Heads up my GF tea drinking friends because it is true: gluten can lurk where we least expect it: in our cups of tea. Tea nerd alert: tea is actually camellia sinensis, a specific shrub, and herbal teas are typically infusions and do not contain any actual tea. If you stick with straight up tea, you know you are getting a cup of camellia sinensis, whether that tea is black, green, white or oolong. But what if you want a comforting caffeine-free beverage made of an infusion of herbs, flowers, bark and leaves? What could possibly contain gluten in herbal tea?
Cue the scary music: Barley malt is considered unsafe for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and is used as a sweetener in some herbal teas, such as Yogi Tea’s Stomach Ease. From Valerie Crowley at Yogi Tea: “Barley malt is in only 5 of our 56 flavors of tea. It is in the Calming Tea, Stomach Ease Tea, Fasting Tea, Kava Stress Relief Tea and the Decaf Roast Tea.”
Another tea to look out for is Tazo tea, which is served at Starbucks. Phone calls to two locations in Sonoma County revealed that the baristas were not aware of any gluten in their teas. My super sleuthing led me to learn that Green Ginger filterbags, Tazo Honeybush filterbags, Lemon Ginger juiced tea and Tea Lemonade juiced tea are not gluten free.
Be careful out there and be a gluten detective! Or at least bring your gluten-sniffing dog with you everywhere. Don’t expect your hard working baristas to know; go online, contact companies, and be aware of every ingredient in your cup of herbal tea. Let’s make sure our next cup of tea is gluten free!
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Guest blogging by Janine Acevedo M.E.C.S.E. Janine is a GF mom of a GF kid and works as an early intervention special educator. She is also the San Francisco Early Intervention writer for examiner.com.