Chip wrote:Let me first say this. I tell people not to really be in the habit of comparing conventionally grown to organic grown Japanese teas especially ... on an apple to apple basis. It just does not pan out well this way.
In recent history ... organic teas from Japan have paled in comparison to their conventionally grown counterparts.
It is only very recently that it seems Japan seems compelled to produce very good organic. I suspect a lot of this has to do with supply and demand. (I wonder if the increased popularity in Japanese teas in the Western world has provided more incentive to produce more and better organics)
I personally suspect the number one factor creating this apples to oranges comparison is the use of fertilizer. Thus the extreme example of Gyokuro which is very heavily fertilized, conventionally grown gyo is far superior in richness and taste compared to organic gyos I have sampled. It is simply very hard to provide the level of nutrients required to produce a flavor profile comparable to conventionally fertilized.
Sencha is typically fertilized far less, thus the differences seem to me to be less acute, though I still do not believe they are going to be the same.
Regardless, there is room for both in this world ... and of course, like what you drink, drink what you like.
The issues surrounding organic farming vs chemical farming are much greater than supply and demand. It's an environmental issue and a personal awareness issue that has become a global issue in these times of intense industrial pollution, agro big business taking over small farm production, and, the lobbying by Petro-chemical conglomerates world wide. The amount of organic production of produce world wide is infinitesimal compared to chemical production. The pressures on small organic farmers is enormous both economic-wise and the learning curve to produce top grade product.
In the case of gyokuro, there is a tiny amount of farmers producing organic tea. This is why we don't see much of it when we peruse the various online sellers. And organic doesn't guarantee top quality. But switch countries for a moment and look at production in Darjeeling and Taiwan. Almost all the gardens in Darjeeling have either switched to organic growing or are in the process of switching. In Taiwan, many certified and non certified growers producing outstanding organic teas. Combine this with tea masters who are serious about producing top teas and not necessarily top Dollar, and you have organic teas amongst the best you can get.
Korea is another example. The best teas are organic because the tea masters producing these teas seek harmony with nature and live their life as an expression of this. It's a way of life, not a job.
Until we see a serious effort on the part of Japanese tea masters and growers to produce organic gyokuro (not an easy tea to deal with in any case because of its special treatment), it's easy to say anything about why non organic is better but it may not be true. The facts are not in except there is a paltry offering of organic gyokuros and a lot of questionable information as to why.