Tea time: Make your own tea to avoid chemicals found in tea bags

While it may be convenient to buy commercial tea from the grocery store, there are many reasons why making tea at home is healthier. (Leanne Harloff/Emerald)

During these chilly winter months, it is always comforting to have a hot cup of tea in your hand. Whether you’re facing early midterm studying, freezing cold mornings or simply the need for more water, tea is a drink that students can count on to help them out. Luckily there are plenty of teahouses in Eugene.

Because of its low calorie count and calming effects, tea is often regarded as one of the healthier drink choices for students, as opposed to sugary coffee concoctions. But what many people don’t realize is that even tea can have its downfalls when bought from a commercial source. 

One such issue is the pesticides present in tea bags. A 2014 study conducted in Canada found that “tea is the world’s most popular beverage,” yet the results proved that “eight of the 10 brands tested contained multiple chemicals, with one brand containing residues of 22 different pesticides.”

When mixed with hot water, these pesticides quickly slip out of the tea bags and into your soothing drink. It turns out that tea isn’t so healthy after all when laced with harmful pesticides.

Another seemingly unmentioned problem with commercial teas is that many of the tea bags, particularly those titled as mesh or silky, contain plastic coatings, which have the capability of leaching toxins into your hot water. While many of us know that it is not a good idea to drink water from a plastic bottle left in the sun, we don’t always think about the other places where plastic is infiltrating our drinks.

In 2013, The Atlantic addressed this concern and found that while the toxin levels are generally low, plastic from tea bags can indeed be harmful for humans. For those who make multiple cups of tea with a single tea bag, this is even more of a worry because the bags are more likely to break down with repeated use.

Even the use of the less-fancy, paper tea bags comes with concerns. Paper tea bags have been found to contain epichlorohydrin, a substance linked with multiple negative health effects, including cancer and infertility.

While buying loose leaf tea is one way to avoid the bag problems all together, you still cannot be sure that the tea is free of pesticides, artificial flavoring or coloring.

It all boils down to this: The only way to ensure that your tea does not have pesticides or plastic leaching out toxins, is to make your own. Luckily, this is not as difficult as it may seem.

In order to make your own tea, first you will want to buy a metal tea ball, which can be found on Amazon.com for about $6. Then you will choose your ingredients, which can range from peppermint, to lavender and cinnamon, to licorice root and many, many more. These ingredients can be bought from grocery stores, tea shops or online depending on how much you want to buy and how quickly you want it.

Next, add your chosen ingredients to the metal tea ball, let it steep in hot water and enjoy your homemade, chemical-free cup of tea. These cold winter months are the best time to perfect your tea recipe and impress your friends with your own personalized tea creation.

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