Why is There Soy in My Hain Celestial Tea?

We recently got an email from Amy, a fooducate community member:

I drink a lot of tea. Often, the ingredients list says “natural flavors” at the end, then says

“Contains: Soy.”

I assume it is warning about soy because something in the natural flavors contains this potential allergen. So…what is the natural flavor made of?

When my husband and I scanned a Celestial Seasonings Almond Sunset box of tea with the Fooducate app, we saw that it contains soy lecithin, an emulsifier, and your explanation of how that is used in candy bars and baked goods. But we couldn’t figure out what would need binding in a tea bag.

Any insight you could lend would be appreciated.

We looked into the matter and have somewhat of an answer for you, Amy.

What you need to know:

On Hain Celestial website, there is a FAQ section that includes the following info:

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 consumerrelations@hain-celestial.com.

So we emailed the company asked for more details. Here was the response:

Thank you for taking the time blah blah blah…

The soy lecithin in our tea keeps the ingredients smoothly blended together and prevents clumping.

Thank you blah blah blah…

Since some of you are going to ask about GMO, we went ahead and emailed the company about this as well. The answer:

Thank you for taking the time blah blah blah…

The soy lecithin is not from a GMO source.

Thank you blah blah blah…

We asked, but did not get an answer to why Soy Lecithin is being used in the first place, and if there aren’t any anti-clumping ingredients. Our guess – this is the cheapest way to extend shelf life.

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  • jnwalsh1

    Never in my life have I experienced “clumpy” tea.  They just throw soy in everything now, don’t they?

    • Joe

      Almost. There are some good teas out there though that do not have soy lecithin. Check at any natural foods store around you.

    • Cody

      Even though you may not see the effect on a small scale, on an industrial scale it may be very important to maintain a proper emulsion of flavors that coat the tea. Without the lecithin, you may experience poorer quality tea.

      • Monkey Indigo

        How about we drink fresh unadulterated tea to get the good quality we desire, rather than accepting these weird ingredients.

        • jart

          tea is never fresh

  • Ayton

    Sorry fooducate, but you have successfully made yourselves look like fools for not knowing to extremely vast use of lecithin. It is NOT a preservative and stating that it is simply the “cheapest way of extending shelf life” has just made you look completely un-educated. I would remove this story if you want your readers to continue to respect you.

    • MOI

      Well, then, what is it?

    • anonymous

      Add my vote down to your total, Ayton. Anyone can vote up, but you need to log in to vote down…wow, just as bad as facebook

    • blob_face_Joe

      what a turd!

  • http://www.palateworks.com Carol

    If you want flavored tea, you should expect more than just tea as an ingredient. As for lecithin, it is most likely being used to encapsulate the flavoring (which is usually a volatile ingredient) so that it will keep longer and not be destroyed upon impact with air and hot water… plus it helps control the release of the flavor throughout the “life” of your cup of tea. You could also brew your own plain tea and add a drop of almond and/or vanilla extract if you want a flavored tea.

    • Julesd

      I have never had a problem with my own added natural ingredients for the “life” of my cup! I am so disgusted with all of the research I have been doing. Now I understand why I have stage 3 breast cancer at age 35!!! It is wrong for us to not be educated about the crap that is in the food we eat!!

      • Dar

        I’m really sorry to hear that! You should be able to sue the FDA for not informing the public about additives that are potentially dangerous to our health. After all, they are there to protect us, not the corporations who manufacture this stuff!

      • WendyO

        Right! I have 3 Autistic grandsons and if that isn’t enough proof that we are being poisoned well I don’t know what will be. And I am sending soooo much Healing Love your way : )

    • http://www.facebook.com/denny.gregg.10 Denny Gregg

      Lets add some MSG (monosodium Glutenate) and make it taste even more delightful!!!!!!!!!!! America ! Land of chemically adulterated food. Such heaven.

      • Kate

        It’s glutamate, not glutenate.

      • Guy Cooking

        Ain’t nothing wrong with adding MSG. I assume you’re gonna complain when people add salt to your food as well?

        • Geek4Lyfee

          It is an addictive product. Salt has no nutritional benefits. The ionized white salt you are defending, is stripped of all nutrients and minerals. Compared to Himalayan salt–84 minarals included!

          • Cody

            “Addictive” or additive?
            Addictive? Depends on the person… I know many people who have unhealthy cravings for salty foods.

            Additive? Absolutely. So is salt. You forget that glutamate is present naturally in meaty and savory foods such as mushrooms, fish, poultry, beef, pork, and in foods such as cheese and wine. The only potentially bad thing about MSG is the sodium that comes with it that can raise blood pressure (if you consume too much sodium anyway).

            Salt has no nutritional benefits? While I will bet that most all Americans don’t need a salt shaker to get their daily dose of sodium (since it’s in everything nowadays), sodium and chlorine are ABSOLUTELY essential nutrients, as well as iodine. Himalayan salt just has these and many more minerals… you’d suffer ill effects if you eat too much of it just the same as iodized table salt.

          • Geek4Lyfee

            Same as you drinking too much water of brushing your teeth too much. Drinking too much tea is bad as well. Everything needs a balance. The salt is stripped of minerals but Himalayan salt is great for the body. Better than regular man made salt.

          • WendyO

            Nice,somebody else that has a clue. Thank You ; )

        • WendyO

          There is truly something wrong with you! Or you have never done ANY research on MSG. I reeeeally try not putting anything negative or just not nice,but my family has been severely impacted by the poisoning of our food. I am sending really good vibes your way. Please do research before you lose someone or you get to live a hard and undeserving life so these Million Dollar Co.s can save a couple cents.

      • WendyO

        Couldn’t have said it any better! Sickening isn’t it!

        • UDidTheResearchButNotAll_Of_It

          It really bugged me that you accused someone of not doing their homework when you glossed over the comments of someone who clearly did the research. As did Geek4Lyfee with his trivial “too much of anything is bad” comment.

          Salt is vital in many functions but especially in the balance it plays with potassium for muscle function. Those of us that exercise lose salt from sweating, we probably eat healthy as well, which means we usually have little or no salt intake, usually we get enough but some of us don’t, the most common problem is usually lack of potassium in our diet, not excess salt (for most of us the issues we face can be fixed by upping our potassium intake to 100% DV). Iodine is another elusive part of our diet that we make up for with Iodized salt.

          MSG is NOT harmful, if you look up the history. Admittedly this is hard because so many people have an agenda in this debate that a lot of information is hard to find. Like the studies for the MLD (median lethal dosage) that got put on *some* MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) but not all of them (which is odd and stinks of hidden agenda but possibly is because of the chemical “class”, water for example has a MLD but its never on the sheets). What they will tell you is 120 mg/kg is required to “possibly irritate the eyes” from ingestion. Whereas the MLD is much different. For those that don’t know the MLD is there because poison reacts differently in different people. It has build up times and effects that depend on many factors. A significant one is body fat. Fat tends to concentrate and collect toxins from the body which means you don’t flush out some toxins very quick and you can get a lethal dose if you eat below the lethal threshold for a long time. Think of it like a bucket of water with a hole. The more fat you have the smaller the hole and the longer it takes for the MSG to leak out. If you fill up the bucket you die. The catch is that your bucket size is dependent on your weight and the poison in question. Bigger people get bigger buckets, things like Ricin gets a thimble at most no matter who you are. That’s why they do the MLD, the amount that will kill on average when taken in one shot. How much it takes to fill your bucket in other words. The MLD for MSG is 16,600 mg/kg for rats and 11,400 mg/kg for mice. Assuming we’re as weak as mice to this poison and we’re feeding an average 10 kg one year old, we’d need 11.4 g/kg X 10 kg = 114 g of MSG in a single dose to kill the kid. Now the average american has a horrid intake of 3.4 g of salt a day. Supposing you replaced all of your salt with pure MSG and that none of the poison ever left your body it would take over 8 months to kill you. Of course it’s silly to think of anything you ingest taking 8 months to get out of your system, some of the worst drugs taken in the heaviest dosages cap out at 6 months for them to be DETECTABLE.

          The biggest of danger is your one year old pulling your 120 g bottle of MSG off the shelf and eating it all. But if your going to get up in arms over that you should probably spread the word about your 75 g bottle of licorice extract that is just as lethal and has serious effects that kick in at much less than the full bottle.

  • Amy Delamaide

    Thanks for asking about this. The lecithin article on Wikipedia offers another clue: lecithin “helps complete dispersion in water.” Carol, good ideas for flavoring tea.

    • green man

      Lecithin is close to like to drinking acid to my body

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  • Tam Shannon

    They still have a few varieties that do not contain ‘natural flavors’ or soy lecithin (Peppermint,  Sleepytime).  Hopefully this won’t change.

    • anonymous

      Just plant mint in a pot. I did at the office and just pick a leaf or two when I want mint tea or minty tea. Vote with your dollars. Spend them on something you need.

      • Liz Lange

        Mint tea is best when the mint is dried. It grows like a weed in my garden and I never use my entire harvest from year to year. Needless to say, what I don’t hang to dry for tea gets mashed into majitos!

  • Sharen

    In response to the last  sentence in the above article, about the need to extend shelf life, I guess my question is, just how long do you expect to keep a box/tin of tea?  Shouldn’t you drink and consume it in at least a month or two at the most?  I really don’t want any soy in my products, thank you.

    • Dar

      The reason is to keep it on the grocery store shelves for as many years as they can if they aren’t able to sell it right away!

      • Dar

        I, myself, am sick & tired of additives in my foods that are only there to benefit the business in the sense of higher profit and not a care for the people who consume them.

        • Cody

          Ok, deal. No more preservatives.
          And bam. Now you’re plentiful supermarket has barely any thing at all. You’re selection would be pretty much limited to products that are produced either locally or very near to your store.
          You don’t realize how short the shelf life of food products can be, do you? Many food companies wouldn’t be able to afford to even sell their products at the store if it weren’t for additives that allow them to ship products states away and have the products be able to sit on the shelves until someone wants to buy it.
          I’m not saying all additives are good, just that you can’t generalize them.

          • Tim

            Personally, I think there is already way too much selection in our ‘plentiful’ supermarkets. A lot of it goes to waste, and could be used to feed people starving in less developed parts of the world instead. Do we really need 100 kinds of tea??

          • pupsncats

            We may not need 100 kinds of tea but would you rather someone limit your choices to their liking? Should we pass a law where Americans are only given certain food and drink choices (determined by who??) so that nothing goes to waste? Lots of grocery stores (and restaurants) donate their unsold but still good products to local food banks or community centers that serve the homeless and the poor.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.millmann Jason Millmann

    I’m going GMO-free (best I can since I live in the US) and was surprised to see soy in my tea. Even though they say non-gmo I’m pretty sure it is gmo otherwise they would state “non gmo soy lecithin” Anyway switching to Choice, Eden, or Numi teas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eileen.rose.397 Eileen Rose

      You can also make the assumption Hain-Celestial IS using gmo soy in their tea based on who is their parent company and how many millions they contributed to Monsanto’s NO on Proposition 37 in California last nov.

    • Dar

      I will too!

  • Tiffany

    Soy lecithin is an unnecessary ingredient that I’ve found in so many more things recently. It acts as a binder and emulsifier, but outside of those specific uses it does not need to be used. I’m highly allergic to it, so I really resent it being put into everything. I haven’t heard anything about it extending shelf life, I don’t know how it would do that. Herbal tea, for god’s sake, it’s just herbs, leave it alone, big companies, there are too many health sensitivities to soy!

    • http://www.facebook.com/denny.gregg.10 Denny Gregg

      Yeah ! I go through the same hell every week attempting to buy food without milk in it (extreme Lactose intollerance). The only good side of it is that I’ve discovered I can’t go through life just eating whatever comes my way like so many other people who are being poisoned by the highly centralized American food industry. The price (cheapness, or profit, health be damned) rules the day with these giants. And now for the future of the food industry coming to a super market near you already—food processed in Communist China. You get bacteria, lead, anti-freeze, and who knows what else in your food—recent poisonings: thousands of pets, baby food, toothpaste etc., and American worker unemployment. Did you know there is only one cannery left in the USA that processes Tuna—its in Southern California—Chicken of the Sea. All other brands are foreign and the cheapest is coming from—you guessed it, the Communist dictatorship of China. Our lives are getting so much better here in America as our two-headed monster political party the Democrat/Republican siamese twins sell out to the highest bidders.

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  • Dannyboy

    There poisoning us one milligram at a time!

  • bet you want post this

    im am definatly not an expert, but it seems to me that due to gov. backing of soy; and that meaning soy is one of the largest cultavated crops in america. So, when gov. money is spent on something like a cash crop, companies “better” find plenty of use for that paticular crop. Then when all is said and done with each individual “soy product” production process, I’m willing to bet there is plenty of bi-product of soy. And ask yourself a question if a company has the choice of paying to dispose of a substance or using it a little here a little there to further stretch there products, in effect increase their bottom line, what do you think there going to do? Maybe there is not anything ethically wrong here. On the other hand, why or what ( or who ) is the real paticular reason of soy backing from big Gov. there is a reason why ,generally, most bi-products are considered waste. i’m not saying this is always the case. however I am also some one who doesn’t want soy in almost everything on the shelves of a typical grocery store just some company that doesn’t care anything about me can get even richer.

    • Thornye Rose

      I hope you’ve gotten your GED since then, or at least hit up some remedial reading courses.

  • Julesd

    I don’t believe it for a second!! Only about 5 percent of soybeans in the USA are not GMOs. They would clearly label their cartons! LIARS!

    • anonymous

      Did they say the nongmo source is domestic?

  • http://twitter.com/AskLeahRenee Ask Leah Renee

    I noticed the same thing recently but, same as you, I cannot think of a good reason to use that! I am an avid tea drinker and none of the other tea’s I purchase (if I am not using loose leaf) contain that additive! The product would in fact then contain GMO’s since it is not otherwise labeled as certified organic (so their sources would be from GM soy). Hopefully, one day, large corporations will also consider how their products affect the users and not just their pocketbooks.

  • Kerynj

    Good to know!! I usually buy organic tea anyway.

  • Hadassah Rivkah Milsztajn

    The peppermint tea doesn’t have soy. Enjoy!

  • John from Whole Foods

    “We asked, but did not get an answer to why Soy Lecithin is being used in
    the first place, and if there aren’t any anti-clumping ingredients.”
    This does not make sense. They clearly stated why they used soy lecithin.

  • kkc

    They clearly make non-natural flavored teas, people. This is usually done by adding some sort of ‘wet’ ingredient to the tea leaves. The lecithin may be in the flavoring itself or added to the tea leaves to prevent them from clumping in the bag, should they not be completely dry (of the flavoring) upon packaging. I have never heard of soy lecithin being used to extend shelf-life.

  • Mark Alsip

    What do you mean “we asked and we did not get an answer”. Yes you did. You printed their answer two paragraphs before!

  • Diana

    What about those of us who have breast cancer that estrogen feeds or makes the cancer grow??
    Natural estrogen is found in Soy.
    I am finding that Soy is used in so many items from the foods in our grocery stores to makeup.
    Now I know why it is used but it can be a death sentence to many of us.