Why is Tea Not Vegan?

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Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Scott

Exploring the world of tea reveals a vast array of options, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors. While many teas are plant-based and suitable for vegans and vegetarians, it’s important to note that some teas may contain animal products or derivatives. 

This is primarily due to certain traditional processing methods or the addition of flavorings.

Different Types of Tea & How Some “May” Contain Animal Products 

Let’s take a look at a variety and teas, as we consider what some teas are not vegan. One example is matcha (but typically NOT the high quality ceremonial matcha). Traditionally, matcha is produced by grinding shade-grown green tea leaves into a fine powder. However, some lower-quality matcha brands may contain additives such as milk powder or sweeteners, which are derived from animals.

It’s important to check the ingredient list or look for specifically labeled vegan or plant-based matcha if you prefer to avoid animal products.

Another type of tea that may contain animal products are some blends of chai tea. Chai tea often consists of a combination of black tea, various spices, and sweeteners. However, certain chai tea blends may include ingredients like honey or milk-based powders to enhance flavor and creaminess.

Some Tea Blends May Include Ingredients Like Milk-Based Powders

Again, it’s important to carefully read the ingredients or choose specifically labeled vegan or plant-based chai teas to ensure they align with your dietary preferences.

When exploring different types of tea, it’s recommended to research and select brands that provide transparent ingredient information or certifications indicating their vegan or vegetarian status. By being mindful of the ingredients and production methods, you can make informed choices and enjoy a diverse selection of teas that align with your dietary needs and values.

Types of Tea That Are Suitable For Vegan Diets

Vegan diets can be wonderfully complemented by a wide variety of tea options, as many types of tea are plant-based and free from animal products. 

Here are a few examples of teas that are suitable for vegan diets, along with their potential health benefits:

  1. Green Tea: Green tea is a popular choice for its numerous health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote heart health. Green tea is also known to boost metabolism and support weight management. Its light and refreshing taste make it a versatile choice for both hot and iced tea.
  2. Herbal Tea (Tisanes): Herbal teas offer a vast selection of flavors and potential health benefits. They are typically made from a combination of dried herbs, flowers, fruits, and spices. Some common herbal teas include chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, and ginger. Each herbal tea has its own unique properties, such as chamomile for relaxation, peppermint for digestive health, hibiscus for blood pressure management, and ginger for its anti-inflammatory effects.
  3. Rooibos Tea: Rooibos tea, also known as red tea, is an herbal tea derived from the Aspalathus linearis plant. It has a naturally sweet and nutty flavor and is often consumed as an alternative to black tea. Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants and is known for its potential anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. It’s also caffeine-free, making it a suitable choice for those looking for a comforting, non-stimulating beverage.
  4. White Tea: White tea is one of the least processed tea varieties, made from young tea leaves and buds. It has a delicate flavor and is known for its high antioxidant content. White tea may help protect the skin from aging, support oral health, and promote cardiovascular health. Its subtle taste and low caffeine levels make it a gentle and soothing choice for tea enthusiasts.

These are just a few examples of teas that are suitable for vegan diets.

herbal teas
Herbal Teas Offer a Vast Selection of Flavors & Potential Health Benefits

Ingredients Used in Teas That Might Not be Vegan Friendly

While many teas are naturally vegan-friendly, some tea products may contain ingredients that are not suitable for those following a vegan diet. It’s essential to be aware of these potential non-vegan ingredients when selecting teas.

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Here are a few examples:

  1. Honey: Honey is a common sweetener used in some tea blends and can be derived from bees. As bees are involved in the production process, honey is not considered vegan. It’s important to check the ingredient list or look for teas specifically labeled as vegan or honey-free if you prefer to avoid this ingredient.
  2. Milk Powder: Some tea blends, particularly those marketed as creamy or milky, may contain milk powder. This is added to enhance the flavor and texture of the tea. As milk is an animal product, teas containing milk powder are not vegan. Look for plant-based alternatives, such as teas made with nut milks or labeled as vegan, to enjoy a similar creamy experience.
  3. Gelatin: Gelatin, derived from animal collagen, is occasionally used in tea bags to seal or bind them. Gelatin helps maintain the shape and integrity of the tea bag during brewing. Tea bags that contain gelatin are not suitable for vegans. Opt for teas with plant-based or biodegradable tea bags, or choose loose leaf teas that eliminate the need for tea bags altogether.

It’s important to carefully read ingredient labels and choose teas specifically labeled as vegan or plant-based. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegan-friendly teas available, including pure teas like green, black, and herbal teas, as well as specifically formulated vegan blends.

By being mindful of the ingredients, you can enjoy a diverse range of teas that align with your vegan lifestyle.

Different Ways to Make Vegan “Teas” at Home with Natural Ingredients 

Creating vegan teas at home with natural ingredients is a wonderful way to explore flavors, experiment with different combinations, and enjoy a personalized tea experience. Keep in mind that these are not considered “true” teas (such as those derived from camellia sinensis) but we still put these into the tea category for the sake of useful vegan-friendly alternatives.

Here are a few methods to make vegan teas using natural ingredients:

  1. Herbal Infusions: Herbal teas, also known as tisanes, are made by steeping various dried herbs, flowers, and fruits in hot water. You can create your own herbal infusion by combining ingredients such as chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, or hibiscus. Adjust the quantities based on your desired flavor intensity and steep them in hot water for a few minutes. You can also enhance the taste with a touch of natural sweeteners like agave syrup or stevia, if desired.
  2. Fruit Infusions: Create vibrant and refreshing fruit-infused teas by combining fresh or dried fruits with hot water. Fruits like berries, citrus fruits, melons, or tropical fruits can be used. Chop or mash the fruits and add them to hot water, allowing them to steep for a few minutes. Strain the liquid and enjoy the naturally sweet and flavorful infusion. You can also add herbs like mint or basil to enhance the taste.
  3. Spice Blends: Experiment with aromatic spice blends to create unique and warming tea combinations. Common spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, or star anise can be mixed together and steeped in hot water. Adjust the ratios based on your preference for a spicier or milder flavor. These spice blends can be enjoyed on their own or combined with other ingredients like black or green tea leaves for added complexity.
  4. Floral Teas: Explore the delicate and fragrant world of floral teas by infusing dried flowers such as rose petals, jasmine, lavender, or chrysanthemum. Steep the flowers in hot water and let their natural aromas and flavors infuse into the tea. Floral teas offer a soothing and sensory experience, perfect for relaxation or as a calming bedtime beverage.

These are just a few examples of how you can make vegan teas at home using natural ingredients. Feel free to experiment with different combinations and ratios to find your favorite flavors.

Remember to adjust the steeping time and temperature based on the ingredients used, as some may require longer or shorter infusion times.

Tea Companies That Have Vegan Options Available

Many tea companies recognize the growing demand for vegan-friendly products and have responded by offering a wide range of vegan options. These companies understand the importance of catering to diverse dietary preferences and ensuring their products align with ethical and sustainable practices.

Here are a few examples of tea companies that offer vegan options:

  1. Art of Tea: Art of Tea is a tea company that offers a wide range of vegan-friendly teas. They understand the importance of catering to individuals following a vegan lifestyle and have made efforts to ensure their teas are free from any animal-derived ingredients. Their tea blends are carefully crafted using high-quality, plant-based ingredients, making them suitable for vegans. Art of Tea provides a variety of options, including pure teas like green, black, and herbal teas, as well as unique vegan blends that combine different flavors and ingredients to create a delightful tea-drinking experience.
  2. Pukka Herbs: Pukka Herbs is a well-known tea brand that specializes in organic herbal teas. They have a dedicated range of vegan teas that are certified organic, using only natural and ethically sourced ingredients. Pukka Herbs’ vegan teas come in a variety of flavors, including chamomile, peppermint, turmeric, and blends designed for specific wellness purposes.
  3. Yogi Tea: Yogi Tea is another popular brand that offers a wide selection of herbal and wellness teas. They have a range of vegan teas that are free from animal products and GMOs. Yogi Tea combines traditional Ayurvedic wisdom with high-quality organic ingredients to create flavorful and beneficial tea blends.
  4. Numi Organic Tea: Numi Organic Tea is committed to providing sustainably sourced, organic, and vegan-friendly teas. They offer a diverse range of tea varieties, including herbal teas, green teas, and specialty blends. Numi’s teas are crafted with pure ingredients and come in eco-friendly packaging, reflecting their dedication to environmental consciousness.
  5. Traditional Medicinals: Traditional Medicinals focuses on herbal teas that promote wellness and traditional herbal knowledge. They offer a selection of vegan teas that are made with high-quality organic herbs and botanicals. From soothing chamomile to invigorating peppermint, Traditional Medicinals provides a range of vegan options to suit various tastes and needs.

These tea companies are just a few examples of the many brands that offer vegan-friendly tea options. 


When purchasing teas, it’s always a good idea to read the labels and look for specific vegan certifications or indications to ensure they meet your dietary preferences. 

With the increasing popularity of vegan diets, the availability of vegan teas continues to expand, providing tea enthusiasts with a wide variety of options to enjoy while staying true to their values.

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