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I am wondering about organic vs. non-organic tea.

I would imagine that tea leaves absorb/hold pesticides and herbicides much in the same way that thin skinned fruits (like peaches) and berries do. I avoid conventionally grown produce and I am thinking that I would want to avoid non-organic teas too.

I was looking for a tea for my daily drinking and ordered a few organic dragonwells to try but I also ordered many non-organic teas to try too. It seems that if I only limit myself to organic teas then I will be severely limiting myself but at the same time I don't know why I wouldn't apply the same criteria that I do for my produce to my tea.

Thoughts?

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I have two Hampstead Teas here at work, Darjeeling and Earl Grey, and I like both of them just fine. They ain't Norbu, and their notion of "leaf tea" doesn't mean "whole leaves," but they're a nice day-to-day tea.

As for the organic part, well, I fill my body with all sorts of strange toxins and work in a preschool, so that's not a big issue for me. :wink: However, I wonder if high quality teas are typically organic anyway, or at least minimally fiddled with.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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However, I wonder if high quality teas are typically organic anyway, or at least minimally fiddled with.

Chris, the person I spoke with at Ten Ren told me that unless the tea is certified organic then it is conventionally raised which "often" includes the use of pesticides. He left me with the impression that the use or sprays is common in tea growing.

Richard, I look forward to hearing more from you on the subject.

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I try to buy organic teas, because the leaves are dried and therefore per teaspoon of tea you are going to get a higher concentration of whatever they are spraying them with than if you used the leaves freshed. I also use a lot of herbal teas, and I think it's important to buy them organic, especially if you (like me) are using them for their medicinal/ therapeutic qualities. But then again, I am a bit of an all natural hippy, so I may well be shouted down in this discussion!

Also, I would say that unless you see organic on the packet, it isn't organic. You can't assume anything.

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  • 4 weeks later...

St. Dalfour brand makes organic bagged teas in several varieties that are widely available at grocery stores. The Earl Grey is especially nice, hands down the best bagged EG I've had anywhere. Very perfumy and flowery. For that reason alone it makes it to my tea shelf and the organic claim is just a nice addition.

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  • 7 months later...

Here is today's article in the NYTimes on a problem with USDA organic certification in China that has been going on for some time.

Organic food from China, like tea and frozen broccoli, has increasingly found its way onto American store shelves, typically emblazoned with the green “U.S.D.A. organic” seal also found on food grown in this country.

The federal certification, the backbone of the organics industry, is aimed at assuring consumers that farmers and food manufacturers have passed tough, independent inspections — even half a world away.

Now serious questions about certification in China have been raised by the United States Agriculture Department. The agency, which uses private groups to conduct most organic inspections worldwide, has banned a leading American inspector from operating in China because of a conflict of interest that strikes at the heart of the organics’ guarantee. The federal agency also plans to send an audit team to China this year to broadly review the certification process.

While I have for some time trusted organic teas from Japan and Taiwan much more than those from mainland China, I have continued to buy a wide variety of Chinese tea, both organic and non-organic, from tea merchants I trust.

What reaction are the rest of you tea lovers having to this news?

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I would not assume anything certified organic is going to be truly 100% organically produced, whether in the US or abroad: there's always going to be some cheating somewhere. To me, buying organic is is less about fear of pesticide effects on me than about environmental effects of pesticides and non-organically produced fertilizers, so news like this is saddening, but not going to put me off of drinking tea or eating food labelled organic.

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