If you’re drinking green tea hoping to increase your antioxidant levels, you should know that some green tea brands contain very little antioxidants.
In analysis of the strength and purity of more than 20 green tea products by ConsumerLab.com found that EGCG levels in bottled green tea can range from just four milligrams (mg) per cup to 47 mg, while brewable green tea (from tea bags, loose tea or a K-cup) contained levels ranging from 25 mg to 86 mg per serving.
One variety, bottled Diet Snapple Green Tea, reportedly contained almost no EGCG, while Honest Tea Green Tea with Honey contained only about 60 percent of the 190 mg of catechins claimed on the label.11Green tea brewed from loose tea leaves appeared to offer the most potent source of antioxidants like EGCG.
One variety, Teavana, contained 250 mg of catechins per serving; green tea sold in bags from brands like Lipton and Bigelow contained lower levels, although represented a more cost-effective alternative. The different tea brands also varied significantly in the amount of caffeine the products contained. While some contained virtually none, others contained 86 mg per serving, which is similar to the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee.
You Need to Be Careful About Pollutants in Green Tea
Similar to the problem with seafood (where the beneficial nutrients are all but cancelled out due to high levels of pollution), tea may also contain an inordinate amount of toxicants. Green tea plants are known to be especially effective at absorbing lead from the soil, which is then taken up into the plant’s leaves.
Areas with excessive industrial pollution, such as China (where nearly most of the world’s green tea is produced),12 may therefore contain substantial amounts of lead.13
According to the ConsumerLab.com analysis, tea from brands like Lipton and Bigelow contained up to 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving compared to no measurable amounts in Teavana brand, which gets its tea leaves from Japan.
While the lead in the tea leaves is not thought to leach very effectively into the tea you end up drinking, if you’re consuming green tea, one of my favorites, it’s especially important that it comes from Japan instead of China.
You just need to be sure that the radiation levels of the product are checked.That said, because you’re consuming the entire leaf, you want to be sure it comes from a non-polluted, high-quality source. The best green tea comes from Japan and is steamed, rather than roasted or pan-fried. As a result, the green tea retains all the nutrient-rich value possible from the tea leaf, without additives or contaminants.
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Both black and green teas are naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides. This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil.According to fluoride expert Jeff Green, there are reports of people who have developed crippling skeletal fluorosis from drinking high amounts of iced tea alone.14
If you live in an area with fluoridated drinking water, as the majority of Americans do, then you could be getting a double dose of fluoride when you drink tea. When selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment because, as mentioned, tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea.
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