Tea Newbies
This selection of tea contains 15 sample packs of assorted teas. You can choose from assorted green teas, black teas, herbal teas, or all three. They also have a pack of dessert teas, which are great when you’re really craving something sweet.
Are you a tea drinker? What are the best organic tea brands in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below, and if you tried any of my recommendations above, be sure to tell me what you think about them!
If you prefer coffee, but like a lower caffeine content, check out our favorite decaf coffee brands too.