Read Part 1 here.
Indirectly, when we buy organic tea we are also supporting smaller-scale farmers and cooperatives because, while organics probably can be maintained on quite large scales, the whole philosophy of going organic and being a steward of the land lends itself to small-scale agriculture practices; Just as the spirit of gong fu tea is better suited to smaller groups of tea lovers. Inorganic tea is one of the most destructive crops in the world, being farmed on unimaginably large scales on mountaintops. Deforestation, heavy chemical inputs, monoculture and greedy harvests result in chemical runoff and water contamination, landslides, ecological imbalance, loss of soil fertility, short term farming, and tea so far removed from its natural state of being we might even call it something else altogether. In Taiwan, there are still lots of small-scale tea farmers and cooperatives that support each other through trying times and they also need the support of people like us so that they can continue offering their services.
Possibly, you simply aren’t in the position to buy your tea organic, be it the extra cost or limited access. We can’t blame you; it often is more expensive and less widely available (all the more reason for those who can afford it and have access to it to buy it, because eventually it will be worth making available on a larger scale, ideally without sacrificing quality, and thus become more feasible for more people). In the case that you find yourself with some inorganic tea, possibly gifted to you, for example, there are a few things to consider as I alluded to in the beginning. Tea leaves are very sensitive, as is water, making brewed tea doubly sensitive. Therefore, the frame of mind in which you approach your tea makes all the difference in the world. As high-quality teaware can increase a poorer quality tea, so too a clear mind can clear the impurities of tea, for what are the impurities in tea if not the impurities in our mind?
I like to say that the poorest quality tea served with the greatest of intentions is always going to be better than the highest quality tea served with the worst of intentions. Another method of transforming your tea is to celebrate it with loved ones. Drink your tea with love and with loved ones. This type of space is so strong, and very important to the quality of our lives—so important that it can trump the many negative associations we might otherwise impart on the things we consume. If I haven’t convinced you, or you can’t host such a belief system yourself, just compost such teas or use them as mulch. Then, time will take care of the problem, and twenty grams of inorganic tea will one day be recycled into twenty grams of something else. In the end, the tea is spirit anyway…
“The Benefits of Buying Organic Tea” is an excerpt from the article “Affecting Change” by Shane Marrs for Global Tea Hut.