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Herbal tea in the test: These varieties are free from harmful substances!

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Written by Till von Bracht • Medical editor

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Whether peppermint, fennel, chamomile or colorful mixtures - herbal teas are very popular with Germans. Not just to quench your thirst or just to relax: Many also hope it will have a positive effect on health. Probably everyone has drunk chamomile tea for a sore throat or fennel tea for stomach problems.

But do herbal teas really deserve their healthy image? Stiftung Warentest has now a total of 64 Teas checked for pollutants, for example pesticides and poisons from wild herbs.

The result: about every second herbal tea was convincing. Especially with fennel and peppermint teas, there are many very good products in terms of pollution.

However, the testers found a high content of questionable substances in some types of tea. Especially the one Camomile tea the company Kusmi Tea received negative results in the test. Final grade: Poor. The reason: This chamomile tea contained alarmingly high levels of Plant poison PA (pyrrolizidine alkaloids). With just one bag, the Kusmi Tea Chamomile exceeded the limit value, which is still considered to be of little concern, by 380 times.

Stiftung Warentest was also able to demonstrate an increased content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in other types of tea - for example in

  • the Chamomile teas from Teekanne, Pukka and the "Westminster Tea" from Aldi (Nord)
  • as well as in both Herbal mixes "Kings's Crown Herb Symphony" by Rossmann and "8 Herbs" by Teekanne.

How do pyrrolizidine alkaloids get into the tea bag?

The pyrrolizidine alkaloids are natural ingredients of many wild herbs. This protects the plants from predators. However, they are rather undesirable in food, after all, in high doses they can lead to acute liver damage.

These wild herbs can easily hide between the tall chamomile plants and are then mistakenly harvested.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment therefore recommends parents not to offer their children only herbal teas and tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also consume herbal teas and tea alternately with other beverages.

This is how Stiftung Warentest tested it

Overall were 64 herbal teas on different Pollutants examined, including

  • 15 fennel teas (6 with organic seal),
  • 18 mint teas (4 with organic seal, 1 medicinal tea),
  • 15 chamomile teas (2 with organic seal, 3 medicinal teas)
  • and 16 herbal tea blends (4 with organic seal).

The main points when analyzing the Pollution was the respective salary of

  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids,
  • Pesticides
  • and anthraquinone.

Chamomile tea and herbal tea blends were also checked for nicotine.

Worth knowing: Herbal tea is actually not a tea

Herbal mixtures such as peppermint, chamomile, rooibos, herbal or fruit tea are actually not tea in the narrower sense because they are not made from the Tea bush be won. This is why one speaks here of tea-like products.

These are the results and test winners

The good news first: 14 of the 15 tested Fennel teas scored “very good”! Only the fennel tea from the Marco Polo brand only came up with a "satisfactory" rating.

Most of them too Mint teas are recommended in the opinion of Stiftung Warentest: Above all, the varieties from Alnatura and Sidroga were able to convince with a very low amount of harmful substances.

Herbal tea blends and chamomile teas fared slightly worse overall. The test winner in the herbal tea blends category was the product "Organic Herb Garden" from Tee Handelskontor Bremen. Rating: 1.0!

Both Chamomile teas Only one product was able to score: Messmer's chamomile tea contained comparatively few pollutants and was rated "good". In all other products, either too many pyrrolizidine alkaloids or too many pesticides were detected.

Chamomile tea: These products contain the fewest pollutants

productPrice per 100 g (€)Final grade
Messmerchamomile4,50good (2.0)
Tree of lifechamomile6,65satisfactory (2.7)
H&S chamomile flowers No. 2110,70satisfactory (2.8)
EdekaGood & inexpensive chamomile1,47satisfactory (3.0)
LidlLord Nelson chamomile1,47satisfactory (3.0)

Herbal tea blends: These products contain the fewest pollutants

productPrice per 100 g (€)Final grade
Tea trading office BremenOrganic herb garden7,45very good (1.0)
Aldi southWestcliff herbal enjoyment1,78good (1.6)
Gschwendner teaGourmet herbal tea No. 12378,75good (1.6)
Penny 9-herb tea1,78good (1.8)
Tea house 9 herbs3,30good (2.4)

Mint tea: These products contain the fewest pollutants

productPrice per 100 g (€)Final grade
AlnaturaPeppermint tea4,15very good (1.5)
SidrogaPeppermint leaves12,20very good (1.5)
Aldi north)Westminster Tea Peppermint0,98good (2.0)
DennreePeppermint tea4,30good (2.0)
dmOrganic peppermint tea3,85good (2.0)

Fennel tea: These products contain the fewest pollutants

productPrice per 100 g (€)Final grade
AlnaturaBaby fennel tea4,15very good (1.0)
Herbafennel1,40very good (1.0)
HippOrganic fennel tea4,85very good (1.0)
pennyFennel tea1,19very good (1.0)
RossmannBabydream organic baby tea fennel2,75very good (1.0)

Stiftung Warentest: Peppermint, fennel, chamomile & Co: Only every second herbal tea is convincing. test 04/2017, pp. 16-21

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in herbal teas and teas. Statement by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, online publication: www.bfr.bund.de (July 5, 2013)

Last content check:29.03.2017
Last change: 27.03.2020