Have you ever wondered what is actually in your tea? Well, three New York City high school students — Catherine Gamble, Rohan Kirpekar, and Grace Young — discovered that what's on the label isn't always what's in the brew, says Scientific American's Cynthia Graber. As part of the Urban Barcode Project set up by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center, the three students — aided by professional researchers — extracted and amplified DNA from 70 teas and 60 herbal teas sold by 33 different companies, originating in 17 countries, Graber says. Once the tea DNA was sequenced, the students compared the sequences with known sequences listed in the GenBank database, and found that 4 percent of the teas contained additional plant materials that weren't listed on their labels, and that a third of the herbal teas included unlisted products like the weeds bluegrass and white goosefoot. According to the study the students published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, four of the herbal mixes also contained relatives of parsley, and seven had chamomile in them, not listed on the label, Graber adds.
Would Anyone Care for a Spot of Tea?
Jul 22, 2011