Organic Chinese tea is a popular drink, but what makes it “organic” and what if anything makes it better than Chinese tea produced with non-organic additives? Good questions. But then why pose bad rhetorical questions and waste a reader’s time?
A little history. Camellia sinensis trees and bushes growing in the wilds of China were the original source of the brew we call Chinese drinking tea. The general area of the Chinese Yunnan and Sichuan provinces and possibly Burma were where the original trees sprang from fertile soil thousands of years ago. They were a spontaneous treat that man didn’t discover for a long time.
These trees were not only true organic sources of Chinese tea, they were uncultivated and survived on the strength of genetic hardiness. They were natural in every sense of the word. It helped that in some cases the leaves of the plant were naturally unappealing to insects, which otherwise would have bedeviled and eaten them.
Then man stumbled on the trees. For many centuries after someone first chewed a leaf and declared it to produce a pleasant sensation in the mouth—made even more palatable by brewing and consuming a drink from the leaves—animal manure and mulch sufficed as fertilizers. The soils were enriched in these organic ways and the already productive trees and bushes produced enough leaves for multiple harvests over a year.
Tea has been around for many centuries, in other words, while synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are relatively new additions to the tea farming scene. Is the tea industry better off for having introduced man-made growth enhancers to tea farms and estates? There we go with another good question.
The answer is not as clear as one might like. Yes, traces of pesticides and chemical fertilizers can be found in some teas from some Chinese tea estates and that is not a good thing. Accumulated traces of such compounds can over time be injurious to human health. However, not all non-organic teas contain the same amounts of chemical residue, depending on the practices of the
commercial farm where the tea was produced. So a blanket indictment of modern tea production is not possible.
What is possible is to declare organic Chinese tea free of all such chemical contamination. Therefore, any concern about negative health effects from an organic Chinese tea is nil. Peace of mind is thus another benefit that comes to a drinker of organic tea.
The other indisputable benefit from an organic tea consumer choosing to buy Chinese tea online or from a shop is that it lets a buyer have a clear conscience about the environment. While the impact of chemicals on the health of a drinker is still unclear, there is no question that farms whose soils are accruing with chemical residue are contributing to ecological worry. The stuff simply doesn’t break down like manure does.
Chinese green tea growers are increasingly turning to organic production, though it is still a minority who do so. Choosing a tea supplier committed to organic Chinese tea—such as Wild & Bare Co. (wildandbare.com) will assuage any concern about the healthfulness of tea in your pantry. Better safe than sorry.