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Bigelow Tea is terribly misrepresented about lead and not much I can do but watch…


Cindi Bigelow, CEO, Bigelow Tea

Wow what a heck of a week it has been.  I think I have not stopped looking at my computer for one week straight (as many on my team have also been doing). It is amazing how one “off- comment” can truly be so harmful.  I could never say what they did was to scare people but that was the net effect.  This one company called, that is paid to do studies (they do not disclose who pays for each study) did a report on comparing green tea pills versus green tea bottled drinks versus green tea (in teabags and loose)-okay that is fair and actually something we welcome.

Results are interesting and  seem logical…. They have the same results our years and years of testing of many brands of bottled tea and tea in both bags and loose  have shown.  The report finds  what we would have expected them to see, that bottled teas really have very little of the antioxidant EGCG, and yes tea (bags and loose) have much more.  However, an important point is missing, EGCG varies per crop so that what is found in the tea will change the next time it is tested.  And they also made a completely inaccurate statement that teabag paper somehow filters out heavy metals. (Heavy metals can’t release out of the leaf.) also tests the pills, bottles and tea for lead (which is smart as pills can have issues in this area), and the study clearly states that all the bottled teas and brewed green teas are clean from containing any significant amount.  The reason for that is very simple.  Lead, as well as most heavy metals,  can be found in the soil and can get into the plant.  However, lead does not release from the leaf into the water so virtually nothing infuses into the cup. (The teabag paper has nothing to do with it.) But for some reason the president  of decides to mention that Bigelow and Lipton have lead in the leftover teabag.  But what he was focusing on was completely irrelevant, for as his study stated, all the brewed cups of tea were clean. Trace amounts of lead remain in the leaf, and the brew that you drink is clean.   This fact that the cup is 100% safe has gotten buried by the attention he has drawn to the leftover leaves!   People who love tea are inappropriately concerned that some brands are not safe.  Because of this side bar statement, some people are associating the words Bigelow tea and the word lead!

That started a firestorm that I could not believe unfolded in front of my eyes.  And the most unfortunate part is that there are people that read that statement who might not drink our tea because they are scared of what they read.

An important fact to know is that both the tests and our independent labs show that a brewed cup of tea has (at the most) 1/5 the amount of lead allowed by the EPA for bottled water!  The bottled green teas tested (which most likely were made from China green tea as over 70% of all green tea sold in our country is from there), are also safe from lead.  However, the recap of the study makes another irrelevant  comment when it states that the origin of the tea could be a significant factor affecting the amount of lead in the leaves since the brewed beverages are clean. The leftover leaves used for brewing bottled teas most likely will have some lead in the leaf but the fact remains that it does not release into the beverage.   So although EGCG can vary, especially from bottled to teabags, (a point brought out in the paid study), lead is never an issue when consuming either product.

It is just hard for me to watch all this go on around me knowing how much care we take to ensure we only sell lovely tasting and safe products and I will never understand why this individual singled us out to talk about lead in the leaf  but he really scared a lot of innocent people unnecessarily.

Not much more I can do now, just continue to always test our teas and only sell what we know is 100% safe for my own family to consume….such is the world of social media,  you have to take the good with the not so good!

Cindi Bigelow

President and CEO

Third Generation, Bigelow Tea


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17 Responses to “Bigelow Tea is terribly misrepresented about lead and not much I can do but watch…”

  1. Denise Loeb writes:

    So sorry to hear about the negative connotations about your teas – which were totally incorrect! Bigelow has been a very responsible company and very generous in the community. I LOVE your teas and give them as gifts!!!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Kathy writes:

    Denise, you have no idea how much your support means to us, thank you so very much!!!!

  3. Brandon L writes:

    The only thing not so good about your teas is you dont have more of my favorite Bigelow Teas in loose form. I think people have more to worry about from their excessive soda and junk food consumption than some good and healthy tea leaves having trace amounts of a common element. Go Bigelow!

  4. Kathy writes:

    Brandon, thanks so much, we really appreciate your support. Which are some of your favorite flavors? We’d love to share your interest in offering more loose tea varieties with our Marketing Team for you.

  5. Lesley writes:

    I would think that after millions (billions!) of people drink green tea on a daily basis for their entire lifetimes and we have never had one report of anyone getting lead poisoning from tea should be enough to settle the issue but allas the media has a way of taking anything that sounds like controversy to the next level. Large companies such as yours, that are ethical and responsible should take heart that once the next “big” story comes along this one will be forgotten.

  6. Kathy writes:

    Lesley, thank you so much for your comments and kind words, we really appreciate your support and are so grateful that we have such wonderful consumers, such as yourself. Thanks again!

  7. Lola writes:

    My husband always drank Bigelow Green tea until he saw that report. I’m glad to read your letter regarding the lead. I will be making sure he begins again to drink this tea. Each winter at his place of work most everyone will come in with colds and spread their germs around. But, My husband rarely catches their germs. I believe that with him drinking his tea keeps his immune system up and helps him stay healthy! I would like to share with you, my husband is a Leukemia survior and is doing very well. I just know I want him to countinue drinking Bigelows Green Tea, I believe it plays a Big part in him staying healthy!
    I just want to say thank you!!

  8. Valorie writes:


    Thanks so much for sharing your story…and so great to hear that your husband is healthy!! Valorie for Bigelow Tea

  9. Teo writes:

    I know the recent acquired Charleston plant makes American grown tea. I really enjoy your Island green tea. Where do you grow or ship from the tea for the other flavors not grown in Charleston?

  10. Kathy writes:

    Teo, We can share with you that most of our Green Teas do originate from China and then are blended and packaged here in the U.S.A. Our Black Teas are sourced from a variety of origins but primarily from Sri Lanka and India although some quantities are sourced from other countries such as Argentina, China, and Taiwan.

  11. Chaztea writes:

    Im glad i decided to do a bit of research for myself and even get it from the horses mouth.(no offense) but as i read i am enjoying a fine cup of your tea and smiling becasue as i suspected it was more unwarranted hysteria…thanks for making it clear for me….Chaz

  12. Nick Warzinski writes:

    Your brand management efforts are harmful to the health of your customers.

    Lead is a heavy metal which accumulates over time and is toxic at ALL levels, including “trace amounts.” Lead exposure should be absolutely minimized and products containing even “virtually nothing” can still cause negative health effects such as neurological and cognitive problems.

    “Within the brain, lead-induced damage in the prefrontal cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum can lead to a variety of neurological disorders, such as brain damage, mental retardation, behavioral problems, nerve damage, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons disease, and schizophrenia.”

    “Recent growth studies in children suggest that there is no threshold for adverse effects from the universal exposure to inorganic lead. The biochemical mechanisms mediating low-level toxicity are unclear, but in several biological systems, lead alters calcium-mediated cellular processes and may mimic calcium in binding to regulatory proteins. Here we present evidence that lead stimulates diacylglycerol-activated calcium and phospholipid-dependent protein kinase, protein kinase C, partially purified from rat brain. Picomolar concentrations of lead are equivalent to micromolar calcium in kinase activation, so this regulatory enzyme is sensitive to the lead levels expected from current environmental exposure.”

  13. Silvana writes:

    I’m a bit late to the game here, but the above blog has a few contradictions. I’ll start by saying I’m currently drinking organic Bigelow green tea but am thinking of switching.

    First, why should I believe the CEO of Bigelow is more inclined to give objective and correct information on this issue than Consumer Labs? There’s an emphasis on the study conducted by CL as being “paid.” However, there is no more interested and biased and “paid” party in the mix here than the CEO of Bigelow.

    Two, the CEO states with confidence that no lead or heavy metals can escape the leaf and get into the actual brewed tea, but then later she speaks of the amount of lead a brewed cup of green tea has – “a brewed cup of tea has (at the most) 1/5 the amount of lead allowed by the EPA for bottled water!” In other words, lead can and does escape the tea leaves.

    This issue begs the question, why not source your green tea leaves from Japan where the lead content is dramatically lower than tea coming from China?

  14. Bigelow Tea writes:

    Thank you for your post Silvana. We respect your opinion and we also appreciate that you have been enjoying our organic green tea.

    We think that we and the Consumer Labs report are saying essentially the same thing. A quote in the report states, “The liquid portions of the teas brewed from the products tested contained very little lead, posing no health concern.”

    These are the same results we have seen as well. We have tested our teas for many years, also using independent labs, and our results clearly show that a cup of our brewed green tea is well below the EPA standards allowed for lead in a glass water (a cup of brewed tea has approximately less than 1/5 the amount of lead allowed in drinking water). We have also tested green teas from Japan and China. Both have an equivalent amount of lead, both levels being infinitesimal in the dry leaves and the cup. Cindi Bigelow stated, “Lead does not release from the leaf into the water so virtually nothing infuses into the cup.” Thus, our results and the results reported by Dr. Cooperman actually come to the same conclusion. A brewed cup of our tea (as well as other competitive teas) has virtually no heavy metals in the cup.

    So we hope you can feel comfortable on both sides; that our brewed green tea (as well as all those teas Consumer Labs tested in the teabags) is 100% safe for your consumption.

    The key to the article was the cup of tea is completely safe and clean.

  15. Mary Espino writes:

    We love your teas! Bigelow is a happy addition to our teas. Keep up the good work!

  16. victoria writes:

    Enjoying a hot cup of the best tasting green tea on the market!Bigelow Green Tea!

  17. Valorie writes:

    Sounds great Victoria! That is what we call #TeaProudly!