That Green Tea Drink May Not Be As Healthy As You Think

Is green tea as healthy as its reputation suggests? That depends on who makes it and where it comes from, a new study says.

Bottled green tea may be little more than green sugar water, while some green tea leaves, most likely from China, were found to contain lead.

Fortunately, it stayed on the leaves: Very little lead found its way into the final product, according to ConsumerLab.com researchers. “It’s fine as long as you’re not eating the leaves,” ConsumerLab.com president Dr. Tod Cooperman told The New York Times.

ConsumerLabs.com looked at four brands of green tea beverages sold in stores. Diet Snapple Green Tea was found to have almost none of the healthy antioxidants in more natural forms of the tea, despite claiming to be made from “the best stuff on Earth” and listing among its ingredients both “green tea” and “green tea concentrate.”

Honest Tea’s Green Tea With Honey claimed to have 190 milligrams of a certain kind of antioxidant, but ConsumerLab.com found only about 60 percent as much. A bottle also had half as much sugar as a can of Sprite and two-thirds of the caffeine in a cup of coffee, the Times says.

ConsumerLabs.com also looked at tea bags and loose tea leaf products. It founded that Teavana’s Gyokuro green tea has lots of antioxidants. But it’s pricey, costing $2.18 to get the same amount of a certain antioxidant that can be had for anywhere from 27 to 60 cents with Lipton and Bigelow tea bags, according to the Times.

The Teavana leaves had no measurable amounts of lead, but the leaves in the Lipton and Bigelow tea bags contained as much as 2.5 micrograms per serving. The leaves are believed to come from China, where industrial pollution creates a lead problem, the Times said. ConsumerLabs.com found that the bags functioned as a filter, and the lead did not leach into the tea.

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