I just got a call today from someone who watches international news on cable, specifically CNTV, that Chinese tea growers were having pressure put on them for using harmful pesticides on their tea crop, specifically Oolong.
Panicking because I do drink green tea quite regularly, especially in the summer with ice and in the winter to drink hot fluids if I don’t want to drink milk in coffee or black tea.
I quickly checked the green tea I had on hand and it turns out I have been having either a loose leaf Japanese green tea, pre-Fukushima (bought in 2007) and more recently some green tea that was bought at a Big Lots in metro Atlanta called “Prince of Peace,” which claims to be “100% natural.” But does “natural” mean organic and not laden with pesticides?
As it turns out, sites such as Vitacost claim the tea to be organic and back up the claim by the Prince of Peace tea company that it is “100% natural.” And that alone is extremely reassuring and I’m still crossing my fingers that it’s all true because drinking green tea with pesticides is worse than not drinking the supposed “healthful” green tea at all!
The tainted green tea has shown up in lab tests by the Japanese to contain DEHP, which the Chinese say causes cancer, backed up by the US Centers of Disease Control that has issued a statement saying that DEHP is “anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
The European Union has also put stricter control measures in place on tea imports from China, allowing the tea to enter Europe via specified ports and most brilliantly to do random sampling on about 10 percent of teas to test them for pesticide residue and other harmful substances.
Since the media exposure to China’s problems with exporting contaminated food products, the Chinese government has passed laws to clean up their act and stop using banned harmful pesticides on their tea crops.
As far as taste goes, I prefer drinking black tea, usually with milk and often with mint added (don’t knock it till you try it!) so recently I’ve taken to taking my green tea with about a teaspoon of dried mint in it – it makes a big difference and makes the green tea taste fresher. Cardamom is also another great option.
I also use Stevia as a sweetener and sometimes honey – using sugar makes me feel rather guilty as though I might be negating any health benefits from consuming the green tea.
But one thing is for certain, if people stop buying Chinese tea and other foodstuffs, China will be forced to be more health conscious!
Sipping some Prince of Peace green tea with spearmint as I write this article I pray that China’s tea growers stop the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals in the production of their teas.