The Problem With Natural Flavoring in Teas
Tea may be the most consumed beverage on the planet, but choosing the right tea—in the U.S., at least—can be riddled with inconsistencies and deceptive marketing if you don't appropriately inspect a tea label.
First of all, it's important to acknowledge that people drink tea for different reasons. Some seek out traditional and herbal teas for the herbal benefits while others enjoy the soothing practice of drinking tea. Some enjoy a little bit of both.
When at the grocery store, the quality tea selection is often dismally slim. Most of the options are lower quality and bagged. The other challenge is that many teas are marketed as health options with gorgeous herbal illustrations on the packaging, alluding the consumer to think they are getting the well-known health benefits that come with those herbs (e.g. an image of echinacea for wellness tea). All one has to do is flip the box to the back and a scan of ingredients will tout some form of 'natural' or 'artificial' flavoring.
What is Natural Flavoring?
According to the FDA, the term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.'
Sure the tea can be 'safe', which the FDA assures us it is, but if we are drinking tea for herbal or botanical benefits then flavoring won't help us get there. Besides, is it really enough to know that a food or drink is simply safe? The substances that go into our bodies are what feeds every single cell in our body and is one of the largest wellness-determining factors in our lives. Wouldn't you prefer to choose options that go beyond safe and offer nourishment, healing and nutrition?
If you are choosing organic produce options and investing in water purifying filters, you should use the same discernment with your tea options. Choose brands you trust and optimize the health benefits with whole ingredients that are free from flavorings, colorings and preservatives.