Organic Certification

How Growers and Consumers see “Organic”

This is the third post in a series of posts about the importance of organic tea. In the last post we spoke about conditions for tea producers. If you also haven’t read the first post yet, you can go back and read that now.

Remembering how western markets define organic. Meanwhile have the western consumers whom purchase the products ever considered what the term “organic” might mean to them? Let’s go back a few steps and try to see “organic” from the producers and growers point of view.

The producers adopt this language all too quickly when buyers come in their hired vans and large wallets to set the buyers at ease. This is often witness in China and leads to consumers back in their home countries consuming tea that they think meets their expectation of organic when in fact there is a difference. Perhaps what matters most is knowing that the tea has the least amount of chemicals, not going to harm humans and offers a superior flavour. So rather than buy “organic”, would it not be more important to the tea drinker knowing that your tea is of the best flavour and that it was grown by people using sustainable farming methods?… Meaning that their harvests will be attainable year after year… and to add to this, your tea is grown without the use of nasty chemicals.

Is your small grower producing a couple of ton of tea per year going to be able to afford these certifications? The certification that is trying to communicate this to the far away tea drinking on another continent? (Read more about this in the last post)

The answer is – not necessarily. So we need to learn more about the producers and understand their output better before we too quickly judge what is organic tea or not and certainly what is good tea and what is inferior tea.

Further to this whole issue on organic certification is the internal workings of the countries growing tea. Not necessarily the tea bodies established to market and operate the tea industry of each country, but sometimes the jostling between provincial level governments and tea interest bodies have a large hand to play when it comes to handling and allocating organic certification. Which certification approvals and labels are offered to which countries and of which provincial governments better assist their growers towards shared certification.

Back in 2007 a series of organic certification seals was offered to farms producing Oolong Rock Teas in Fujian, but only when all growers seemingly abide to what the government handles as an organic farming area with controlled boom gates controlling all inputs going to farms.

In the next post, we will be talking about a small village in Anhui called Hongcun. Read the next post in the series →

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