Organic Vs Non- Organic tea

51 Replies
za-hi said

when there’s an organic label on the box, there’s a minimum amount of pesticides that could be used to label the product as organic. if the product exceeds that threshold, it’s not considered organic. the us, uk, and other countries have their thresholds on what classifies a product as organic.

certified organic just means that it has met the organic guidelines for that country. just because it met the guidelines, doesn’t mean it’s pesticide free.

always be skeptical, because companies will always tell half truths, never the whole truth.

Thank you for your input and have had my share of problems with companies so I totally understand where your coming from.

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Pesticides to some degree are necessary.
For my own personal tea plants I have tried to use natural pesticides, BT, Pyrethrine, etc.
But recently had added some pesticide fire ant killer. They tried to invade my plants and would bite me and put scale bugs on my plants. I put up with it for a while for the sake of “organic” and then one afternoon said screw it. I’m tired of getting hurt and picking crap off my plants… time for pesticides!

It’s everyone’s personal choice. I prefer organic foods when i can find them. I wont however grow organic food. Too much drama and too much mess. I live in a tropical area so we have year round plant munching bugs.

Uniquity said

Fire ants sound terrible. Where I live it is relatively easily to grow produce without pesticides (for personal consumption). You do have to be vigilant against pests but my grandfather only ever used sudsy water in his garden and he was a farmer for decades.

Fire ants would make me run screaming! :)

Yes! The first time I had one crawl up my arm as i wan tending my plant I freaked out. Where there is one there are more! I could write a whole rant about fireants and their satanic ways (I caught two queens back in may(?) and put them in a jar… They are sadly still alive. I haven’t fed them either.) we have too many bugs and because it never really freezes they are active all year round. No amount of soapy water is helpful. :( So i now understand why farmers use pesticides. I just don’t agree with excess pesticide usage.

Man, thank you for your reply and an insight of what organic growers have to deal with.

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Divinitea said

We believe in organic tea so much that we built a business from it. We started at a time when it was hard to find certified organic tea and it wasn’t necessarily a popular marketing fad. When you start a business, you really have to have a passion for the product.

Tea is particularly susceptible to the ill effects of synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use. Tea leaves can’t really be cleaned properly when they are used. Plus, synthetic fertilizer use has a definite impact on flavor.

It’s not easy being certified organic for the tea estates or the blender. Our facility is inspected routinely by two agencies. We have to keep a detailed log of everything. It would be easier to just say our teas are really great and probably don’t have synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, but the problem is you just don’t know when it’s not certified.

We feel it’s not worth the long term health risks going with anything other than certified organic. We also feel it’s a long term good thing for tea farmers and the ecosystem. Especially because you really have to take care of a good growing region, because you can’t just move somewhere else. To elaborate more, we wrote this article on the topic:

Thank you for taking the time to reply and I will read that article. Thank you again for your input very helpful.

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looseTman said

Thanks for the links will read them. Have a wonderful weekend.

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mugger said

A quick reiteration of what has been said before, my understanding of the importance of growing organic tea is that given how the tea market works, it’s really in the interest of each farmer to produce the best tasting tea that they can, more so than producing the highest quantity. I don’t know anything about pesticides, but I have read a bit about how tea farmers feel about using fertilizers that artificially expedite the growth of the tea plants. The general consensus seems to be that letting the plants grow naturally, slowly, they way nature intended, creates a much more flavorful tea that absorbs the natural nutrients and minerals of the region (which, as mentioned in the early days of this thread, can be as specific as a single elevation of a single side of a single mountain). The impression I get is that tea plants are very sensitive to their growing medium and conditions, and the reason there are so many different teas to try is not due just to the differences in processing methods, but also to the nuances in the tea leaves themselves. Tea can be likened to wine. It’s in the interest of a quality vineyard to produce /better/ grapes, not just /more/ grapes, and the soil and land and natural environment that the plants grown in play a huge part in developing that flavor.

Edit: To clarify, most good tea is probably grown pretty “organically,” since that’s simply how you make good tea. Whether or not a tea is “certified organic” seems pretty arbitrary. Just buy good tea, and don’t get caught up with labeling.

Thank you again for your reply. I agree with you about not getting caught up with labeling. I am sure there are plenty of tea farmers that grow organically. They just can’t afford to pay large amount of money for the organic certification stamp. I think if your buying from a reliable source you really should be okay. I was more curious on this subject a while back when I wrote it. Have a tea-rrific day! Ha!

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Alexandra said

Tea Brands like Ethique ( are now aware and are concern on everyones well being. It is true that tea comes from cured leaves and while they do hold different variety of flavours, this doesn’t mean they are good for you. The farmers who grows them are either using pesticides and other chemicals to grow them. I suggest to find a brand that is 100% USDA organic certified, vegan verified, gluten free and non-GMO. Ethique is one of the few tea brands out there that curate and source high-quality teas. Their teas are also stamped with certifications to meet their customers satisfaction and ensure their safety. Their prices are also very reasonable too! :)

elena-z said

Is there a GMO tea out there?
Live and learn )))

Alexandra very good point. Thank you for your feedback. But, if you know the person your getting your tea from and they know the tea farmer and how their operation goes then I would say it is safe to say even tea farmers that don’t have the money for an organic stamp maybe running a good organic farm as well. Just some food for thought.

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Alexandra said

I am glad you asked Elena-Z! Let’s go back and find out what “GMO” means. Genetically Modified Organisms. It is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.

Can teas be GMO? -Undoubtedly, the vast majority of this new breed of consumers believes that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have as much place in their teacups as pesticides and heavy metals.

I found this articles that explains more about GMO on Teas -

elena-z said

Sorry, only had time to read the first article.
Goodness gracious! It talks about teabags made of plastic and GMO corn!
I guess this is another reason to drink higher quality loose leaf teas :))

I guess when I say “tea”, I mean camellia sinensis in a loose leaf form, not other botanicals, sorry should have been more specific.
I’ve never heard about camellia sinensis being genetically modified.

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Alexandra said

I know right, isn’t it crazy!!! That’s why I have only been using organic loose leaf teas and organic matcha powders. I am glad that I’ve found reasonable prices with What I like about them is that, they have sample sizes so I can try them in a smaller and cheaper form before I buy the big size. They only sell 100% usda organic certified, vegan, gluten free and non goo loose leaf teas and matcha powders. I guess that’s why they are called Ethique bec it means Ethical in french. :)

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Alexandra said

I agree that the higher grade of organic teas are hard to find. However, there are companies out there such as Ethique that only sources their teas to not just premium-quality of organic teas but also invested in certification to make sure the products the sell are really at its best. I was just in vietnam recently and spoked to farmers. Though they do claim that their products are all natural/organic, there’s no way for me to completely trust it is organic until I get it certified with USDA for example. I would hate to talk bad about China as I am sure they do make great teas but again there’s tons of Fake stuff out there. They even make fake rice and eggs.. It is crazy stuff!

Yes, I am Chinese but I still have to agree with you. Paper does not mean anything. They could sell you tea from other none organic farmer. sorry to say that but it happens.

LuckyMe said

Insisting on USDA certification will rule out practically all but the big tea companies. Many of the popular vendors on Steepster (YS, Verdant, Eco-Cha, Teavivre, etc) buy from small farms who grow their tea organically but don’t seek USDA certification…likely due to the cost.

I think i have involved in tea business long enough (or too long)… growing organic mean very different for different people. That is why there is a standard for it. Most Chinese in tea business don’t have a clue what organic means.

When I visit a farmer, I always try to understand what they mean by organic. I would only call my tea organic, when the grower have a trust worthy certificate (Japan, USA or European standard).

Teasenz said

Organic certification is just economically not feasible for small farms. Most farmers we cooperate with produce something between 30 to 100 KG (3.5k oz) of tea a year. They don’t really have any trouble selling their teas, and it doesn’t seem that by getting their teas certified means they can sell it at a better price. From an economic perspective, organic certification makes for sense for larger producers.

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Alexandra said

I don’t hope, i just make sure so for me, Id rather invest in buying from tea brands who source out their products from reputable farmers with proper certifications. Maybe if you are the farmer then you can trust yourself however, I have lived in USA, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Israel and I can go on. I visited farmers and unfortunately,I don’t trust nobody until it has that stamp. This lifestyle of organic thing is isn’t for everyone however, in my case I have suffered gluten problems my whole life. Either you have gluten problem or is vegan, I would still suggest that organic way is the way or no way at all unless you want to die early and don’t care about the environment.

I thought tea leaf is gluten free, no?

52Teas said

Tea leaves are gluten free but not all tea is gluten free. Products like barley contain gluten and barley is often sold as a tisane or herbal tea.

Alexandra said
Teasenz said

Here’s also a past discussion on Steepster about this topic:

AllanK said

If you are worried about gluten in tea one tea to avoid is Fuzhuan, it is processed with either rice flour, barley flour, or wheat flour and the manufacturer is unlikely to tell you which, or for that matter have a label that lists gluten if it is present.

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