Last week I happened to glance at the label on a bag of tea I was about to plunge into some nice hot water. I found the expected plant and spice bits on the list, but they were followed by something called soy lecithin. That was a little disturbing since I didn’t know what it was, and I’m generally suspicious of soy additives.
A little searching got me to a blog post titled They’re attacking my tea with soy lecithin dammit! Apparently someone else had the same reaction I did.
The real danger is the toxic Hexane that is used to process soy lecithin into something a company can sell to make money. The “stuff” that is chemically turned into soy lecithin is a by-product of the soy manufacturing process that is often dehydrated and then recolored with chemicals to make it lighter so that it can be added to foods to make them “smoother” and to act as an emulsifier to keep foods like butter or cake mix from separating and to make the cleaning of manufacturing equipment faster (i.e. for the non-stick properties).
Yeah, that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I want in my drink. So I did a bit more searching.
It turns out that Bigelow Tea publishes a list of all their soy lecithin-free teas. Several of my favorites are on that list. Sadly, Celestial Seasonings has a FAQ entry that addresses this differently:
Soy lecithin is a soy-based emulsifier (used to keep ingredients from separating) found in the natural flavors we use in some of our teas. All products that contain soy lecithin are clearly labeled on our packages and the product pages on our website. If you have any questions about soy lecithin, please send us an email at email@example.com.
So they don’t publish a list of their teas. And the boil the whole thing down to “don’t worry, but contact us if you are concerned.”
I know which teas I’ll be drinking.
Keep an eye on those labels…