Many people buy organic tea for health reasons. However, there are many other reasons to opt for organic over conventionally the grown. Here are the top five.
01 of 05
Better for You
One of the main reasons people opt for organic tea over conventionally grown tea is that organic tea is better for you. While it is true that some pesticides and fertilizers are removed during tea processing, many of these chemicals are water-soluble... which means that they are in the leaf structure and they are removed from the tea leaves during steeping.
In 2012, a major study by Greenpeace found that the pesticide levels in Chinese teas are often very unhealthy. Similarly, another study found that regularly drinking pesticide-contaminated tea does more harm than good and can actually decrease (rather than increase) lifespan.
However, this is a short-sighted view of why you as an individual should consider opting for organic tea over conventionally grown tea. Below, you'll find four more reasons that look at why we as a society and a planet are better off with organic tea as the norm.
02 of 05
Better for the Farmers
We've established that drinking organic tea is ideal for your health. Now, imagine that part of your job is to spray fields of tea with these same chemicals. Or to mix them in large buckets. Or to apply them by hand. And that masks and gloves are not so common or such good quality where you live. Not so great, huh?
Time and time again, we see tea farmers and field workers in India, Taiwan and elsewhere spray their crops without using masks, gloves or other protective gear. In fact, spraying chemicals onto crops without proper protection and caution is so common that people can be sprayed with chemicals by simply driving down a road next tea field. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these chemicals are seen as safe and even as necessary by many farmers. This is a shame because the farmers are the first to be hurt by their decisions to use chemicals to treat the land on which they work and live.
Today, some of the most active proponents of organic tea farming are those who have been impacted directly by the devastating effects of chemical tea farming methods. These include tea farmers whose parents and siblings have died of cancer or of pesticide poisoning, as well as those who have personally be sickened by the chemicals they used on their own land before converting to organic tea production.
03 of 05
Supports Small Farmers and Small Farms
There are some large organic tea farms in the world. However, the majority of organic farms are on smaller plots of land run by smaller businesses. This has to do with the nature of organic farming.
You see, conventional farming involves all kinds of chemicals used to keep nature from 'interfering' with the crops. But well-managed organic farms do the opposite. They work in harmony with nature to manage various pests and other 'problems'. This typically means that the farms do not grow tea as a monoculture. Organic tea fields may have natural grasses and weeds as ground cover, or they may utilize permaculture for a more comprehensive approach to letting nature balance itself out naturally instead of trying to shove away one kind of 'problem' only to find that it causes another one to surface.
Beyond this, smaller operations in China, Taiwan, and many other tea-producing regions are family operations. They often have more ethical treatment of the workers. And more of the money you spend tends to go more directly to the farmers themselves, creating more abundance in countries where farmers tend to be poorer people.
04 of 05
Better for the Tea Plants
This one is pretty simple. Would you rather drink tea made from a plant that was grown in a toxic, stressful situation or a tea that was grown in harmony with nature? Which one would feel better to you? Which one would nourish your body and spirit more? Which one would put you in harmony with nature more?
Many meditators and sensitive people can feel the differences between conventionally grown and organic teas. It is suspected that many of the negative side effects that some people feel from drinking too much tea (such as jitteriness, sleeplessness and the like) may not be a direct result of the caffeine in tea, but of unnatural chemicals used in conventional tea production.
Some people claim that conventional tea is "superior" to organic tea because it supplies more nitrogen to tea plants. However, this is a tenuous claim at best. It's akin to saying that someone on steroids is "superior" to someone who works out at the gym.
It is also worth noting that there are no chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers made specifically for tea. The chemicals that are applied to tea plants are generic and were not made to respond to the unique needs of the tea plant and its ideal environs.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Doesn't Cause Major Environmental Damage
Conventionally grown tea is one of the most environmentally devastating crops in Asia. Because it is often grown at higher elevations, the chemicals applied to conventional tea farms not only damage the local ecosystem but run down mountains and hills to wreak havoc on other farms, forests, rivers and even oceans located miles and miles away.
Many of the pesticides used in conventional tea farming contain excess heavy metals, which not only show up in certain finished teas but also wash downstream to contaminate the soil and water elsewhere. And meanwhile, the fertilizers that get washed down the mountains cause over-fertilization of other crops and plants, killing many river and ocean species over time.
Furthermore, the use of pesticides imbalances the ecosystem by killing not only the harmful bugs but also their natural predators (such as spiders and ladybugs). Pesticides often kill off around 99 percent of the insects on the farm, leaving a small population of damaging species whose populations mushroom rapidly and overtakes the farm. Meanwhile, the populations of beneficial organisms take longer to get re-established within the ecosystem (because their life cycles are slower and they producer fewer offspring over a given time period). This situation often prompts the use of additional chemicals or more frequent applications of chemicals to eliminate the oversized population of harmful insects.
In the long-term, the use of fertilizers also hardens the soil, making it more and more difficult for the tea plants to grow without more chemicals. This kind of chemical dependency becomes a vicious cycle in which the tea plants, the farmers, the local environment, the environment at large and the tea drinkers all lose.
Greenpeace. Pesticide pollution: Chinese tea may not be safe to drink. April 16, 2012.