Organic Tea Trends
Whether or not to purchase organic tea is a tricky subject in the world of tea. Just what makes a tea organic?
First, the general meaning of the word organic refers to growing a product without the use of conventional pesticides, chemical treatments, ionizing radiation, and soil that is free of the same. Being grown as organic doesn’t necessarily refer to the quality of the actual product nor post pollutants during processing or packaging.
There is no international standard of being organic. There are hundreds of agencies world wide that certify products as organic, and all of them have different regulations and standards. Being certified organic in one area of the world doesn’t automatically mean that it would pass mustard with an agency in a different region.
Even though a tea plantation may incorporate organic farming practices, take great care in its postproduction processes to ensure quality, and yield a product that is far superior in the marketplace, it may not have a ‘certified organic’ stamp on it. It is a large financial investment and a very long process for a plantation to receive organic certification. Some smaller plantations simply don’t have the means to jump through the bureaucratic hoops to be certified although they have a product that would qualify.
Western demand for organic teas is increasing however, so more and more tea plantations are moving in the direction of being certified organic and are in the course of ‘organic conversion’.
My thoughts on this issue are that it basically comes down to personal preference, taste, and building relationships. Although there are very fine organic teas available, simply choosing a tea because it is labeled organic does not carry with it any guarantee of quality tea. More importantly, I recommend purchasing tea from growers, distributors and/or retailers you have a relationship with and trust. After all, your experience with the tea and your enjoyment of it begins there.