The USDA National Organic Program sets federal standards and any foods that wish to be certified must be produced following these pre-set standards. These standards are also continually interpreted and developed by the National Organic Standards Board.
According to the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF inc.), organic standards address–but are not limited to–the following factors: soil quality, animal raising, pest and weed control, and use of input materials. Certified organic produce is grown on soil that is free of prohibited substances, such as pesticide, for at least three years prior to harvest to ensure that the produce will be free of such contaminants.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms created by genetic engineering in a process that alters the organism’s DNA. These organisms do not naturally exist in nature. Genetic engineering is prohibited in organic food and farming because of the concerns of the repercussions they may have on the environment and people’s health.
The use of renewable resources and activities that conserve the soil and water will enhance and sustain the environment for future generations. According to the CCOF, organic standards “promotes and enhance biodiversity, biological cycles, soil fertility, and restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.”
Most people consume tea for its health benefits. These health benefits can be diminished when consuming teas that are not organic. Tea leaves and other variations, such as processed tea bags, are usually steeped in water, and in this steeping process, many components from the tea leaves leach into the water. Along with the health-boosting antioxidants, residual pesticides or other unwanted substances can also leach into the water if the teas were not grown under organic standards.
It is extremely important to choose organic when purchasing and consuming tea powders such as matcha green tea. In the case of matcha, the tea leaves are ground into a fine powder. When a person consumes this matcha powder, they are consuming every part of the tea leaves and whatever residual substance, such as pesticide, that was attached to the leaves in the processing.
Next time you’re standing in the tea aisle at your local grocery store, make the decision process easier by choosing organic and choosing the choice that’s best for you, your family, and the environment.
Founder & President of Thao Tea Co.
I couldn’t agree with you more Thao. Organic produce is critical to ones health. As a daily tea consumer, it will be vital to our long term health to drink organic teas exclusively. Welcome to T Ching as our newest guest contributor.
Thank you, Michelle, for having me!
Nice article..I agree on the benefits of organic tea; however…I have no idea why, if a store wants to put organic or Fair Trade on their label for take-home loose tea, they also have to be certified or they can’t put that on the label, which unlevels the playing field for little guys who can’t budget in getting certified. Anyone want to explain? Absolutely nothing I know of with tea being packaged for take-home brewing in tea shops would change the tea being organic and Fair Trade. Please help me understand. And grocery stores aren’t the only place tea is sold… :)
At farmers markets in Oregon we use the phrase organic compliant. These are local farmers who have followed organic principles but don’t have certification, typically because of the cost to do so. Why can’t that be an option?
I agree. Unfortunately, in California they required our operation to be certified as well even though all our ingredients are certified organic. I believe some of their reasonings is to ensure there are no contamination and a way to verify all your organic sources. It shouldn’t have to be costly but the good thing is they do have a reimbursement program for small businesses.
Thao, we are in California so will have to look into that. It’s really one layer upon another and it adds up. I think your customers become loyal if you have incredible teas and it’s not as much of an issue, because they know the situation. I believe a packager who employs disabled workers and packages tea for a very large & well-known company in California actually had to have their facility certified organic and Fair Trade as well. Again, I don’t understand it when you are using Health Dept. approved packaging facilities and the product is already certified.