Chinese Tea And Pesticide - Why Quality Is On The Side Of History

by Julian

Following on Chris' questions on Chinese tea and pesticide...

Tea and Pesticide

It is not a coincidence that the highest quality tea in China is still to be found in the oldest tea villages. Here, teas are grown in their naturally organic form, much more so than their lower altitude cousins.

The so called modern agricultural innovations actually do a lot more harm than good to tea quality.

If left on their own, tea plants, pests and the anti-pests (such as insects, birds and spiders) form a natural equilibrium that allows high quality tea plants to thrive.

Increasing human intervention in the last 50 years have an adverse impact on this fragile equilibrium.

This happens because

- Tea plants are cultivated more intensively, which reduces space between crops, thus encouraging insects to spread and multiply.

- Use of large amount of fertiliser resulted in very tender tea shoots attracting certain new types of insects.

- Mis-use of pesticides resulting in death of birds and spiders.

Now, here comes the fun bit. To answer your questions, how do pre-industrial farmers cope without chemical insecticides?

- Hunt down the pests using baits such as light, food e.g. sugar, vinegar, wine.

- Cultivate tea species that are more resistant to the pests concerned.

- Harvest once the tea shoots are ready many times in the season, like what HQ's tea garden still practice today. Labour intensive, but gives high quality tea. This reduces their food supply.

- Pruning. Again, this reduces their food supply and encourage plant's growth. Reduces pest count next spring.

- Encourage the growth of anti-pests such as certain insects, spiders and birds.

- Sunning. Kill pests by exposing them to strong sunlight in mid summer by digging soil.

And much much more ... What do you think?

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