Before I knew I was having an immune reaction to genetically modified wheat, I didn’t understand why I’d feel unwell after drinking some teas. One cup could make me feel bloated, exhausted, irritable and sick to my stomach. When I took my label reading to the next level, I realized that grains were listed in the ingredients of many popular teas. Something I never paid attention to before.
To help heal my immune system, I’ve gone Paleo. Grains, bye-bye. I also want to protect myself from drinking chemicals, like pesticides, that can burden my immunity.
If you’re a tea lover like me, here’s a simple guide to navigate your choices and help you avoid getting a dose of GMO, and stick to your Paleo lifestyle.
1. Always read the ingredients. If you see barley malt, chicory root, maltodextrin, soy or “natural flavors” listed, steer clear. I also avoid any tea that has added stevia. I know some people celebrate this sweetener, but in my experience it feeds bad bacteria way worse than other natural sugars. Simple, organic and pure honey works best for me. I also like buying my honey local. But everyone is different so trust your own body. It will tell you. I’ve found Yogi Teas to add grains and stevia to many of their products, so I’ve stopped drinking them.
2. Herbal is usually safer. I’ve noticed that choosing peppermint or chamomile are usually safe bets since the ingredients tend to be limited to just the herb. The mixed herbal products are more likely to add fillers and artificial flavoring, so you may want to double check the labels on those.
3. Higher quality teas usually have less fillers and no grains because they’re using great tasting tea to begin with. I like Red Rose. They label their teas gluten-free. The trendier, more creative or fancier the tea tries to be, I find they more often use some kind of filler or sweetener. I find it better to buy a gluten-free tea like Red Rose, then add my own spices for more flavoring. If you make your own flavored tea at home, you can avoid cheap fillers like barley, corn or sugar. Please note, higher quality tea doesn’t always mean more expensive. It’s all about how it’s processed and the quality of the tea leaves.
4. Buy organic. When you buy organic, you will avoid harmful pesticides and chemicals. Buying organic doesn’t mean the ingredients used aren’t genetically modified in some way, however. If you read Wheat Belly, you’ll learn today’s grains are all genetically modified which is why so many immune systems are rebelling. Labels that state gluten-free, organic and GMO-free are ideal. Fair-trade adds an additional feel-good perk.
5. Know your brands, and keep them on hand. In my research, I’ve found the safest, purest tea brands right now are Traditional Medicinals, Rishi and Numi. I bring tea bags with me when I travel, go to restaurants and people’s homes.
I avoid the following teas because of pesticides, chemicals and/or GMO’s: Lipton, Celestial Seasonings, Tazo, Twinings, Mighty Leaf, Trader Joe’s, Tetley and Republic of Tea. Even if soy, corn or grains aren’t listed in the ingredients, many tea bags are made from GMO corn and sometimes gluten is in the glue that holds the bags together. So if your body reacts and you’re not sure why, remember you’re not crazy. Most likely, there’s something in the tea triggering your immune system.
Tea Lover Fun
If you’re like my aunt and me and like to organize your teas and have a cozy display for guests, here are some of our favs: My aunt has the YouCopia TeaStand, she loves it! I have a wood box similar to this one that I love. Bamboo tea boxes are wonderfully earthy and natural, adding to a spa-feel at home. My favorite teapot is the Brown Betty. I’ve had mine for almost ten years, brews a great cup of tea. I cover it with a tea cozy and it keeps the tea hot for hours.