ConsumerLab.com found the amount of tea leaf in a suggested serving of each product to range from 1.38 grams to 3.14 grams, with some larger tea bags actually containing less tea than some smaller bags. In terms of chemical strength, servings yielded 25-86 mg of EGCG, one of the key catechin compounds in green tea and a natural phenol in the flavanol family. The amount of caffeine per serving ranged from 22.7 mg (less than in a can of cola) to 85.8 mg (similar to that in a cup of regular coffee), with decaffeinated teas containing just 5 mg.
ConsumerLab.com also measured the amount of lead, a toxic heavy metal, in each product. Lead is known to be taken up into tea leaves from the environment and can occur in high amounts in tea plants grown near industrial areas and active roadways, such as in certain areas of China. Although the liquid portions of the brewed teas did not contain measurable amounts of lead (i.e., no more than 1.25 mcg per serving), when including the brewed leaves in the analysis, 2-5 mcg of lead was detected per serving in four different products, including an “organic” green tea. Interestingly, measurable lead was not found in decaffeinated green teas or in a Japanese green tea. Most of the teas reviewed likely originated in China.
In a separate product review, ConsumerLab.com set out to find what’s really in a scoop of “protein powder,” and found that some products had much less protein and/or more carbohydrates than expected. Some also contained high qualities of lead. ConsumerLab.com purchased, tested and reviewed the quality of a range of protein powders and drinks used for everything from bodybuilding to dieting. Nutrition Business Journal has reported that Americans spend more than $3 billion each year on sports nutrition powders and formulas.
ConsumerLab.com found problems with the quality of five of 16 protein products it selected for testing and confirmed these findings in a second independent laboratory. One protein powder from a popular brand was missing 16 grams of protein per scoop—the majority of the protein it promised. Instead, it contained an extra 16 grams of carbohydrates (including an extra 3 grams of sugar). An additional powdered meal replacement shake was contaminated with 12.7 mcg of lead per serving (far more than permitted in California without a warning label). Researchers also uncovered a popular protein energy meal with spirulina had an extra 6.7 grams of carbohydrates (including an extra 4 grams of sugar) and an additional 25.7 calories per serving. Additionally, a protein powder from a “GMP certified” facility claiming “0” cholesterol really had 10.2 mg. The report also found another protein supplement claiming 5 mg of cholesterol actually had 14.2 mg.
The cost of an equivalent serving of protein from products approved for quality by ConsumerLab.com ranged from just 61 cents to more than $5. The review tested products made with whey protein (concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates), casein protein, soy protein, rice protein and pea protein.