organic vs. not organic


Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

Postby reallygreen » Dec 1st, '07, 22:39

Hi, I'm new to this forum. This topic caught my eye while searching Google for even more places to buy Green Tea... I mainly buy tea from Rishi, Stash and Teaspring.com.

Organic food is not a "fad." Scientific research shows that organically produced food is better for you, because it has more nutrients and vitamins...
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=32375
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 753446.ece

On the other hand food grown with pesticides pollutes rivers, and can be harmful to locals who have to breathe that crap...
http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/ ... i/62/21396
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/16/1228/

So in the area of food I think organic agriculture wins hands down. As for teas, most of the teas I buy come from China. I believe pesticide-use isn't as widespread in China as America, especially on crops that need to be hand-picked like tea... mainly because of the costs. Therefore you could be buying "Organically Produced" teas, even when you buy tea that isn't certified organic.

I wish more tea would become organically certified, but the main problem with China is that for the same reason they don't use pesticides (cost), is the same reason they don't get certified organic (cost). It costs a lot of money to have an international organization certify your crops and make sure no pesticides are used.

That's why I like Rishi-Tea because they seem to be working directly with farmers to help pay for organic certification... which is basically a re-assurance to me that the my tea doesn't contain harmful chemicals. On the other hand, I still want to try a wide variety of green tea... so if the only option is non-organic, and I think the tea is a high-quality, I still buy it.

As for Japan, they have no excuse since they are an industrialized nation like the U.S. Every green tea I buy from Japan is organically certified. The taste of tea depends more on quality and freshness than the organic label... but in my experience organic food tastes better, so I can't imagine that if all other factors being equal, an organic tea would taste worse than a non-organic one. Buy high-quality tea from vendors you trust, whether organic or not, and you should be fine.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 1st, '07, 23:00

reallygreen wrote:I believe pesticide-use isn't as widespread in China as America


You've got to be kidding... China is one of the worst! Even aside from the pesticide issue, Chinese products have many more pressing health risks, tea included. On the contrary, "certified organic" in China means just about nothing.

Also, Japanese organic tea is crap, sorry. I would buy it if it weren't, but honestly I think you will have a hard time finding many Japanese tea enthusiasts who disagree with me.
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Postby Wesli » Dec 1st, '07, 23:26

Let us know where you get the best organic Japanese tea from. I have yet to taste a good one.

I also think some organic products, such as apples, and vegetables tend to taste better. These tend to be denser, while conventional taste more watery. When it comes to tea, it's rare to find a good organic one. I really enjoy some of Rishi's, but as a direct result I don't place to much faith in their organic labels.
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Postby Space Samurai » Dec 2nd, '07, 00:14

Scruff McGruff wrote:Also, Japanese organic tea is crap, sorry. I would buy it if it weren't, but honestly I think you will have a hard time finding many Japanese tea enthusiasts who disagree with me.


I am a big advocate of organic tea/food, and I haven't bothered to touch organic japanese tea, either. I guess I'll have to see for myself, but I'm not excited about the prospect.
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Postby reallygreen » Dec 2nd, '07, 02:04

Scruff McGruff wrote:You've got to be kidding... China is one of the worst! Even aside from the pesticide issue, Chinese products have many more pressing health risks, tea included. On the contrary, "certified organic" in China means just about nothing.

Also, Japanese organic tea is crap, sorry. I would buy it if it weren't, but honestly I think you will have a hard time finding many Japanese tea enthusiasts who disagree with me.


Hmm, maybe I like Chinese Green tea better because I've only tried Japanese organic tea... I'll let you know if I find a Japanese organic I really like.

I'm not opposed to trying a non-organic one, but I don't have a bunch of money right now to be buying new loose leaf teas, so I'll be sticking to my Organic Lu An Gua Pian from China. If it's true that certified organic in China means nothing, then oh well, at least I voted with my dollars that I don't want pesticides on my tea. :?
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Postby skywarrior » Dec 2nd, '07, 02:26

Scruff McGruff wrote:
reallygreen wrote:I believe pesticide-use isn't as widespread in China as America


You've got to be kidding... China is one of the worst! Even aside from the pesticide issue, Chinese products have many more pressing health risks, tea included. On the contrary, "certified organic" in China means just about nothing.

Also, Japanese organic tea is crap, sorry. I would buy it if it weren't, but honestly I think you will have a hard time finding many Japanese tea enthusiasts who disagree with me.


To Reallygreen: Before you think I have an agenda, I eat a lot of organic foods, largely because they taste better and I have good access to organic foods.

That being said, I noticed that almost all the references you cited had an organic agenda of one variety or another. I'd really like to see something mainstream about it.

Second, scruff is absolutely right. China is horrible when it comes to products. Just look at the tainted wheat germ that caused the pet food issues to see what I mean. They're extremely bad when it comes to pesticides. So, as much as I love tea from China, you can be assured that very little is pesticide free coming from there.

I also have my doubts about the true organic nature of many teas. I don't know enough about organic green Japanese tea to make a comment one way or another, but several of these folks do, so I'll defer to their opinions. If they say they're not that great, then they probably aren't.

Anyway, welcome aboard. I hope you're not dissuaded from talking with us because we disagree. We're a bunch of tea nerds, to put it mildly. :)
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Postby Wesli » Dec 2nd, '07, 03:40

skywarrior wrote:...you can be assured that very little is pesticide free coming from there.



The problem is, that we can't be assured of anything when it comes from China. :(
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Postby bambooforest » Dec 2nd, '07, 13:37

First of all, I agree with you that some tea farms in China do not use pesticides because of cost. But many do regardless of cost. So buying tea from China and expecting to get a tea devoid of any pesticides or tea that isn't grossly over the the maximum allowed levels of residue is a crap shoot. And well, if assurance is what one seeks, then Chinese tea should be overlooked.

I agree with Scruff, organic tea out of Japan is well known to be typically inferior. But this is often true of Chinese tea as well (I talked to an employee of a tea company about this). Yes, vegetables have been known to taste better when organically grown. This parallel does not translate into tea however. Not typically. And that is a well known notion in the tea industry.

The thing about buying conventionally grown tea from Japan, is at least I know that their pesticides are *regulated*. I have full confidence of that with Japanese tea, but with Chinese tea anything is possible unfortunately.

In addition to that, I have read that the Japanese make it a point to use pesticides that are not water soluble. So in addition to having the security of knowing my green tea hasn't been drenched with pesticides to levels that are 20 times over the allowed levels.. I also know they are using pesticides that leach an extremely low proportion into the brew.

reallygreen wrote:

As for Japan, they have no excuse since they are an industrialized nation like the U.S. Every green tea I buy from Japan is organically certified. The taste of tea depends more on quality and freshness than the organic label... but in my experience organic food tastes better, so I can't imagine that if all other factors being equal, an organic tea would taste worse than a non-organic one. Buy high-quality tea from vendors you trust, whether organic or not, and you should be fine.
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Postby bambooforest » Dec 2nd, '07, 13:49

All this being said, I have tremendous respect for Chinese tea. But, when speaking about pesticide usage in China, an honest look at the picture isn't very comforting at this current time.

I'm sure, a good percentage of Chinese tea is fine. But, if you get one selection that isn't in line, that may be on more than you wanted. I've concluded, from my research on this issue, that green tea is the most commonly over applied with pesticides type of tea in China. I've also concluded that oolong and black tea varietals don't require as much pesticides. My conclusions aren't based on much research or knowledge of the tea industry in China, so take it with a grain of salt.

I support organic growing methods. However, I'm also not against the use of pesticides, but I think it is imperative that they be regulated at the very least.
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Postby Wesli » Dec 2nd, '07, 15:37

Ladies and gentlemen, this guy here is the reason I'm chock-full of Chinese greens. :D
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Postby Chip » Dec 2nd, '07, 15:44

Took me a few minutes to understand what you meant, then I remembered "the deal." :lol:

Of course, the only solution at this point is much more testing. I have said this before.

Once there is more and more verifiable proof, more and more people will listen.

Since I do not trust any government testing, it must be done by a trusted independent testing organization. I for one would like to be a part of that.
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Postby joelbct » Dec 13th, '07, 00:01

1. Does anyone have any links to scientific studies on the issue of deleterious pesticide chemicals in tea liquor?

2. How about links to information on rate of pesticide use in tea in general, or by geographical area?

And I had been asking myself the same questions, can we trust China tea, even if labeled Organic?

I buy almost all Organic food, it tastes better, the farmers tend to care about the taste more than do the big corporate concerns, and yes, plenty of scientific studies have shown pesticides to cause cancer and damage the environment. I mean it's not rocket science, these chemicals are DESIGNED to kill things.

And I have come across some decent tea that claims to be organic. I guess the real question here is, should we worry, and if so, how much, what can we do about it?
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Postby Space Samurai » Dec 13th, '07, 00:29

joelbct wrote:And I had been asking myself the same questions, can we trust China tea, even if labeled Organic?


You can't trust anything, not completely, but if my tea comes to me USDA and QAI certified organic, than I have a signifcant amount of faith that it is what it says it is.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 13th, '07, 04:55

joelbct wrote:I mean it's not rocket science, these chemicals are DESIGNED to kill things.


You're right, it isn't rocket science– it's biology. :) I'm not arguing with you that pesticides have the potential to be dangerous, but would you also argue that antibiotics should be avoided because they are designed to kill things (bacteria)? Food for thought...

I agree with space on the trustworthiness of the organic label.

Also, though I haven't researched it myself, I had come to understand that most pesticides are hydrophobic and thus do not end up in the tea liquor in any significant amount. I don't have any studies for you though, sorry. Have google scholar or pubmed turned anything up?
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Postby joelbct » Dec 14th, '07, 19:36

Scruff McGruff wrote: but would you also argue that antibiotics should be avoided because they are designed to kill things (bacteria)? Food for thought...


Ah, touche! Interesting point...

I suppose one might say that insecticide is made to kill organisms that are complex, and somewhat more closely related to mammals than are the single-celled organisms that antibiotics are made to kill...

But I do believe antibiotics are to be used sparingly as well- They can wreak havoc on the dynamic of the digestive system, killing off the good bacteria...

I would love to believe that pesticides cause no harm to humans or the environment, but from what I have read, that just is not the case. I favor Organic Food for that reason, and because on the whole, Organics seem to be grown with an eye towards taste more than are the conventional plant foods...

However, perhaps tea is another case in that respect, because most high-end teas are grown and sold with a keen eye towards taste already, pesticides or no
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