Non-GMO Project Verified Teas


October is Non-GMO month, a month meant to raise awareness and educate about genetically modified crops and their effect on the environment and our health.
Did you know that Choice Organic Teas was the first tea company in the U. S. to receive Non-GMO Project Verification? We’re proud to have the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on our products and we hope to answer some common questions about GMOs and their place in the tea industry for you.

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes are spliced together in ways that would not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. There are currently a handful of crops in production that have been genetically modified: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and yellow summer squash. Nearly all of these crops have been engineered to tolerate direct applications of herbicide and/or to produce their own insecticide. These crops are referred to as “at-risk” or “high-risk” ingredients. Although tea is not from genetically modified plants, many additional ingredients and materials that go into tea can be derived from genetically modified organisms. A list of ingredients commonly derived from GMO sources can be found here:

What does it mean for a tea company to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
The Non-GMO Project Verification process is comprehensive. It requires on-going testing of all raw at-risk ingredients, their traceability, and their segregation to ensure ingredient integrity. Further, audits and onsite inspections for at-risk ingredient inputs are conducted annually.

While our tea does not contain any at-risk ingredients, supporting the Non-GMO Project goes hand in hand with our commitment to providing organic, high quality products. Should Camellia sinensis or any other herb we use become genetically modified, we will proudly be sourcing only Non-GMO crops. To learn more about obtaining and maintaining Non-GMO Project Verification visit here:

Why would a tea company want to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
With corn being one of the most ubiquitous GMOs on the market, it’s no wonder we’re finding it in animal feed, gasoline, biodegradable plastics, and teabags. The teabags we use for our Original, Gourmet, and Wellness lines are made of natural abaca fiber. Abaca, also known as Manila hemp, is a species of banana that is native to the Philippines. This hardy plant has historically been used in making ropes, twines, and many specialized paper products including teabags. We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing high quality ingredients and our packaging materials are equally as important.

If you are already USDA Organic, why do you need to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
While all of the tea we source meets USDA Organic standards, it is also important to be Non-GMO Project Verified. The organic standard does not allow farmers to plant genetically modified crops. However, it does not require ongoing testing to confirm that cross-contamination has not occurred. Having both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the gold standard when looking for products that are free from pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified plants.

Read our press release about being the first tea company to earn the Non-GMO Project Verified label here.

Fair Trade Month Recipe: Orange Spice Tea Banana Bread Muffins


October is Fair Trade Month and we’re celebrating #FairMoments with Fair Trade USA. As consumers, we create Fair Moments by incorporating Fair Trade Certified ingredients and products into our every day lives. Fair Trade Certified products, like tea, protect and improve the lives of farmers and workers by creating funds for programs that provide education, healthcare, and safety standards.
Find your own Fair Moments with this recipe that is chock full of Fair Trade ingredients. These banana bread muffins are sweet and satisfying with a touch of orange spice, perfect for on-the-go breakfast or snacking!

Orange Spice Banana Bread Muffins

– 1/2 cup water
– 6 heaping tsp Orange Spice Black Loose Leaf tea
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1/4 cup Fair Trade dark brown sugar
– 3/4 cup Fair Trade white sugar
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 3 very ripe Fair Trade bananas, mashed
– 2 eggs
– 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
– optional: chopped walnuts

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, and add loose tea leaves.
3. Steep tea for at least  5 minutes, and strain the tea leaves out of the water.
4. In the saucepan, combine steeped tea, the brown and white sugars, and butter.
5. Place saucepan back on stove over medium heat, stir until butter and sugars have combined. Set aside to cool.
6. Mix yogurt and baking soda in large mixing bowl, let stand for 5 minutes.
7. In the large mixing bowl, combine cooled tea and sugar mixture with yogurt. Add the eggs and gently mix.
8. Gently mix in the mashed bananas.
9. Place liners in muffin pan and fill each 1/2 way with batter.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Makes approximately 21 muffins.

10 Tips to Live an Organic Lifestyle

Organic Harvest Month may be coming to an end, but there are so many ways to continue celebrating and supporting organic products year-round! These days, you can find organic certification on almost any kind of household product, from bedding and clothing, to beauty, bath, and cleaning supplies. But, adapting a more organic lifestyle doesn’t only apply to purchasing products, but is also demonstrated in reducing waste and recycling or re-using the things we no longer need. Little lifestyle changes can have big long-term effects on reducing waste in landfills and the presence of harsh chemicals, toxins, and synthetic materials in our lives, resulting in a healthier you and a healthier environment.

Here are some of our favorite simple ways to transition to a more organic lifestyle:

1. Make your own cleaning products and dump the toxic, chemical stuff. Try tea for window cleaning!
2. Donate clothes you don’t wear and make cleaning rags out of old, damaged clothes instead of throwing them away.
3. Throw the contents of your tea bag in your garden with the compost, your plants will thank you!
4. Wear organic cotton. You can find socks, sweaters, leggings, t-shirts, hats, and much more available in organic fabrics. Buying organic clothing supports agriculture that maintains healthy soils and protects the environment.
5. Make a pledge to cut your environmental impact by carpooling or biking to work one day a week (or more).
6. Small changes make a difference! Try making locally sourced, organic meals once a week.
7. Use a little organic olive oil or coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of buying lotions made with chemicals and synthetics.
8. Start shopping for organic cosmetics, body, and hair care products.
9. Better yet, MAKE your own organic cosmetics.
10. Support organic brands that you love to ensure that organic products stay on the shelves and become the new standard!

10 Tips for Eating Organic Foods


Food is such an important part of our lives. It provides us with essential nutrients and energy to get us through the day and the act of eating can bring us a myriad of pleasures from exploring new flavors, to unwinding in the kitchen, or sharing meals with friends and family. Because food has such a significant presence in our life, it is so vital to know exactly what we’re consuming. Organic certification ensures that a product has met the standards of the USDA for organic production, meaning no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs, or irradiation. When you buy organic products and food, you are voicing your support of farming practices that contribute to a healthier environment and you! The more organic products we purchase, the closer we get to eliminating harmful farming practices that leach the soil and contaminate our water sources, creating a more sustainable and healthier Earth.

Here are some simple ways to begin eating more organic foods:

  1. Buy organic tea! Unlike apples or greens, tea cannot be washed before you drink it. Drinking organic tea means that you’re not sipping on pesticides and chemicals.
  2. Try many organic teas (we’ve got over 80!) to find your favorite. Once you find what you like, it will be difficult to go back to conventional teas.
  3. Look up the “dirty dozen” and make an effort to only buy these items when they’re certified organic.
  4. Buy local organic produce and find creative ways to preserve them such as freezing, pickling, or dehydrating when they’re out of season. You’ll be grateful to have local, sustainable produce year-round.
  5. Shop at your local farmers market, co-op, or sign up for a CSA. Supporting local organic farms gets you access to the freshest and best fruits and vegetables of the season and contributes to your local economy. Plus, they often provide you with some great recipe suggestions each week!
  6. Prioritize switching to organic milk and dairy products. Organic dairy does not contain artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides.
  7. Grow your own indoor organic herb garden.
  8. Try cooking with organic tea as a way to accent new organic meal and dessert recipes. (Check out our blog for some suggestions.)
  9. Skip eating out and save money by making healthy organic meals.
  10. Swap out bottled sodas for organic iced tea (try Classic Black or Blackberry Hibiscus). It’s calorie free!

10 Ways Organic Farming is Better for the Environment

Organic Harvest Month 2.jpg

Since 1989, our core company values have revolved around creating products that are sustainable and healthy for the environment. This means partnering with organic tea estates across the globe with the same goals in mind. We’re proud to work with tea gardens that cultivate in ways that do not harm the environment or its surrounding ecosystem, utilizing the synergistic way that biodiversity aids in the growth of organic tea.

Here are some of the best ways organic agriculture impacts the environment:

  1. Organic cultivation of tea is better for local wildlife. The Soil Association, an international organization for organic cultivation, notes that a typical organic field has five times as many wild plants, 57 percent more animal species, and 44 percent more birds than a conventionally cultivated farm. Conventional synthetic herbicides and pesticides often kill non-target animals, plants, and insects.


    A peacock roams freely through a tea estate in India.

  2. Organic farming is sustainable and nurtures the natural biodiversity and structure within its soils and surrounding environment, while also reducing the use of non-renewable resources.
  3. Instead of depleting soils nutrients with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic farming strengthens soil by composting, cover cropping, and crop rotation.
  4. Organic farming helps keep water supplies clean of toxic run off and chemicals.
  5. Organic agriculture combats the greenhouse effect and global warming with organic soil’s ability to hold carbon, keeping it out of the air.
  6. Organic agriculture relies on preventative measures to combat pests and invasive weeds, not chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  7. Organic standards prohibit clearing of primary ecosystems for further cultivation.
  8. Organic farming typically produces less waste because it relies less on external resources and more on renewable resources.
  9. Organic practices support and protect bees and other pollinators important to crop growth because it decreases exposure to toxic pesticides, encouraging natural habitats and biodiversity.
  10. Buying organic will increase demand and “lead to a reversal of conventional farming practices” which will have long term effects on the land and our health.

9 Health Benefits of Organic Farming

Organic Harvest Month

Happy Organic Harvest Month!

The USDA defines organic as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.”

As a manufacturer of consumable goods, it is of the utmost importance that our product is safe and the highest quality available. This is why, since 1989, we have been committed to sourcing only certified organic teas and herbs for our products.

Throughout September we’ll be celebrating Organic Harvest Month by sharing our top reasons to consume and support organic agriculture and live an organic lifestyle.

Here are some of our favorite health benefits of organic:

  1. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers are used. Organic ensures that foods are grown without the use of these harmful substances, some of which are known to cause cancer.
  2. Organic farming reduces long time exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers, for farmers, workers, and consumers which can affect the body’s ability to eliminate toxins.
    COT 2
    Tea workers in India.
  3. Organic food is free of artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, trans fats, enhancers, stabilizers, fillers, sweeteners or other additives.
  4. Studies show that organic foods are more nutritious and higher in antioxidants because they are grown on more nutrient rich soil.
  5. Eating organic fruits and vegetables could increase your antioxidant intake by 20-40%.
  6. Organic farming ensures that food is not subject to any artificial human intervention or genetic modification.
  7. Diseases, pests, and weeds are managed through good soil health for natural plant resistance, selection for stronger plants, crop rotation, natural predators, and beneficial insects.
  8. Organic food cannot be irradiated. Irradiation causes changes to both macro and micronutrients in foods and creates free radicals.
  9. Unlike conventional methods, antibiotics, pathogens, or hormones are used in raising livestock. Organic livestock have higher animal welfare standards which lower levels of pathogens present in meat.

Vegan Earl Grey Lemon Cheesecake

egcheese1.jpgWe couldn’t help ourselves, we just had to try making this Vegan Earl Grey Lemon Cheesecake from Gluten Free Vegan Pantry! As tea lovers with a pretty strong sweet tooth, this cheesecake hits all of our weak spots. On top of being simply delicious, it’s vegan, raw, gluten-free, and considered to be pretty darn healthy!

We hardly changed a thing from the original recipe, only substituting strawberries for the blueberries and using the contents of 3 of our Earl Grey tea bags instead of loose leaf tea.

Find the whole recipe and helpful tips for great results here:
Vegan Earl Grey Lemon Cheesecake by Gluten Free Vegan Pantry