“Natural Flavors”

In my quest for health and wellness, I’m trying to understand everything I put in my body and what’s an issue for me. I don’t eat a lot of things that have an ingredient list, but one thing I do consume a lot is hot tea. I love it, I think it’s beneficial for my health, and has antioxidant properties.

I ran across a huge sale on Tazo teas recently and was thrilled, so I stocked up! I bought several boxes and have been enjoying them, but upon further investigation, I’d like to know in the ingredients what they include in “natural flavors.” My first thought is if you add something back in, it isn’t natural, and second, this ingredient (I don’t like calling it that, it’s more like a category) can include a whole mess of stuff. So I emailed Tazo.

My email to Tazo on January 31:


I am an avid tea drinker and LOVE Tazo teas, however, I am discovering some allergies to certain spices/additives. Can someone please provide a breakdown of the “natural flavors” listed in most Tazo teas, or what makes up that category? I know that “natural flavors” typically encompasses different things. I realize they may vary by kind, but I really appreciate your help.

Thanks so much,

Linds Swanson

Their reply on January 31:

Hello Lindsay,

Thank you for taking the time to write.  Your search for enlightenment into the world of Tazo is to be admired.  With this first step on the path, may you find answers you seek.

While we understand that some customers may have a need to know specific ingredient information prior to consuming a product, unfortunately we are unable to provide more in-depth information than what is currently available in the ingredient statement. If there are concerns about this product possibly containing an ingredient that you do not wish to consume, we would recommend that product not be consumed.

Thanks again for writing us.  If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.



A Tea Enthusiast Advisor

Seems pretty corporate to me, no? Honestly, I guess I wasn’t that shocked, but as soon as my Tazo teas are gone, I’m not buying anymore. Things like this are frustrating for me, when I’m trying to pinpoint and solve issues with my health and body (do the “natural flavors” include nightshades?). Furthermore, if you won’t tell a consumer what you’re putting in a product, it’s a red flag for me. I think I have a right to know what I’m eating and drinking, right, especially when I’m paying for it?

So long, Tazo!

16 thoughts on ““Natural Flavors”

  1. Natural Flavors are a tricky thing, because, for the most part, they are made by companies whose sole business is making flavors. Since they are generally under 2% of a product, they don’t have to be fully “explained” in terms of what they contain, and so flavor companies rely on that to product their trade secrets. You can’t patent a recipe, and if they revealed every ingredient/quantity, then most would be copied out of business by one big, low-cost producer. In dealing with them, what I’ve had to do is say things like “I want a flavor that does not contain x, y, z etc” but I don’t know of any that will actually provide exact specs for their formula. This applies not just to consumers, but even to their customers (ie Tazo may not even be able to get that information from whoever they buy their flavors from, but don’t want to admit it). That said, if you were to list things that you were trying to avoid, they should be able to confirm whether or not those are present, and obviously standard big-8 allergen disclosures still apply. It takes a little extra work on their part, but I always do that when a customer requests it.

    • Thanks for the insight Chris, this is great info! I’ll try the other method next time, just don’t feel like they would tell me if something is included if I didn’t specifically ask for it, and sometimes even very small amounts can be bothersome. That being said-this was all prompted by me trying to find out if paprika of all things (nightshade) was in there! Then upon more research I saw other things I don’t or won’t eat.

  2. I have a similar issue with Good Earth. They changed their packaging a little while ago, and what used to be called ‘natural flavor’ is now called ‘artificial flavor’. I liked the tea so much that I was originally willing to overlook the lack of detail. The word artificial put em over the edge, and I wrote to them to let them know I was disappointed, and never received a reply. Now I’m in search of a similar tasting tea….

    • So disappointing and frustrating. That’s a big part of my issue is the non-disclosure, or the things that aren’t disclosed suddenly “change” to no longer being natural. Ugh! Surprised to hear that about Good Earth.

  3. Pingback: My Mommy Mind | My Wise Mom

  4. This is a sad day for me as a lover of tea! I live in the Chicago area and I am a frequent shopper at Adagio, David’s Tea, Argo and Tevanna….not to mention all the “wonderful” teas I buy at the grocery store. No More! If a company cannot give FULL disclosure to all the ingredients in their products I am done. I went to Adagio’s Facebook page and asked them what the “natural orange flavoring” in their blood orange herbal tea and this is the response they gave me:

    Adagio Teas: Happy to help, Carolyn. Our flavors are considered natural but are not made from essences or extracts as they do not last long when applied to blended teas. Instead, these flavors are made of other compounds that mimic natural flavors. The human body cannot distinguish between the two. The “nature identical” flavorings we use are standard in the tea industry. We hope this helps.

    If you have other questions, please feel free to shoot our customer service team an email at info@adagio.com. All customer inquiries are answered within 24 hours.

    This was my reply:

    thank you for your quick response. However, you didn’t answer my question at all. Instead of telling me what these “natural flavors” were, you simply told me what they are not. What are the “other compounds” that mimic natural flavors? If those compounds are chemicals then I beg to differ, our bodies can in fact distinguish between the two. Chemicals have profound effects on our bodies. Standard or not in the tea industry. I just want to know exactly what I am putting in my body if I drink these “natural flavors”.
    This is unacceptable.

  5. I no longer purchase McCormick products for a similar reason. In inquiring what “spices” were in one of their blends, I was told it was proprietary and I would need to have my doctor contact them. So I’ve switched to purchasing organic-only seasonings that list all components. So long as the majority of consumers purchase products indiscriminately and are sucked in by “natural” labels, the rest of us will have no impact.

      • I was in tea industry for 15 years. According to the FDA if there is 2% or less of additives (natural
        natural artificial or artificial flavors) the product can be called “Natural”. MOST OF THE FLAVORS ARE PRODUCED WITH 2% FLAVOR 98% TEA MIXING RATIO.
        I used to flavor tea and coffee. I would not drink any flavored tea with the exception of ones with blend of spices like Chai ground spices (not liquid), mint with mint leaves .. not liquid mint flavor etc..Anytime there is “natural flavor” listed stay away.

  6. Yes, I had the same question and was thinking about calling Tazo. I should, just to put more pressure on them. But usually, as someone stated, “Natural Flavors” is in almost everything now and it’s used to HIDE stuff like MSG and other “enhancers”. This makes me very angry that our food is being so debased like this. I will no longer buy Tazo either once I discovered this!

  7. You have probably finished up your supply of Tazo tea, but if you have any left, I would return it to them and ask for a refund, stating that you cannot drink anything that is not fully identified.

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