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Soy in tea!?!?!
Tea is supposed to be healthy, calming, and soothing… NOT TRIGGERING ALLERGIC REACTIONS! Why on earth would they put soy in tea?
What will they think of next? Hollow out an apple, fill it up with soy, and market it as the next, best, good for you, heart healthy, better than god created it, make you beautiful, stacked, brilliant, nobel prize winning, live forever, super fantastical soyapple?
Okay, okay, I’m being snarky about it. But, come on… soy in our tea???
I know I’ve gone on and on before about all the little nooks and crannies they like to hide soy, in my post There’s soy in that? Other names for soy and common hiding places. But, Tea is one of those places that you would never expect.
When I think of tea, I think of healthy herbs, roots, and berries, and crunchy, nature loving, hippy folks, sipping some Matcha out of a cute little bowl with a funny spoon, straw thingy. Not a vessel for more soy to be shoved down our throats!
Of course, we can certainly make our own tea blends with herbs, plants, roots, and berries, that we grow ourselves, wild craft, or obtain from reputable companies like Mountain Rose Herbs. In fact, I will be posting my own recipe for Lemon, Lavender, Mint tea really soon. However, this post is strictly referring to prepackaged tea.
Soy in tea-where is it hiding?
There are several different places that soy can be contaminating our tea cup.
- Soy lecithin: Some companies use soy lecithin as an emulsifier, stabilizer or dispersing aid. Some tea companies claim that soy lecithin is used to help disperse the herbs and create an even flavor profile throughout the whole cup.
- Soy in Tea bag or packaging materials: As soy is such an inexpensive, sustainable and widely promoted product, some companies have switched over to using soy in their packaging, whether in the tea bag itself or in the outer packaging
- Soy ink on the packaging: soy ink is used (especially by some of the more natural companies) as a “healthier” option for package labeling
- “Natural Flavors”-the dreaded so called “natural flavors”. Under the guise of not disclosing proprietary recipes, companies are allowed to list “natural flavors” rather than fully disclosing each ingredient. This leaves us in the allergic community at a loss. In general, when I see “natural flavors” I pass and move on to something else.
Tea Companies to consider
So, I decided to do some research and developed a list of a TON of different tea companies to see which teas are safe, and which ones require you to exercise caution. I started this research over a year ago for my own drinking pleasure.
Full disclosure here, I have not tried all of these tea companies. I prefer to only recommend products that I have used, tried, and loved. However, I want this post to be helpful, informational, and a super comprehensive guide to help you find safe companies to try. Different products are available in different parts of the world, so this list is by no means exhaustive but I did try to include large, national or easily accessible brands.
The information on this post is accurate as of the date of this posting and per the information provided by the manufacturer. I will update this post to include new brands and information as it becomes available. Please provide your feedback below so we can make this a great resource for everyone.
As usual, always read the labels! Companies change their products/ingredients all the time. Just because something was safe last time, doesn’t mean its still safe. ALWAYS read the labels!
In fact, as I was writing this post, I decided to do some fact checking with the companies that I had researched a long time ago. Low and behold, one of those companies has STARTED using soy in their products!!!! Let me tell you, I am seriously unhappy (read PISSED!!!!) about this!!!! Even if the particular variety I like doesn’t specifically contain soy, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t cross contamination issues to be concerned about! This just goes to show you, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS read the labels! (not yelling, just being emphatic) 🙂
What is my criteria for a “safe” tea company?
Well, no soy, of course. 😉
Seriously though, for me, cross contamination is a concern. I react to soybean oil, soy beans, and soy lecithin so I am just safer all around if I avoid even a hint of soy. With that thought in mind, I have only listed companies that claim to not use soy at all, as “safe”. This means soy in the tea itself, additives, tea bags, packaging and inks.
Liz’s Fave “safe” Tea’s
I have tried and enjoyed the tea’s from these companies with no problems.
Choice Organics – I ♥love♥ Choice Organics! Choice Organics is a local company (to me 😉 ), based out of Seattle, WA. They were the first exclusively organic tea company in the US! Choice Organics produces exclusively organic, Fair Trade Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified Teas. I like their Classic Black tea and English Breakfast tea. My husband actually noticed a difference when I made him a cup of Choice Organic black tea vs Lipton Black Tea. He prefer’s the Choice Organic! This is high praise indeed, as I didn’t tell him about the substitution! I also really like their Lemon, Lavendar, Mint Tea but have been having a hard time finding it locally lately, so I made up my own. I will write up this recipe and link it here soon. 🙂
Stash Tea Company – Stash Tea Company is another local company that was founded in Portland, OR in 1972. I love that they started out operating from an old Victorian-style house. If you are familiar with Portland at all, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Their organic Cascade Mint is a fabulous mint tea! My husbands favorite actually. Stash Tea has a huge variety of teas and they taste great!
Teeccino – Per email correspondence from the company, Teeccino does not use soy or dairy in any of their products. If you are a coffee drinker you haven’t tried Teeccino, I highly recommend giving it a try. With all of my medical issues, it is better if I try to limit coffee (which I LOVE!!!) so I have been trying to wean down my coffee consumption. I’m not going to say that Teeccino tastes exactly like coffee but it is reminiscent of coffee. Plus, the health benefits and fiber in Teeccino may be good for digestion and liver detoxification as well.
Traditional Medicinals – Per email correspondence from the company, Traditional Medicinals does not use any soy in the processing of their teas. Traditional Medicinal’s has a slew of different products. Lately, I have been drinking their Belly Comfort – Peppermint variety of tea. It’s really tasty and seems to really help my tummy settle down.
Other Safe Tea Companies
I have not tried the products from all of these companies, but either per their website, or personal correspondence with the companies, they should be considered safe (as of the time of this writing).
Twinings – Per the company website, all of their products are soy free. In one of my facebook groups, several people reported that they really like Twinings black tea or English Breakfast tea and have not had any problems with reactions. However, I have not tried it myself. **Note: their Chai Latte K-cup contains dairy if that is an issue for you.**
Yogi – Per the company website, all of their products are soy free. I have only tried one variety of Yogi tea and that blend was not my favorite (had a weird aftertaste). I can’t really say one way or the other what my opinion is of this manufacturer of tea without trying more varieties.
Rishi Tea – Per email correspondence from the company, all Rishi Tea products are soy free. I have not tried this brand yet. I would love to hear if any of you have tried Rishi and what your thoughts were.
Tea Companies that might be okay, but exercise caution.
These are tea companies that triggered my gut instincts. No, not an allergic reaction, but more my inner little voice that causes me to question the accuracy of the information being given. In this case, when a company just says something like:
The XYZ Tea Company labeling declares major allergens (peanuts, soybeans, soy, milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, and wheat) and we follow the U.S. FDA’s regulations. We recognize the serious nature of the allergen issue and we strive to minimize risk.
Both major and minor ingredients of all products, as well as all processing procedures and equipment, are closely scrutinized and all potential allergen issues as determined by the XYZ Tea Company are declared on our labeling. We recommend you refer to the packaging of the individual products for allergen information.
We assure you that strict manufacturing processes and procedures are in place and that all of our manufacturing facilities follow rigid allergen control programs that include staff training, segregation of allergen ingredients, production scheduling, and thorough cleaning and sanitation.
Okay, on the surface, that sounds great. I like that they list out their allergen precautions and segregation. But…. remember how we talked (in this post) about how highly refined soybean oil doesn’t have to be disclosed. What about ingredients that are derived from soy, like xanthan gum, or have a tiny amount of additive soy, like guar gum? So, frankly, when a company won’t actually answer the question and says just look at the box, it makes me a little nervous. Same goes for “natural flavors”. If I specifically ask you, what’s in your natural flavors and you say something like, well that’s proprietary. Well, that doesn’t answer the question of whether or not it contains soy, does it?
Anyway, its up to you and your sensitivity to soy, on whether or not this is a concern for YOU in your situation. For me, I will likely avoid and use one of the other safe brands.
Celestial Seasonings – Per email correspondence from the company, Hain Celestial or Celestial Seasonings clearly labels allergens per the FDA’s guidelines. So, check the packaging. Okay, so I have consumed Celestial tea’s before (prior to soy allergy). In fact, my husband still likes their True Blueberry and Peppermint teas, so we do have them in the house. That said, I have not been drinking them currently. Per their website, they removed soy lecithin from most of their products in 2015. However, they do still use some soy and refer to the packaging to confirm. Since I have other companies that I really enjoy, I am choosing not to use Celestial Seasonings personally.
Allegro Coffee – Per email correspondence from the company, Allegro also used the standard non-committal answer of “we follow the FDA’s labeling rules.” They are very willing to clarify ingredients in individual products so I wouldn’t write them off entirely. I would definitely contact them on an individual basis if you are interested in their products.
Tazo Tea – Per correspondence from the company, their dry tea products, bags, and packaging do not contain soy. They would not disclose about “natural flavors” siting they follow the labeling requirements of the Food and Drug Administration but said (No soy here, either). Their flavor information is proprietary and advised if I had a concern about an ingredient or flavor in the tea that I “may not wish to consume”, then they recommend not consuming that tea. Sorry to say but all the “legal-ease” did not answer my question nor inspire confidence that I would not have a reaction to their product. I would love to know if any soy allergy sufferers drink Tazo and what their reactions have been.
Tea Companies that use soy
If a company uses soy in any way, I have included them in this category.
Good Earth – Good Earth makes some really good tea! As mentioned above, they WERE on my fave list but in the last year they are now using soy in some of their products. I do really love the Sweet and Spicy tea. It has a natural sweetness to it that you don’t even need sweetener. At the time of this post, I am checking with them to see which lines of tea contain soy and if they are using shared facilities etc. I will update this post when the information is available.
Republic of Tea – Per email correspondence with the company, Republic of tea uses soy in their Get Probiotic line. They state that this tea is ran on a separate line and is segregated in all levels in their warehouse. I did like that they specified this. As it is only one product on a separate line, I will try their tea at some point. The Blackberry Sage or the Milk Oolong look interesting. 😉
Mighty Leaf – Per email correspondence with the company, Mighty Leaf Truffle Teas that contain dairy also contain soy. Specifically, this would be their Mayan Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Orange Truffle, Mocha Truffle Pu-erh and Pear Carmel Truffle. The rest of their products do not contain soy. They did not elaborate about facility allergen precautions, etc. **Note: contains dairy too for those that are avoiding dairy**
Bigelow Tea’s – So this one kinda bums me out. Do you remember the tea called “Constant Comment“? It has been around since 1945 when Ruth Campbell Bigelow created it. This is probably the first tea I remember as a child. Anyway, some of Bigelow’s teas do contain soy lecithin. If you choose to use Bigelow, please pay close attention to the labeling. Also, cross contamination may be an issue.
Lipton – Some of their teas contain soy. I recently purchased a box of good old black tea for my son (this is the brand of tea he prefers). Inside the box was an individual bag of tea as a sample. In big bold letters it said CONTAINS SOY, right across the top of the packaging. I must admit, I was impressed with their labeling. At least we know, and can avoid it. 😉
Soy in Tea – summary
If you skipped to the bottom, here’s the summary. Yes, there can be soy in tea!
Soy can be hiding in the tea bags, packaging, labeling, inks, as lecithin or in the natural flavors.
Always read labels, remember companies can and do change their ingredients and packaging at any time. Better to be safe than sorry.
I hope this post has been helpful! What tea’s do you like to drink? What other brands have you found that are safe/not safe? I would love feedback of the brands you like, especially the one’s that I haven’t tried yet. 🙂