Are all loose leaf teas organic?
I get asked this question all the time. The short answer is no. But this is a wildly complicated question the further you dig into it. Many traditional loose leaf teas are going to be natural with no additives but the term organic gets tricky especially when you talk about any international foods.
You can get loose leaf tea that is just as bad as the tea found in common tea bags, and much of the common organic terminology is misleading or flat out wrong. You are more likely to be getting a high grade product when it is available loose but many factors should go into your decision before purchasing.
Let me clear up a few things first. There are many problems with the organic terminology.
I like the way it is put here-
"Contrary to what most people believe, "organic" does not automatically mean "pesticide-free" or "chemical-free". In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops”
Many small farms grow as they have for thousands of years, but have never been certified by an agency that the USDA requires for you to be able to have the word organic on the label. Also, some of my favorite teas grow in the wild and there is no way for any agency to guarantee that a giant swath of the wilderness that just happens to grow tea in some places is pesticide free.
And many teas that are sold in America claim organic yet are not technically organic to other parts of the world because each country has different and changing standards they go by. This goes for all food products, not just tea.
All Wendigo teas are either pure unflavored teas or traditionally scented. I tend to use the EU (European Union) Standard which is way more strict than the USDA standard for tea quality and if I say it is organic it means really organic (not just the "organic" that is needed for USDA Organic certification in the US). EU also seems to keep up with the most recent studies on pesticides. Literally just a few days ago they added a few more chemicals to the list of banned chemicals.
The terminology does get pretty confusing. I have seen well educated tea shop owners just dumb down the explanation in order to not weird out a potential customer… EU Standard does not mean Organic and neither of them means Pesticide Free which is what Teavana got wrong a few years ago and found themselves in trouble for systematically misleading consumers.
"Teavana’s press release clearly implies that its teas meet EU pesticide standards. Yet 77% of the pure teas we tested failed such EU tests. Teavana salespeople continue to tell customers that its teas meet EU standards, meaning that in our opinion material misrepresentations continue to occur at the point of sale.” - https://glaucusresearch.com
Check this video out
I am a firm believer in buying the highest grade tea you can find and afford from a reliable and knowledgable source. Try everything you can get your hands on but your end goal should be to find a tea supplier you trust for the majority of your tea. I work really hard to always get the best and healthiest tea for Wendigo Tea Co. because that is the kind of tea I want to drink. But seriously try as many teas as you can from as many different suppliers as possible. You will thank me and most likely come back to Wendigo : )
Why We Do What We Do.
I kind of get weirded out when someone overly messes with something that people got right dozens to thousands of years ago. If it is going to be a blend it damn well better use good ingredients ( especially the tea base). Or if it is scented it better be done traditionally. For example many Jasmine scented teas in America are sprayed with a chemically extracted Jasmine scent and/or they will just throw some Jasmine flowers in there to make it seem like a natural flavor you are experiencing. When you see a bunch of Jasmine flowers in a supposedly traditional Jasmine tea they are just for show, and this is often a sign that the tea makers have no idea what they are doing.
If you are looking specifically for a high end tea then I highly suggest not using the word organic as a gauge of quality. Look for a trusted source and use your common sense. If you really care then you should be willing to pay a little more and when talking to a tea supplier look for a genuine excitement and knowledge base about the product. Certified Organic is great and all... but for me quality of the source is by far more important. And if it happens to be certified organic then that is a bonus.