As consumers become more aware of the dangers of chemical farming they are demanding more organic products. This extends to beverages as well as food. Organic tea and organic coffee are widely available.
Organic tea usually carries a higher price tag than non-organics, which begs the questions: Is organic tea really better? How can the average consumer be sure that organic tea meets certain standards?
Is Organic Tea Better?
The answer to the first question is a resounding YES! Tea plants can survive for more than one hundred years and the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides can shorten this life span considerably. So - organic tea is better for the tea farmer because he will have less expense in replacing tea plants.
Organic tea is also better for the consumer. Not only is the tea free from chemical residues, it also tastes better. Tea competitions in China and Taiwan have consistently selected organically grown teas as the best teas available. These competitions are “blind” –the judges have no knowledge of the tea they are tasting. Tea is judged on taste and color, and organic tea is clearly superior in both areas.
How Can I Be Sure it’s Organic?
This is a more difficult question to answer. Organic tea carries a premium price, so some unscrupulous tea vendors falsely label their products as organic tea to get more money. Organizations like the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have certification programs. Inspectors evaluate the conditions where the organic tea is grown and issue a certificate if the plantations meet their standards.
Many tea plantations in various parts of the world have been certified organic, so if you are purchasing “organic tea” make sure it has information on the certifying agency. Most reputable brands will not falsify this information, but to be on the safe side you can contact the agency and inquire about a particular brand of organic tea.
You should be aware, though, that certifying agencies for organic tea are only certifying the tea where it is grown. Once the tea is sold there is no guarantee that it won’t be mixed with non-organic tea.
Here is where your taste buds come into play. Organic tea will usually be good quality. Look for non-blended tea and expect it to be a taste sensation. You are paying a higher price so you should expect to get better tea. If you don’t, pass over this vendor. Tea merchants who sell fake organic tea hurt the entire tea industry.