Woman dies after drinking tea from San Francisco Chinatown store

San Francisco health officials encourage anyone who purchased tea from the Chinatown location to stop consuming it.

One of two people who became ill after drinking herbal teas bought at a store in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood has died, city public health officials said Monday.

If you've purchased tea from the Sun Wing Wo Trading Company, health officials are asking that you dispose of the products immediately.

Yu-Ping Xie of San Francisco died at California Pacific Medical Center's Pacific Campus on Saturday, officials said. Both Xie and the other victim experienced weakness and abnormal heart rhythms requiring resuscitation within an hour of drinking the tea.

Another victim, a man in his 30s, has recovered and was released from the hospital on March 12th.

A newly published study in the The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, which involved 957 Chinese people who were over 55 years old, also showed that regular consumption of the drink is linked to lower risk for cognitive decline.

The culprit was a plant-based toxin called Aconite or Aconitum, a.k.a. monkshood, wolf's bane, devil's helmet, or blue rocket.

Each patient bought different blends of medicinal teas that may have had a common ingredient containing aconite, Kagan said. The teas had several ingredients, and the ingredients that were common to both tea mixtures are now being tested, authorities said.

After the tea poisoning, environmental health inspectors visited the herbalist and removed the leaves consumed by the patients from the shop.

Raw aconite roots are generally toxic but may used after adequate processing. Its flowers are toxic and while they become safe when processed, incidents of food poisoning linked to aconite continue to occur. "The proprietor is fully cooperating with the Health Department to trace the source of the toxin and ensure safety for future customers".

  • Joanne Flowers