Adulterated tea image.jpg

The adulteration of tea has taken place since the early 1800s. Adulterated tea contains chemicals or additives which, for various reasons, do not belong in the tea - as distinct from flavourings. Adulterants are generally added to tea to reduce manufacturing costs, sell it at a higher price, or deceive the consumer in some other way.

History[edit | edit source]

The adulteration of tea on a significant scale started in the early 19th century.

Substances[edit | edit source]

Many substances have been used to adulterate tea. Ordinary substances for adulterating tea include, but are not limited to:

  • Prussian blue — a nonsoluble, blue pigment commonly used to color blueprints, crayons, paintings, and paint; it is non-toxic to humans
  • Indigo — a blue dye derived from the Indigofera tinctoria plant; it is non-toxic to humans
  • Graphite (Plumbago) — a naturally occurring mineral that is a form of carbon; commonly used as the "lead" in pencils
  • Gypsum — a soft, naturally occurring mineral; used to alter color of tea
  • Soapstone — a naturally occurring mineral composed of talc

In some cases tea that had already been used, and dried, was added to fresh tea.

Legislation[edit | edit source]

Laws have been passed to prevent the adulteration of tea. The Adulteration of Tea Act in 1776 was passed by the British Parliament. A similar law against the adulteration of coffee had been passed in 1718. A comparable law was later passed in the United States in 1883.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Scientific American article [1]
  • Chest of Books [2]
  • UK Tea & Infusions Association [3]
  • An article by Judith L Fisher [4]

External links[edit | edit source]

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