The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Organically Grown Tea
The growing of organic tea is relatively new, dating back only seven to ten years.
The rules under which organic tea is produced are fairly complicated and tightly
controlled.  The tea crop must be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers,
pesticides or herbicides.  It relies on totally natural organic matter such as com-
post, dung, and plants and trees to provide the necessary nutrients and ground
cover.
With the world facing a glo-
bal climate crisis, there's more information
daily on the threat of chemicals to not only
our health, but the health of our world.  Not
only do chemicals directly affect the ground,
but the food grown in it.

But it's the emissions released during their
manufacture that has an even greater impact
on the environment. The harmful emissions
given off during the manufacturing of chemi-
cals has been directly linked to global
warming.

It's up to all of us to do our part to stop the
killing of our earth. Going organic is a great
place to start, for the environment, your
health, and that of your loved ones.
Officially Organic
There are two categories of organic tea production:

1)  Tea that's certified organic by one of several international agencies
2)  Tea that's grown according to traditional methods, following the principals
of organic growth, but not validated by a certified agent

When a tea is labeled "certified organic", it has met the conditions by at least
one of the regulatory agencies having established guidelines for organic food
production.

That's not to say that all non-organic certified teas contain chemicals and are
unhealthy.  But for those consumers interested in long term health for both themselves and the
environment, there is a system in place that recognizes the fine qualities and flavor of organically
grown tea.

Some tea has been grown organically for centuries, in spite of codes or set rules.  These tea
estates have simply followed tradition in growing their tea, following age-old agricultural
principals set down by their ancestors, and their ancestor's ancestors, using secret methods and
traditions known only to the tea grower.

And even though there are more and more tea drinkers worldwide, in the U.S., Canada, the UK,
Western Europe (especially Germany), and the growing Asian middle class, who are demanding
high quality organic teas, the production is driven mainly by cost.  The cost ratio (and other
factors) of producing organic tea definitely affects the production, both now and in the future.
Regulatory Organizations
Products labeled "organic" must be certified according to these guidelines and then may be identified with the official
label of the European Union.  There are only two categories of "certified organic" allowed; one for products containing
at least 95% organic ingredients, and one for products containing 70 - 95% organic ingredients.

Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS)
Japanese government identifies all certified products.  Managed by the MAFF, Japan's Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the JAS law regulates the labeling of agricultural products.

The Soil Association (England)
Founded in 1946, The Soil Association is a private agency founded by a group of scientists,
farmers, and nutritionists.  A charity that's funded solely by its members and outside donations,
The Soil Association is the main organic organization in the U.K., with its symbol being the most
trusted and recognizable organic mark.

                                  Demeter-International e.V. (Germany)
                                  Demeter-International e.V. is the international trademark for products certified from Biodynamic
                                  Agriculture worldwide.  Located in Darmstadt, with principal offices in Germany, Belgium, and
                                  Singapore, its membership is contractual and based on adherence to Biodynamic Agriculture, a
                                  method originated by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in his agriculture course, dating back to 1924.  

                                  Other Organic Regulatory Agencies
                                  There are many other natural agricultural-control agencies, as well as private and state certified
                                  programs. Depending on the type of certification and/or the country in which the tea will be re-
                                  tailed, it may carry a government, or private-independent certification, or both.

Of the better known certifying agencies whose logos you might see, there's Germany's International Federation of
Organic Agriculture Movements, Switzerland's Institute for Marketecology, California Certified Organic Farmers,
and California's Quality Assurance International.  
Enjoy.
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                                                           To verify the tea you're purchasing is organic, look for the
                                                           logo or stamp of the regulatory organization that has set
                                                           the standards for organic tea production.  The five most
                                                           reputable regulatory organizations, with the highest
                                                           standards, that you're likely to see are:

                                                           United States:  USDA National Organic Program (logo
                                                           stamped NOP)
          The USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) developed a set of national organic standards in the
          1990's.  They were activated in 2002 under the legislation known as "USDA National
          Organic Program", or NOP for short.

          The legislation requires all organic products be certified by an independent agency
          approved by the USDA, and that products labeled "organic" must be certified according
          to the guidelines set forth by the legislation.

          Under the NOP there are four categor-
          ies of organic content: 100% organic,
          95% or more organic, 70% to 95%
          organic, and less than 70% organic.  
          Products are required to have the
          appropriate official label of the USDA.

          European Union:  Regulation No.
          2092/91
          The European Union is the largest or-
          ganic marketplace in the world and
          was the first to enact governmental
          legislation in regard to organic produc-
          tion and marketing.  The original regu-
          lation was drafted in 1991, going in-
          to effect in 1992.

          Since then Regulation No. 2092/91 has been modified, clarified, and amended and at 95
          pages, is quite comprehensive.  It's also the legal basis for the production, processing,
          and trade of all organic products in the twenty-seven countries of the European Union,
          as of 2007.
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