Is This Surprise Ingredient In Your Favorite Tea?

Herbs and flowers. Juices and berries. You may think you’re drinking the best nature has to offer when you sit down with a hot cup of tea, but now you need to think twice. Surprisingly, many popular tea blends and brands contain an unlikely ingredient: SOY.

Before you put your pinky in the air and drink up, here’s what you need to know about the soy creeping and steeping in your tea.

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Soy Lecithin

The soy used in many teas is soy lecithin, a byproduct of the soy plant. Soy lecithin is one of the top 10 most used ingredients in processed foods. According to the FAQs found on the website for Stash tea, “Soy lecithin is used in foods and beverages as an emulsifier, a stabilizer, a dispersing aid or other similar uses.”

Basically, soy lecithin is used to hold foods together, keeping the flavors from separating (like with a chocolate bar). Hain Celestial, the makers of Celestial Seasonings brand tea states that, “The soy lecithin in our tea keeps the ingredients smoothly blended together and prevents clumping.”

Soy lecithin is consumed on a regular basis if you read the ingredients label of most packaged and processed foods, so the soy found in tea may not cause much of a “stir” for the average person. However, even small amounts of soy can be problematic if you have a severe soy allergy or are avoiding soy for other health reasons.

In her book, The Beauty Detox, nutritionist Kimberly Snyder cites that a majority of soy is genetically modified (GMOs) and heavily contaminated with toxic pesticides. Snyder also writes that soy is filled with phytoestrogens, substances that mimic estrogen in the body and may cause hormonal imbalances.

You Don’t Have to Give Up Tea

If you have a severe soy allergy or want to avoid soy for other reasons, soy-free teas DO exist. As a good rule, choose brands that state they are organic and non-GMO certified (e.g., Numi, Traditional Medicinals, Rishi Tea).