Tea’s secrets revealed – by kid detectives.

New York Times recognizes the work of some teenage sleuths in finding what’s really in that fancy herbal tea:

Catherine C. Gamble, a senior who will be attending Harvard this fall; Rohan Kirpekar, who will be attending Columbia University; and Grace Young, a rising sophomore, used DNA barcoding, a kind of genetic fingerprinting, to test 70 tea products and 60 herbal products to see what was in them. Four percent of the 70 tea products they tested and 35 percent of the herbal products had unlisted ingredients, including white goosefoot, a weed; Taiwanese cheesewood, an ornamental tree; and, most often, chamomile and plants closely resembling parsley.

“It is significant that consumers know what they are buying,” Ms. Gamble said.

The three students are part of what seems to be a growing tradition at Trinity: teaming up with scientists at the Rockefeller University to use new DNA testing to examine popular items.

This year the students undertook the study of tea, the world’s most popular drink. Their findings do not feel quite as alarming as those in the sushi affair, which revealed that Mozambique tilapia was masquerading as white tuna.

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