There is often a lively debate about whether organic teas are better, or in some cases, actually worse. The response that one gets will often vary, often depending if one is getting it from a tea supplier or a tea drinker. Below are some of the arguments I’ve come across, what Living Tea is, and why I’ve become fond of Living Tea.
Non Organic Tea
I hear sometimes from tea vendors that organically certified teas are not necessarily better. Instead, are often worse in quality. They say that the farmers that try to get organic certification often grow teas within inferior terroir. They argue that getting an organic certification is just a way to increase the sales of lower quality teas. I’ve also heard that many farmers are already growing organic tea, but they don’t bother to get the organic certification. They mention that there is a high cost and more accounting details when getting certification. In most cases, a certification which would not really benefit their current situation.
I usually take these arguments with a grain of salt because they mainly come from tea vendors. Tea vendors also tend sell mainly non organic tea, so this can be a conflict in interest. One could also do a taste test, and see if organic teas are far worse in quality than those that don’t have the organic stamp. I don’t think that their argument is without merit because many premium, non organically certified teas are often grown in good terroirs in mountainous regions. However, I don’t think that this is always the case. And evaluating a tea based only on taste is an complete views of the situation.
Organically Ceritifed Tea
The explosion in organic food of the past years has of course spread itself to tea. Many people who are interested in organic food and have a passing interest in tea would naturally select organic. I do the same with many other goods. However, I think the organic label often is good for people’s conscious, just as in the same way that people feel good about fair trade teas and other food items. I believe that there is a large group of people that would not be happy to learn that farmers are getting sick from using chemical pesticides, and the environment is being worsened.
I came across the phrase Living Tea from the folks at Global Tea Hut. Essentially, Living Tea is a subset of organic teas. Chemical pesticides avoided, and these type of teas are often seed propagated, as opposed to being grown with grafts. Modern tea plantation farming employ often uses grafts that are taken from a tea that produces a desirable flavor. These grafts are then replanted numerous times. They are nourished with chemical fertilizers, and protected with chemical pesticides. As Wu De from Global Tea Hut jokes, they are tea clones that are nourished with chemicals instead of the environment that the tea actually is in.
If the tea clones are underperforming, they are ripped out of the ground and new tea clones are planted. One can imagine that these teas don’t have long lifespans.
With Living Tea, the seed propagated teas are allowed to cross pollinate, allowing for diversity. Chemical fertilizers are avoided, and teas are instead taking nourishment from the surrounding terroir. Since no chemical pesticides are used, the growing and processing takes into consideration bug bites.
Since these tea trees are allowed to grow naturally, the roots go deeper and are able to pull more minerality from the ground.
My experience with Living Tea is that they tend to be complex in taste and aroma. They give good mouthfeel, and can be infused multiple times and still maintain complexity. I’ve noticed that even the “Qi” or energy is better. I noticed that fairly quickly and this may be due to some sensitivity from many years of daily meditation. However, I think most people can notice a difference in how they feel from drinking Living Tea, without necessarily being able to put a finger on why.
Giving Living Tea a try
To summarize, I have found that Living Tea, in comparison to non-organic teas, really excels in complex flavors, and good mouthfeel. And the difference in “Qi” is like night and day. I think its worth giving Living Tea a try.
If nothing else, one supports farmers who are trying to support their families without putting their health at risk. I once saw an interview with an organic farmer, and he said it can take six years to fully move from non-organic to organic farming because one has to learn a new technique. In the meantime, they usually produce tea that isn’t as good. It seems like it would be worthwhile to support farmers who were willing to endure a couple of lean years. And not to mention, its good for the environment. So the overall story is good. When one supports Living Tea, one doesn’t just drink tea with one’s mouth, but one drinks tea with one’s whole being.