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Green and black tea - healthy or not?

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Green and black tea are full of anti-oxidants and polyphenols which are good for us, but they also contain very high amounts of toxic fluoride.

Okay, enough is enough. Over the last few years, I've said that we shouldn't eat sugar, baked goods and pasta, omega 6 vegetable oils, boxed cereals and crackers, store-bought salad dressings, processed foods, soy, low-fat or no-fat milk, (pasteurized dairy or pasteurized anything including fruit juice for that matter), grain-fed factory-farmed meat, poultry and eggs, and well, I can handle that most of the time. But tea??? I love my cup of tea. Is NOTHING sacred? Heavy sigh. Tea leaves seem to accumulate more fluoride from the soil and from the air than any other plant that we eat, and because pollution has increased over the last decades, fluoride in tea is increasing as well.

Green tea in particular is heavily promoted as being a very healthy beverage because of the anti-oxidants it contains. But it turns out that the fluoride levels in tea are higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for fluoride in drinking water, which is 1mg/L. Double-blind studies exist proving the adverse health affects of fluoride at the level of 1ppm in water, and there are no studies documenting safety of ingesting fluoride at any level. No studies seem to exist investigating the effects of fluorides on the anti-oxidants in green tea, although other studies involving antioxidants show that they are adversely affected by fluoride. A 6oz cup of green or black tea seems to contain between 1.3 and 7.8mg/L of fluoride, so possibly about 8 times the suggested safe dose, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that has more than one cup of tea per day.

Fluoride may be a big culprit in hypothyroid (sluggish thyroid), as fluoride has a bigger affinity to the iodine receptor than iodine does, and the thyroid needs iodine to function properly. Fluoride was in fact used in several countries to treat an overactive thyroid because it was so good at reducing thyroid function. With so many people suffering from problems of hypothyroid, many being undiagnosed, one can wonder how much of the problem can be related to tea and fluoridated water consumption. Fluoride's affect on the thyroid go way beyond blocking iodine, and are far too numerous to account for here. If dental fluorosis is present, hypothyroid is a given. Yikes! This is serious stuff!!

Dean Burk, who was Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute for several decades, said that "no chemical causes as much cancer, and faster, than fluorides", and fluoride is particularly problematic in uterine and bone cancers. Fluoride also tends to soften bones and make them brittle, playing a role in osteoporosis. Dental fluorosis or a mottling of the teeth is the first obvious sign of fluoride poisoning, and if there is dental fluorosis, there are hypothyroid problems, and probably skeletal fluorosis as well. Tea also frequently contains aluminum, and fluoride and aluminum together are even more problematic, creating renal and neurological problems, including possibly Alzheimers (aluminum fluoride which turns into aluminum oxide).

Chinese teas seem to have more fluoride in them than Indian, oolong and Ceylon teas, decaf teas have much higher levels of fluoride than caffeinated teas, and instant teas are full of fluoride too. Black teas have more fluoride than green, and longer brewing times increase the fluoride content. The higher the grade of tea, the less the fluoride, so in other words the expensive stuff really is better. In fact one study suggested that measuring fluoride content would be a good way to evaluate the quality of the tea. But even high quality tea has a fair bit of fluoride in it, so what are tea lovers to do?? Body Ecology makes black and green tea extracts that are fluoride and caffeine free. I guess that's where I'll be getting my tea from now on ... If you want more detailed information on this topic, I highly recommend this article by Andreas Schulds on Dr. Mercola's website. The book The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson is also a good read.

I want to thank Sue Bond, who helped me considerably with the research for this post.

Related posts
Fluoridated water - boon or bane?
Choosing a water filtration system
Our toxic body burden
Thyroid function and dysfunction
The three keys to preventing osteoporosis

Malinowska E et al. Assessment of fluoride concentration and daily intake by human from tea and herbal infusions. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Mar; 46(3): 1055-61. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

Cao J et al. Fluoride levels in various black tea commodities: measurement and safety evaluation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Jul;44(7):1131-7. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Lu Y et al. Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality. J. Agric Food Chem. 2004 July 14; 52(14): 4472-6.

Whyte MP et al. Skeletal Fluorosis from instant tea.J Bone Miner Res.2008 Jan 7 [Epub ahead of print

Hayem G, Ballard M, Palazzo E, Somogyi N, Roux F, Meyer O. Insufficiency bone fractures due to fluorosis in heavy tea drinkers. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 63(Suppl 1): 488, 2004

Shu WS et al. Fluoride and aluminium concentrations of tea plants and tea products from Sichuan Province, PR China. Chemosphere 2003 Sep; 52(9): 1475-82.

Cao J et al. Brick tea fluoride as a main source of adult fluorosis. Food Chem Toxicol. 2003 Apr;41(4):535-42.

Anuradha CD, Kanno S, Hirano S. Fluoride induces apoptosis by caspase-3 activation in human leukemia HL-60 cells. Arch Toxicol 2000 Jul;74(4-5):226-30

NTEU - "Why EPA's Headquarters Union of Scientists Opposes Fluoridation" Prepared on behalf of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280 by Chapter Senior Vice-President J. William Hirzy, Ph.D.

Zhao, L.B., Liang, G.H., Zhang, D.N., and Wu, X.R. - "Effect of high fluoride water supply on children's intelligence" Fluoride 29; 190-192 1996

Chan J.T.; Koh, S.H. -"Fluoride content in caffeinated, decaffeinated and herbal teas" Caries Res 30(1):88-92 (1996)

Tohyama, E. et al. "Relationship between fluoride concentration in drinking water mortality rate from uterine cancer in Okinawa prefecture" Japan. J Epidemiol (CL8); 6 (4): 184-91 1996

Gulati P et al. "Studies on the leaching of fluoride in tea infusions" Sci Total Environ. 138(1-3):213-21 1993

Opinya GN et al. "Intake of fluoride and excretion in mothers' milk in a high fluoride (9ppm) area in Kenya" Eur J Clin Nutr 45(1):37-41 (1991)

Wei, S.H.; Hattab, F.N., Mellberg, J.R. - "Concentration of fluoride and selected other elements in teas" Nutrition 5(4):237-40 (1989)

Sergio Gomez S, Weber A, Torres C - "Fluoride content of tea and amount ingested by children" Odontol Chil 37(2):251-5 1989

C.A. Jones, et al.Sodium Fluoride Promotes Morphological Transformation of Syrian Hamster Embryo Cells, Carcinogenesis Volume 9, pp.2279-2284 (1988)

Copyright 2008 Vreni Gurd

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Comments (12)

Submitted by Marc on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 11:40am.

Now I know for sure.  Some how, some way, without my knowing it, I've been transported to a parallel universe.


Living with MCL

Submitted by Vreni Gurd on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 7:29pm.

I'm truly in mourning about this tea thing. Tea and chocolate, my big health sins. Don't think I'm willing to give up either ...

If I remember right, decaf has more caffeine because of the process to remove the caffeine, although i can't remember what it is. Something to do with the water?? And of course many municipalities fluoridate their water, so people make tea with fluoridated water adding to the impact. So sad :(

Vreni Gurd

Health and Vitality Coach

Submitted by Lucy PA (not verified) on Sun, 04/20/2008 - 9:14pm.

I've recently began to follow a diet like the one you have advocated and I finally kicked one of my last bad habits, or so I thought. I just switched from drinking coffee to tea. I decided to make the switch because of all the sugar (or sugar alcohol like Splenda) and dairy that I was getting from my daily Starbuck's cappuccino. Now it seems tea isn't a safe alternative either. Time to start drinking my coffee black now I guess...

Submitted by Rick Suddes (not verified) on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 7:40pm.

Oolong Tea From Mae Salong, Thailand

Each bag contains 70 grams of tea.
The price is $8.50 per bag.
There is a 2 bag minimum per order.

The following is a translation from Thai to English of the text on the packaging.
NOTE: We do not endorse these claims. We are just providing the translation.


" Naulsri "

excellent taste, sweet smell, delicious, fresh
from Mae Salong, Thailand

benefits of product

  1. To help make body stronger and freshness
  2. To reduce fat
  3. To treat chronic bacteria in the stomach
  4. To lower cholesterol
  5. To prevent cancer
  6. To reduce arteriosclerosis
  7. To protect and reduce weight gain
  8. To slow aging and to make good skin complexion

Submitted by Eduardo V (not verified) on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 5:02am.

I ve been drinking green tea for a long time and i gotta say this is my favorite brand: i found it at a womens expo and the flavor is very rich.



#6: tea
Submitted by Diane (not verified) on Sat, 02/28/2009 - 8:46am.

Strange to see all the tea adds with this article.  Very interesting and disappointing.  I love tea and now it seems that that too must be given up.  

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 5:12am.

For fuck sake people, you're going to die eventually. If you ENJOY tea, drink it. It may eventually kill you, but you've got to die sometime. And, really, how important are you? Enjoy your life. I'm not giving up tea just because it may kill me. I'd personally rather die doing the things, eating, drinking, breathing the things I enjoy than hold off on all of it to live an extra few years. I'm almost sorry I came upon this article.

Submitted by EBA (not verified) on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 7:49am.

Yea, you're right, none of us is going to get off this planet alive. With that in mind, when I die I don't want to die sick. I see too many old people who are sick...and have been so for many years. This is no way to spend the end of your life. Not much enjoyment in that. And most of their chronic illnesses is a direct result from the lifestyle they lived and choices they made. I know, I just turn 66 and am in pretty good health, but I wouldn't have been if I would have kept up the lifestyle I had in my early 40's...smoking, beer, drugs/pharmaceuticals, fast foods, processed foods, up late at night, no exercise, high stress job, etc. I feel pretty good now and hope to die in my sleep.

Submitted by Vreni Gurd on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 10:20am.

Hi Diane,

I just want to let you know that I have nothing to do with the ads on this site.  Anything I happen to endorse will be within the text of my posts or in the references, but I am not personally endorsing the other products advertised on this site as healthy.


Vreni Gurd BPHE


Health and Vitality Coach

Corrective Exercise Specialist

Certified Integrated Somatic Therapist (INT)

Metabolic Typing Advisor


Submitted by Marc on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 2:37pm.

It's been a long time. I can't believe you're still posting to this website. I know it's still active, but it seems to have been taken over by spammers. Not sure if anyone who is really interested is even reading it.

I know I don't any more, except for that VERY rare occasion, like now, when for unexplained reason I clicked on the link in my email.

And did you know you were responding to a comment from February of '09?

Best wishes,

Living with MCL

Submitted by darjeeling black tea (not verified) on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 10:55pm.

I think tea benefit to health in many ways.Black teas contain antioxidants which prevent the damage caused by free radicals which can cause numerous can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes as this tea helps to stimulate the arteries, in turn it increases blood circulation to the heart.However, as any food, it may cause not good feeling if you drink it when so starving.Thanks

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/13/2012 - 7:05am.

So this is old but it still gets read I assume. I get constipated from too much Liptons decaf green tea. I feel it bothering me right away. My kidneys just dont like it anymore. It never use to be that way. But now since I take a medicine that causes them to work harder i just cant drink as much of it or any. Its probably the aluminum not the fluoride. I also cant drink Sierra Mist anymore. My kidneys dont handle this well either. I know youre going to be shocked, but what I can drink is regular coca cola. It immediately releases the tension from too much calcium and other metals etc. and kinda moisturizes or softens the skin. Also relieves constipation as it pushes the excess calcium out.

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