Where Gluten Can Be Hidden: Tea

Of all the places that gluten can be hiding, would you expect tea? Me neither! This is one area I did not look into as a celiac, and I am very sure this was one of the products I was consuming daily that had me cross contaminated with gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. Hidden sources of gluten can have substantial consequences for anyone suffering from celiac disease (also spelt coeliac disease) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (also known as gluten intolerance). Even just one grain of gluten can provoke gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, joint pain, migraines or headaches, brain fog and a long list of other health symptoms. Doing regular ingredient list checks and asking for preparation details at restaurants can help to limit any cross contamination of gluten.

Tea leaves have gluten?

Camellia Sinensis plant

So what’s the deal with tea and gluten contamination? Well, first things first – Most teas come from the leaves off of the Camellia Sinensis plant. This plant is naturally gluten free, it is when added flavourings and other ingredients are added that can put this food source off of the gluten free list.

Most flavourings used contain barley seeds such as Boricha which is a type of Korean tea. Any teas that are ‘malted’ may contain gluten as malt is commonly made from barley. Fun fact, the FDA labeling laws does not declare barely, rye and malt as allergens on labels here in Canada and the USA. On top of that, anything containing “flavouring” in the ingredient list can also be a hidden source of gluten. Be sure to contact the manufacturing company to be sure the flavouring does not contain any hidden gluten ingredients like barley malt. However, if the flavouring does contain wheat, this has to be declared on the label as per the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Therefore, be sure to ALWAYS read the labels of anything you are buying from the store, especially if it is not labeled “gluten free” or have a certified gluten free symbol on the packaging.

Herbal teas may contain flavourings or other ingredients and grains containing gluten. Matcha tea which is a ground up green tea, can sometimes have wheat added as a filler. As mentioned before, start a regular practice of ALWAYS checking the labels of foods you want to purchase to see if it is containing any hidden gluten.

What’s the deal with tea bags?

You may have heard that tea bags can potentially contain hidden sources of gluten, unfortunately, that would be correct. Some tea bags can be sealed with a paste that is made with wheat. Therefore, if you like to use tea bags, I would contact the tea company and ask how the tea bags are sealed. Another option, is switching to using loose leaf tea and having a tea filter for steeping, but make sure there are no gluten containing ingredients in the loose leaf tea.

Can cross contamination happen with tea?

It most certainly can, cross-contamination is a common cause of gluten contamination in tea. This can start a the factories they are processed at. If an ingredient with gluten was on the line before the tea you will be consuming it could potentially transfer over into the tea. Another common place of cross-contamination with tea is at the cafe or at home. If the server, a friend or family member at the cafe or even at home uses the same spoon or container that was just used for something with gluten and uses it in your tea, this can potentially transfer gluten into your tea as well. To avoid this from happening, do not share your cups, tea filters and spoons with someone who is not gluten free. Also, be sure the equipment you use to prepare and drink your tea is completely clean.

What tea is gluten free?

After all of that, you may be thinking there are no teas left that are safe for someone with celiac disease and gluten free. However! The good news, there are plenty of options. Sticking to teas made from simple ingredients, such as black, oolong, green, and rooibos tea are all naturally gluten free, so long as they do not have any other added ingredients as mentioned above. Also, using loose leaf tea will take away the possibility of gluten in the tea bags. It is also in my opinion, a better quality and more flavourful tea. On top of that, using a loose leaf tea will help to decrease the environmental waste of the tea bags. Here is a chart to make things a bit more simple in deciding about what tea to get:

Naturally Gluten-FreeMay Contain GlutenContains Gluten
Pure black teaFlavored teaBarley seed tea
Pure green teaChai teaBoricha tea (Korean tea)
Pure white teaHerbal teaMalted tea
Pure oolong teaMatcha tea
Pure puerh teaSprouted seed tea
Pure rooibos tea

All in all, tea is a great beverage to be enjoyed. Follow what was mentioned above and you should be good to go to have a great gluten free cuppa!

If you are curious what tea companies contain and do not contain gluten? Click here for the full post.

Signing off until next time,

LEW xxx 🙂

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References:

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-allergensgluten-free-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/food-allergen-labeling-and-consumer-protection-act-2004-questions-and-answers#:~:text=FALCPA%20is%20an%20amendment%20to,manner%20described%20by%20the%20law.


Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are looking for a chocolate chip cookie that is fantastic with your milk of choice, these are for you! The cocao nibs give these soft cookies a nice little crunch for your taste buds.

Ingredients:

1 Cup gluten free self raising flour
3/4 Cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 Cup of sucanat, cane sugar, or coconut sugar (use 1/2 cup of sugar if you prefer your cookies being sweeter)
2 flax eggs – 2 Tbsp of ground flax seeds mixed with 6 Tbsp of water
1/4 Cup melted vegan butter (I used Melt)
1 Tbsp macadamia milk or other vegan milk of choice
1/2 cup choc chips (I used Enjoy Life chunks)
1 Tbsp cocao nibs

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together all dry ingredients: gluten free self raising flour, almond flour, cinnamon, and sucanat.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together all wet ingredients: flax eggs, vegan butter, and dairy free milk.
  3. Now combine wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until you get a cookie dough consistency.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and cocao nibs, and mix again until all combined.
  5. Use a tablespoon and scoop up the batter. You can roll the batter in your hands then place it on the cookie sheet and pat it down or scoop the batter out of the tablespoon and place right onto the cookie sheet.
  6. Put 12 cookies evenly apart on the cookie sheet – I did 3 across and 4 down the tray.
  7. Bake at 350oF for 10 min or until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown.

BAKING TIP: Cookies will continue cooking for a little while after they are out of the oven, if you want a softer cookie take them out when the bottom of the cookies are just turning golden. If you want a crunchier cookie, take them out when the top of the cookies are just turning golden brown.


Life Update: Why did I take a break? What is upcoming on this blog?

This will be my third time trying to find a way to type out what I’d like to say and include in this post. But considering I have not posted anything on this blog since September, I may be a bit rusty. Let’s just say, I have had a lot going on in the last few months that I needed to take a step back to collect my thoughts.

Over the last year since starting this blog, I have been having an ongoing struggle and mind battle of if anyone would want to hear what I have to say or write about, and in turn, this has deflated my confidence. What started all of this was honestly the engagement levels on all of my platforms, or lack there of I should say. Instagram’s forever changing algorithm has not only deflated my confidence but many other’s as well, like a blown up duck in a bathtub with an alligator. I was noticing my engagement going from amazing numbers to absolutely nothing in the matter of weeks, and I had changed nothing about my content or posting schedule. I feel I can go on and on about this, so I may save this for a blog post on it’s own. Long story short, I found myself lost in counting the numbers instead of trying to get information out into the world to help someone. This was the moment I knew I needed to take a step back from social media. So what have I been doing since September and why am I starting to write again you may ask? Well, let’s just say I have had some health conditions along with some “a-ha” moments that have encouraged me to step outside of my comfort levels and give this a go again.

As you may know from following me on instagram, YouTube or this blog, you will know I just passed my 4 year anniversary of being diagnosed with celiac disease. To this day, I am continuing to heal my gut from the damages of the disease in my small intestine. I will have symptoms pop up here and there but they are starting to not be as frequent (unless I get cross contaminated again). Some of the on going symptoms that I seem to be having is a faint sharp pain in my upper right abdomen and acid reflux, but not the burning kind, it is the annoying something is stuck in your throat all the time acid reflux. This seems to be triggered with certain foods I eat and what kind of stress I am under. What foods are those? I have a small idea but I’m not 100% sure. There are some smaller symptoms but those two are the most irritating at the moment. Back in September, I knew the answer to having a clear mind was to heal my gut so I could think straight about everything else. Therefore, this has been a top priority for me not just in the last 4 years but will be ongoing into my future as well.

Next, I have had old injuries come back with a vengeance. For the last 2-3 years, I have gone from working out 5 days a week to very quickly and drastically dropping to zero days a week (excluding a few hikes and hockey games once in a while). I did this truly because I had no energy from my body trying to heal my gut and have my body not be in an autoimmune flare 24/7. The last few months I have been focusing more on my body’s strength, mobility and flexibility equally. After all, I am a Certified Athletic Therapist and should probably start taking my own advice at some point. However, something I have taken a notice to, is I will feel better both gut and body wise but I’ll head to the gym and go through a program that I used to do on a regular basis and I’ll be knocked out sore and tired for 1-2 weeks after. In the last few months I have been constructing a treatment plan for myself to slowly get back to what I was able to accomplish in the past but better than before. This is something that I am excited to use myself as an experiment and share with you the findings and outcomes. I’d like to bring you along the journey to maybe spark some inspiration in yourself or someone you know who may be feeling the same way.

Back in September 2020 I decided to start working with a lovely woman by the name of Stella. She has been helping me organize my thoughts and what I’d like to work towards into the coming future. With her I have discovered that I would like to move my practice over to a more active caseload rather than all hands on treatment. The reason for this, is not only because my body is hurting from being a manual therapist but also because I know deep down that they real way to get people pain free is by teaching them how to move their bodies correctly. Having an equal balance of mobility, flexibility, pliability and strength is very important to maintaining a healthy body. I have been also going back and forth in my head about going back to school or not. I am feeling very grounded with the decision to not go back to school at this time and instead improve my treatment techniques at the clinic and start putting focus into this blog.

Stella and I have put together a purpose statement for myself, “I teach people how to care for their bodies through the science of movement, mindfulness and nutrition. With this blog, I plan to do just that.

Now, with that being said, I am going to be starting to make consistent weekly posts onto this blog. I’ll be writing and sharing my experience as a celiac and what I’ve learned, information on athletic therapy and the human body, health and wellness, exercises and fitness, lifestyle tips, and some of my own gluten free recipes that I have made and would love to share with you all. I may even throw in some random plant facts in there as well, because we all know how much I love my house plants. Basically I will be sharing everything I love to spend my time learning about and my journey back to being better than I was before my diagnosis of celiac disease.

Follow along and share this with anyone who may be interested, and I’ll see you here once a week. Until my next blog post, have the best week!

LEW xxx