Poisoning Myself at Tea Time

The past few weeks haven’t been so great for me. A few days in Mexico, coupled with a work trip and eating out too often was doing bad things to my belly and increasing my lethargy and fatigue. After trying to get back on track, I still wasn’t feeling quite as good as I was when I first cut gluten. It made me think that I was, in fact, glutening myself with something common in my diet that I didn’t realize contained gluten.

I’ve always been a tea drinker, but have gotten into a habit of morning coffee since I started working from home.  I decided to replace my morning coffee with tea to help shave off a few pounds (cutting that daily dose of cream has to do something, right?) and to have a gentler start to my day. I was still feeling sick, daily, which led me to a startling discovery!

Not all tea is gluten free! Some types of tea have barley malt ingredients (think the special holiday flavors or some vanilla flavored tea) or they’re processed in an un-safe facility. Some companies use an edible “glue” derived from gluteney ingredients to seal the tea bags. On my last trip to the grocery store I noticed all of these “gluten free” labels affixed to certain products on the shelves. Many of the tea boxes were labeled – but not all of them!

Never did I think that tea, of all things, wouldn’t be naturally gluten free, but as I’m learning, it often has as much to do with the processing as it does with the ingredients.

I decided to do some research on the brands in my cupboard. Here is what I found:

  • The Republic of Tea - The Honey Lemon Ginseng green tea is one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to trying some others. The entire line is certified gluten free.
  • Celestial Seasonings – Many of their teas are gluten free, but many are not! They label their packages, but are not officially certified. I love the Green Mandarin Orchid and Green Raspberry Gardens.
  • Mighty Leaf – This gives me a sad face. One of my favorite tea brands states clearly on their website that while their tea doesn’t contain gluten, their processing facility isn’t a-ok. Kudos, though, for telling us!
  • Twinings – Couldn’t find a thing on their site so I put in a note to their customer service team. They replied saying that they do not certify their teas as gluten free, but the plain green and black teas do not contain gluten.
  • Bigelow – States on their site that none of their teas contain gluten ingredients, doesn’t mention processing facility so I emailed them. They replied (quickly!) and said their processing facilities are free of gluten and they have discontinued three flavors that previously contained gluten ingredients.
  • Lipton – Their site says each product is labeled if it contains a gluten ingredient. Also makes mention that their bags are sealed either with a staple or heat/pressure – never gluten glue.
  • Stash – I wasn’t able to find any nutritional/allergy info on their site so I emailed them. They emailed back with a full list of their gluten free teas, which is pretty extensive. I’m happy to share if anyone is interested!
  • Tazo – Unknown due to a crazy loop through Starbuck’s customer service… I did find this post on Celiac.com that states that all Tazo flavors are gluten free except Green Ginger, Tazo Honeybush, Lemon Ginger and Tea Lemonade.
  • Tea Forte - This is one of my mom’s favorites, and according to their site, all of their flavors are gluten free.

Is there a product out there that you didn’t think had gluten in it? How did you find out?

I’ve cleared out my tea shelf to make room for some yummy new, gluten free, flavors to drink from my favorite K mug. K mug and I go waaay back.

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4 responses to “Poisoning Myself at Tea Time

  1. Pingback: Traveling Gluten Free | Gluten Free Glow·

  2. Oh, wow. This isn’t even something I would have thought about. I actually work at a tea company (loose leaf, though). I know all of our pure teas are gluten-free, and no gluten is added to our flavored teas — but because people source ingredients from various sources, it’s hard to know if it ever came in contact with gluten somewhere along the way…. so I tend to avoid those! Another good post!

    • Thanks! I was shocked to find it as well. Now that I know what kinds of teas I can have, I make sure to always have them with me when I travel or go out to eat. Crazy how hidden gluten can be in places you never thought to look!

  3. Pingback: 2012 Year in Review | Gluten Free Glow·

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