The famous Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang has said at one point in his life that, “There is something in the spirit of tea that could drive us towards a world of contemplation of life”. Which is true to his words, tea, of course, has won the hearts of many people, including vegans worldwide, over centuries. Vegan tea enthusiasts might be wondering if all teas are vegan are not.
Some teas contain non-vegan properties while teas farmed using the vegan agriculture method, organic and freshly plain-brewed, are technically vegan. So, all vegan tea lovers are welcome to read this article further and learn about your cup of tea to know if it is vegan-friendly or not.
Is Tea Vegan?
Tea leaves are derived from the evergreen bush Camellia sinensis, indigenous to Asia. Before reaching your cup, tea leaves undergo a process where they are gently plucked, oxidized, and dried. In this process, literally, no animal or animal by-product is involved except for humans and machines.
However, there are instances where tea cannot sit well with the ethics of the vegans. The origin or process themselves are not concerns for vegans. But, the mode of cultivation and things that can be included later as additives can not be vegan-friendly.
Besides, just like we discussed in our article about coffee, the packaging in which tea is shipped to the market can also contain non-vegan constituents. So, in that case, all the types of tea cannot be vegan just because they are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. The best way to get vegan tea is to check if it is grown organically in vegan agriculture, read the table of ingredients in the packaging, and ensure that it is vegan-friendly.
If you are also a vegan coffee lover, you would be interested in reading this article to know everything about vegan and non-vegan coffee.
What Is Vegan Tea?
Any type of tea grown organically, using the means of vegan agriculture, plainly brewed without any animal-based additives, and comes in a packaging that could meet the vegan standards are one hundred percent vegan-friendly. What you should remember is that “Tea” itself can only be obtained by the shrub Camellia sinensis. And, when you go to the store next time and invest some time reading the labels that are shelved under the “Tea” category, you may find that not all teas actually come from Camellia sinensis. However, there are five main types of tea that derive from this plant. They are:
- Black Tea – This is the most common type of tea. Black teas tend to be comparatively high in caffeine, with nearly half as much caffeine as in a cup of coffee.This type of tea is usually brewed into a deep, coppery color and typically has a strong, more robust taste than other tea varieties.
- Green tea – Green teas are usually brewed into a light green or yellow color. They carry about half as much caffeine as black tea (approximately a quarter that of a cup of coffee.) Plus, they have a lighter essence and a more delicate flavor.
- White tea – This type of tea is a gentle, minimally processed tea highly sought after by experts. White tea has a light consistency and a delicate taste with a fresh, precise glaze. Also, this tea is relatively low in caffeine compared to black and green tea, although some silver tip teas may be somewhat higher in caffeine.
- Oolong tea – Oolong is a somewhat oxidized tea. And in terms of oxidation, it can fall somewhere between black and green teas.
- Pu-erh tea – This tea is a somewhat fermented, aged tea similar to black tea in nature. Pu-erh teas are relatively high in caffeine, carrying about the same amount as black tea (half that of a cup of coffee.) And also, these teas steep up a dark brown-black shade and have an entire essence with a strong, robust, and intensely pleasing taste.
Thus, all these types of tea obtained from the Camellia sinensis plant itself are vegan-friendly when grown organically and unless milk or any other animal-based product like honey is used as an additive.
Now, as we brought you teas that derive directly from the Camellia sinensis plant, you might be wondering what teas do not come from it. Technically, “herbal teas” are not from Camellia sinensis. When you go to the store, you can see a variety of herbal teas available. They are generally made by infusing or are decoctions of flowers, herbs, spices, or plants. Unlike tea, most of them are caffeine-free. Some common types of herbal teas are:
- Rose Hip
- Lemon Balm
- Dandelion and Milk Thistle
- Butterfly pea flower
So, again, herbal teas alone are also vegan-friendly. But, make sure to examine the labels to see if you notice any non-vegan ingredient is used in them.
Fruit-Infused Tea ( Flavored Tea)
Fruit-infused teas are increasingly gaining popularity among tea-lovers all over the world. These types of teas are made by using black tea or green tea as the base and then by infusing fruits like cherries, apples, berries, passionfruit, etc. Fruit-infused teas themselves are vegan-friendly unless sweeteners like honey are included in them.
The popularity of matcha tea also should not be underestimated under any terms. Matcha is another special derivation of the Camellia sinensis plant. It is a finely ground powdered version of green tea which is processed in a unique manner. That is, the green tea shrubs used to get matcha tea are shade-grown for three to four weeks prior to the harvest. And then, the stems and veins are extracted during processing. So, vegans can consume matcha tea unhesitatingly when ensured no animal-based ingredient is used as an additive. Plus, you can substitute plant-based milk with cow’s milk if you need to enjoy a cup of Matcha Latte.
Originating from Taiwan, bubble tea has now spread widely among most parts of the world. This tea has a special ingredient- chewy little balls made out of tapioca or cassava starch. Black tea, oolong tea, or green tea are used as the base of this tea. However, when talking in terms of veganism, bubble tea can be a little tricky. We say this because bubble tea is intensely flavorful and may contain a few non-vegan ingredients like milk and honey. Ordinary milk can always be substituted by plant-based milk, but vegans should be picky with the sweeteners used in the tea.
Who wouldn’t adore having a glass of refreshing iced tea on a hot summer day? Practically, iced tea is a cold beverage made using tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant as the base. And flavors from different fruits are added, or fruit-infused tea is used. Most of the time, different syrups or sugar, which are essentially vegan, are used to sweeten this drink. However, when you order iced tea from a shop, it is safe to inquire about the ingredients used since sometimes artificial dyes, colors, or honey can be used to sweeten the cold-brewed tea.
Teabags are life-savers, especially when it comes to a busy day and when we still need tea to recharge. When compared with loose tea, teabags are hassle-free and time-saving. But, as a selective vegan, you may be curious to know if the tea bag you put in your cup is vegan-friendly or not. In fact, if your tea bag does not contain any adhesive that includes animal-based gelatine, it comes more to the safer side. But, since veganism is ethical beyond what a vegan consumes, and as tea bags are made using plastic, which could threaten the environment, one could have an issue using them.
What is Masala Chai?
Masala Chai is another version or a recipe of tea that originated in India and recently increased demand all over the world. This beverage is made from four primary ingredients- black tea, sugar, milk, and spices. Indians use spices like green cardamoms, ginger, cloves, pepper, and cinnamon in the classic Masala Chai. And, retail Chai makers use infusions or tea bags in this recipe. However, vegans can enjoy Masala Chai when cow’s milk is replaced by plant-based milk in the traditional Chai recipe.
Pronounced as ” Kom-Boocha”, which is also called Kombucha Tea is a special type of fermented black or green tea. This beverage is famous for its remarkable health benefits. A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), which is vegan itself, is added to sugar and tea and left to ferment for days or weeks. However, when you purchase this drink from a shop, you should be watchful since industrial Kombucha producers might use “natural flavors” or sweeteners that could have been obtained from animals. Unless then, Kombucha is a healthy vegan drink.
What To Consider When You Buy/Drink Tea As A Vegan?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, tea has started to gain the interest of many people globally. And, when we compare ten years before and now, we can see that the tea market is abundant with many new brands. So, people, particularly the vegan community, have an inclination to be misguided with the most obscure ingredients in different types of tea. Therefore, it is essential that you read the label or the packaging well before purchasing any tea.
Moreover, when you order tea from a shop, don’t forget to check if any kind you intend to request is vegan-friendly or not. Be watchful about the sweeteners, creamers, and milk they use, and if possible, ask for vegan-friendly substitutions. Plus, if in case you come across any place that does not have vegan options, drinking plain-brewed tea could be your next best option.
A Guide To Identify The Common Ingredients Included In Tea Which Aren’t Vegan-Friendly
When you buy a packet of tea from the shop, always remember to read the labels. And, if you come across any of these ingredients we have listed below, avoid buying them if you are a vegan. These ingredients are often used to supplement more flavor and sweeten teas.
- Natural flavors – Natural flavors can be one of the main ingredients where vegans could get tricked. In fact, as per the FDA description, natural flavors are not vegan. If you see “natural flavors” on the packaging of the tea you intend to buy, and if they still fail to mention from where they are derived, it is best to avoid buying them.
- Colors or Dyes – Some flavored may contain added dyes and pigments, which can be entirely non-vegan. Some natural pigments come from insect material, while some others may originate from plants. So, if the label does not explicitly mention the base of those colors or dyes used, we bet you wouldn’t take a risk by trying them out.
- Caramel – Unless it is mentioned as an artificial caramel flavor, avoid them as the caramel is made from sugar, cream, and butter.
- Honey – Honey is the most common sweetener used in teas. Avoid it if you are vegan, as it comes from bees.
- Cream – A creamy cup of tea may sound really soothing, but cream often may include dairy in them.
- Gelatin – Gelatin is usually obtained from animals. But there is an exception called Agar-agar, which comes from plants and is totally vegan.
- Lactose – Some teas contain lactose which again, comes from an animal.
- Milkfat -If you ever get to read this ingredient on the packaging of your tea, do not buy it since lactose too comes from an animal.
- Sodium Caseinate – This dairy milk originated from an animal used in some teas.
Is Lipton Tea Vegan-Friendly?
If you are a genuine tea enthusiast, we are sure you have come across this name, “Lipton”. Lipton Tea is one of the leading tea brands in the world, which originated in the United Kingdom. They have spread their tea under several sub-brands in names such as:
- Lipton Yellow Brand
- Lipton Iced Tea
- Lipton Brisk
- Lipton Pyramid Tea
- Pure Leaf
According to the research data we collected, we perceived that Lipton had stopped testing on animals. And, according to the official website of Lipton, they have stated that their teas are vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Scroll down to find a few other top best vegan tea brands that will help you satisfy your taste buds.
Vegan Spiced Chai Tea Latte, Creamy, Delicious & Easy Dairy Free Alternative. Made in Colorado (Lightly Sweetened, Gluten Free, Soy Free), 16 oz
Black Loose Leaf Tea, Vegetarian, Vegan Friendly, Resealable Tea Tin (100g, 1ct)
Tea is apparently the most consumed beverage in the world after water. And we are sure that most people from the vegan community are also tea lovers who fancy a cup any time of the day. So, as you see, being a vegan, you have a few things to consider before selecting your tea.
However, as a whole, tea that derives from the Camellia Sinensis plant itself is vegan unless any animal-based additive is included or not grown organically with vegan agriculture. Thus, we have guided you throughout this article on how to dodge the non-vegan ingredients that may consist in tea, and we hope that you got educated enough from this post about your cup of tea.