Alexey and Kenneth discussed a related concern:  When farming using pesticide controls as soon as an insect gains tolerance for the chemicals, it has unrestricted access to feed on the plants, requiring different chemical treatment to eliminate it.  This could potentially become a vicious cycle, requiring a series of changes over time, one with health impacts for consumers eating or drinking products made from those materials.

All very fascinating!  The entire talk is worth a watch: To catch the original form, the related Tea Fauna Facebook page covers more, or the related Instagram version tells the story through photos.

Biodiversity Research and Wild Origin Teas - Part 2 - Image of an insect

In the end, the goal is to promote preservation of truly natural wildlife areas.  Being able to assess the health of a local environment and knowing more about stages in between balanced, natural forests and ecologically stripped, monoculture farming environments could support this.  This early research work isn’t necessarily building directly into a way to transition from monoculture farming back to more varied, organic approaches, or to use truly natural environments as food sources.  It’s about developing understanding and tools for analysis.

Beyond leading toward more natural organic approaches, another more extreme idea is that if wild forests can provide economic support and income for local people, that provides more incentive for protecting those environments.  The links and supports between original forest, least environmentally friendly farming (mono-culture approaches), more organic approaches, and re-forestation (the interim steps) make for a longer story.

Related to that one end point goal and sub-theme, Monsoon sells “wild” origin versions of Thai teas, as are produced all across South East Asia.  I’ll mention a lot of examples of related teas here, without going into detail about character or background, with more information about them in linked materials.

The “wild” teas can be unusual.  Many of those have an odd sour taste, which is better once you are expecting it, and have a chance to acclimate a bit to the different style.  It’s not unique to their versions; I reviewed a wild Xiaguan sheng pu’er that was similar (a 2005 version, so with some age), and a locally made sheng version produced by my favorite Bangkok shop owner (from 2012, so not “young” either), which I really liked.  

Biodiversity Research and Wild Origin Teas - Part 2 - Alexey at a table

I just reviewed a Yongde “ye sheng,” or wild origin material Yunnan black tea not long ago, but in that case I was talking about an unusual degree of tartness, not sourness.  It would depend on the mix of genetics in the plant material, and of course processing always affects outcome.  I reviewed a hill-tribe producer sourced Thai black tea last year that wasn’t tart or sour, just quite good tea, maybe only a little more “rustic” than some more refined versions.  And I’ve reviewed a comparable themed version from Vietnam.  Again, differences in plant types and processing would factor in, so resulting character varies.

Those references relate mostly to black teas, since that’s the general type I started on discussing, but wild and plantation produced sheng “pu’er-like” types come up across South East Asia too.  As of now the production and market for those probably aren’t extensive enough to play a significant role in preventing further de-forestation.  But lots of little steps could add up, and help support retention of natural areas, including appreciation for forest-origin products.

Images copyright to Alexey Reshchikov of Tea Fauna and used with permission