My lesson in labelling

Loblaws tea boxSo I buy this tea from Loblaws, this President’s Choice lemon green tea, and I figure what the heck, I’ll buy the organic stuff. I’ve never seriously thought about it before, but I bet there are tea plantations that spray their plants with God-knows-what, and my plan is to take the leaves and dip them in boiling water and then drink the water, so this probably ought to be more than an abstract concern. Possibly I was influenced by all the signage around my local Loblaws talking about the company’s green-label products.

I glance at the ingredients on the box of teabags, and it says three things: organic tea leaves, organic lemon peel, and natural flavour. I know “natural flavour” can really mean just about anything, but a quick check of a couple of other lemon-flavoured teas on the shelf shows that they all have it, so I figure I might as well.

When I get the box of tea to work and tear open the plastic wrapper and pop the perforated cardboard box, I find that it contains 20 individually packaged sachets of tea. Each one is wrapped in a sort of papery substance that I’m pretty sure is plastic, or at best paper with a plasticky coating. I’ve bought other kinds of non-organic President’s Choice tea and they’ve come all tossed in one thin plastic bag inside the cardboard box. Bad enough, but acceptable. But now I’ve spent extra for organic tea in a green-coloured box, and it’s arguably worse for the environment than the non-organic stuff.

The box of teabags is, to be clear, not deceptively labelled. The box does say that it contains 20 individually wrapped teabags right on there. It just didn’t occur to me to check — who’s going to the trouble and expense of buying organic tea who wants it packaged that way? A tiny handful of people who are personally concerned about consuming pesticides themselves but don’t give a damn about overpackaging, perhaps.

The tea, for the record, is tasty. I just wish it didn’t come with a twinge of guilt in each cup.

Still, lesson learned. Read the whole label.

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