When you buy organic tea you support the organic tea movement. Full stop. What is it that you’re supporting? Your purchase supports organic farmers who have the integrity of the earth in mind. Ideally, they care for their crops, they care for their land, they care about the people down the food chain who end up consuming their product and they care about their own health. This is the energy that goes into raising their tea, and your purchase says you support that!
For us, in considering tea farming, we draw the line at chemical inputs. So long as the tea is surviving from the organic life in the soil itself, and so long as weed and pest control are conducted in ways that do not harm the earth, we like to support those farmers, certified or not. Word of mouth is good enough for us when relating directly to the farmers. Though the tea may be propagated from cuttings, though it may be planted in dense rows, though it may be treated as a commercial crop, this type of plantation tea, lacking any chemical input, plays a very crucial role in our world. Why? Because there are a lot of tea lovers out there! It is well known that tea is the second most consumed substance in the world, next to water of course, and that means if people are to receive the message tea has to offer on such a large scale, it needs to be made available on an equally large scale. And this type of tea is capable of meeting that demand without forgetting the importance of sustainable, clean farming practices while still accounting for all the tea lovers. That’s why it’s great to buy and support tea of this kind: It can reach a large audience while still upholding the integrity of the Earth.
When purchasing this type of tea you are also supporting a future where clean, healthy and sustainable tea is available. Whereas conventional methods of agriculture might yield higher quantities of tea now, they lack the dimension of time simply because when you force the land to give more than it has to offer and then try to make up for that depletion with large chemical inputs, you have an unsustainable system on your hands. Mother Earth can only sustain so much abuse before having nothing left to offer in terms of fertility. Organic plantation tea is available in both time and space, meaning it’s available now and into the future and in a quantity sufficient to heal us all without compromising the health of our planet. The only reason to compromise from Living Tea to plantation tea is to make more available to tea lovers, since there are so many of us. And inorganic tea doesn’t do that, since it doesn’t take future tea lovers into account!
Here, you are supporting earth-conscious farmers, sustainable, clean agriculture practices, the earth itself and even future tea drinkers! But what about yourself? Buying organic tea suggests that you not only care about others but that you also care about yourself and your own health, which in turn can be shared back again to others!
Indirectly, 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 and was originally republished with permission on T Ching in August 2014
Photo “Fair trade tea ad” is copyright under Public Domain License to the photographer Roland Tanglao and is being posted unaltered (source)
Photo “Tea Plantation 8034” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Barta IV and is being posted unaltered (source)