Organic vs Conventional Tea

Dried and fresh Loose leaf tea in a wooden spoon

Organic seems to be the key when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Probably that’s why in the past years we’ve seen a lot of claims and certifications being thrown around. So, is non-organic tea safe for consumption?

 

 Most of the bloggers will say that organic tea is much safer and healthier than conventional. It is not Muave’s intention to change your mind in what you put in your body. Therefore we will stick to the facts on the issue and give the consumers a deeper understanding to know the difference between the two options and make an informed decision.

 

There was a time when everything was organic…. 

Fresh loose leaf tea plant in a plantation India

 Nowadays most companies will state the word ‘organic’ clearly and on a visible place on the packaging as it has been proven selling strategy over the years. That being said, ‘organic’ products must use very little chemicals during the growing process. Also, the soil that the products are grown in must be free and clear of the same chemicals. To ensure this, farmers must let their fields unused until they reach an acceptable level. Most farmers in tea growing regions are too poor, to be able to afford the privilege of not making money off of their fields for years at a time, most of the tea that is processed worldwide is not certified “Organic”. 

 

 Although "Organic" does have real meaning and environmental value, it is not focused primarily on the quality of the tea and does not come with guarantees. Organic certification controls the inputs and the process and strives to protect the environment but does not involve any testing or verification after the tea is produced to determine whether the rules were followed. Because there are no quality standards for the final product, organic certification also does not guarantee that there are no environmental pollutants or contaminants during processing or packaging. So, it is important to buy from growers, distributors and retailers that you trust, regardless of the certification. It is also worth considering that tea bags and even boxes can be bleached or contain plastic. In this way, the tea product cannot be considered fully organic. There is a smaller chance of your tea leaves coming into contact with chemical elements if they come in loose leaf packaging. 

 

 Requirements for organic tea does not include the guidelines about heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, etc. They are present in the air, water and soil, and may contaminate any organic crop. Research showed that both organic and non-organic food may be dangerous. In the study, organic food had more lead, cadmium, and mercury than the non-organic one. Being "certified" organic is also a rather complicated process. There are a lot of different agencies internationally that certify products as organic. Each one of them has different standards, and some certifications are accepted in one country, but not others. For example, some products considered organic by the European organic association will not be considered organic by the USDA. But on the other hand, there is no significant scientific proof showing that it is dangerous to drink tea that is not organic. More importantly, because of the bureaucratic complexity of certifications and the small size of most premium tea producers, many teas that might qualify as organic are never formally certified. 

 

Female tea farmer picking up a fresh tea from plantation

 The best tea in the world comes from small farms, and these farms rarely have internet access, mobile phones. The farmers usually sell directly to whoever takes a trip to their farms. Tea that comes to the UK for general consumption comes from massive plantations that work with export agents. The resources backing the big farms often include larger foreign tea companies with exclusivity contracts. It is worth these companies money to pay for "Fair Trade" and "Organic" certification. It is both out of reach and a waste of resources for the small speciality farmers to gain such certification.

 

Indian farmer working on a plantation

 

 

References/Credits:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound

https://www.soilassociation.org/our-work-in-scotland/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/organic-certification-list-of-uk-approved-organic-control-bodies

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

https://unsplash.com/photos/beNiTTa8Pp8?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

https://unsplash.com/photos/Qaor6nxikUM?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

https://unsplash.com/photos/_e-KrDQ_M8Q?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

 

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for reference only. Self-treating health problems with tea are not advisable, and you should always consult your doctor when you plan to change your diet while suffering from serious diseases or taking medication. Most teas contain caffeine and may not be suitable for people sensitive to caffeine. Drinking massive amounts of tea might have a negative impact on your health.