The organic production of tea is a relatively new development - dating back only ten to twelve years. Cultivation under organic rules is extremely complicated and rigidly controlled. All fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides must be absolutely free of chemicals and must rely totally on substances such as dung, compost, natural organic matter, and plants and trees that provide necessary nutrients, ground cover, etc. The aims of organic estates are to achieve long-term sustainability of soil fertility and productivity protect the environment, and create a form of organic micro-system that produces an economically viable tea that is totally free of chemicals.
This does not imply that all non-organic teas contain chemicals, but rather that an organic system produces tea for a growing market of consumers who care about the environment and the long-term health of the planet, and which recognizes and appreciates the fine quality and flavor of some of the organic teas being produced today in India, Africa, and Sri Lanka. Makaibari in Darjeeling was certified by the Organic Farmers and Growers, UK, in 1990 and produces highly acclaimed teas of exceptional quality.
Mullootor is another Darjeeling garden that went organic in 1986, and Lonrho, in Tanzania, has been producing organic tea, since 1989. Their product has even been drunk at Buckingham Palace. In Sri Lanka, Needwood Estate is now also producing organic teas.
The cultivation of any food product under organic rules is extremely rigidly controlled by various international bodies. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other chemical additives of any kind may be used anywhere on the plantation and producers must rely totally on natural methods of pest and insect control, and on sprays, mulches and fertilizers that are made from dung, natural compost and other organic matter. Companies involved in organic production are concerned with the long-term health of our planet and organic tea plantations try to give back to the earth as well as take out By using natural pest control (for example by reintroducing ladybirds), they aim to protect rather than harm the environment while at the same time producing tea that is totally free of chemical additives. Organic production is labour intensive and therefore expensive but as more people around the globe begin to share the organic producers, concerns, an extensive range of organic tea products is becoming widely available through tea retailers and supermarkets.
Even without organic production methods, tea is actually an incredibly clean product whose cultivation and production are tightly controlled by strict EU and US rules of health and public safety. Yet the number of people who take into consideration the long-term health and viability of the planet when buying everyday commodities, and who care about and appreciate the fine quality and flavour of organic products, is now considerable, and continues to grow. For them, a wide range of organic teas is now available from Africa, Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan and elsewhere.
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