Organic Loose Tea
What Does It Mean?

What everyone should understand about organic loose tea: What it does and does NOT mean.

For tea lovers living in the West, here is a conundrum: We love tea. But we can't grow it in our own backyard. We struggle even more to try to make it.

We rely on third world countries in Asia, South America and Africa for much of our supply. We know there are pollution and regulatory issues.

Just like we try to eat organic food, we seek out certified organic tea, thinking that they are higher quality. But is that really the case?

This is a controversial topic, I have to confess there is no definitive answer. The key is to understand what organic certification really means.

What Organic Certification Mean

In the United States, any organic certified food must meet the National Organic Program (NOP) standards set by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Here is what USDA defines as organic:

  • The farm emphasizes the use of renewable resources.

  • It does not use most conventional pesticides.

  • It does not use fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge.

To quote USDA:

A NOP certified tea is not necessarily higher quality or more nutritious. It simply differs from the conventionally produced food in the way it is grown, handled and processed.

What Organic Certification Does Not Mean

To echo what USDA says above, certified organic loose tea may provide a minimum standard of growing tea plants, but does not automatically guarantee quality, purity and the highest level of safety.

Here are three reasons why:

An organic certified tea doesn't guarantee quality.

This is because the highest quality tea is harvested very early spring from pristine mountain top, where the air is damp, soil is rich and the water is clean. Tea plants can grow from low lying areas, and still be certified organic.

For further information on why the best teas come from high mountain, check out:

Lushan Yunwu Tea (Cloud and Mist Green Tea) - Her Daring Fragrance!

An organic certified tea does not guarantee purity.

This is because certified organic loose tea can be contaminated if the soil and air contain environmental pollutants released from nearby cars and factories.

An organic certified tea does not guarantee safety from overdose.

This is because the tea leaves could be low quality (i.e. mature and late harvests) and contain high concentration of fluoride and aluminum. When consume in high doses (say 15 cups a day), they could cause problems for some people.

Why You Shouldn't Drink Too Much Mature Leaf Tea

Most people are concerned about insecticides. But evidence suggests that other chemicals are more likely to cause problems.

There is precious few, if any, Chinese tea drinkers that have suffered from insecticides overdose from drinking tea.

More prevalent in China and the West, however, are tea drinkers who suffer from drinking too much because of the fluoride and aluminum present in tea. These are mainly drinkers of mature leaves, such as low quality green tea, black tea or pu-erh tea.

In America, a Lipton tea drinker had this problem. She drank large quantity of processed tea that contains high level of fluoride. She was also drinking water with high level of fluoride.

But this is not a concern if you drink high grade green tea. This is because the tea buds are only a few days old when they are harvested. They are pure and contain little chemicals present in the soil.

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