In this article I will talk about 17 wonderful benefits of organic tea in terms of health, environment, biodiversity and economic benefits.
As we are all aware, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. An Indian drinks at least 2 cups of tea per day on an average, and in US approximately 4 in 5 people consume tea. Tea has a lot of health benefits which accrue over a long period of time. Since tea is so widely consumed we should ensure that the positive benefits of tea remain and they are not cancelled out because of other factors. This is where organic tea plays a very important role, and in the next few paragraphs I will explain why organic tea is better.
Before we get started I would like to highlight that organic tea is popular more because of what it does not contain than rather for what it does – namely synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. And this in itself has a huge effect on your health and the health of your environment. I have earlier touched upon the general benefits of organic produce.
Benefits of Organic Tea
- Herbicides have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers or to cause Parkinson’s disease. Organic tea is free of herbicides.
- Synthetic pesticides are a significant health risk and may cause birth defects, nervous system damage, hormone disruptions, respiratory disorders and various types of cancers. Pesticides are not used when growing organic tea.
- Pesticides are a major cause of water pollution.
- Pesticides have been shown to reduce biodiversity, destroy bird habitats and threaten endangered species. As per newspaper reports in West Bengal at least 10 leopards and several elephants died between 1999 and 2001 due to leakage of pesticides from tea gardens. Organic tea farming directly contributes to preventing such environmental hazards.
- Organic tea agriculture sustains the health of soils, as strong chemicals are not used. In fact studies have shown mechanized farming leading to deterioration a soil quality as well as desertification in the worst case.
- Heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers in conventional tea farming depletes the land and makes it less arable. Organic tea cultivation uses a number of techniques to ensure that this does not happen.
- Cow dung is used as fertilizer.
- Cow urine is used as an insect repellent.
- Neem trees are planted for shade.
- Weeding is done manually to avoid herbicides.
- Depending on the pest infestation, many tea farmers in conventional spray their plants many times in a year. Most of the times untrained people, women and even children spray these toxic chemicals without being protected by recommended safety gear such as masks, gloves, rubber boots, and polythene aprons. Organic tea farming as explained above avoids all these and is thus better for the health of tea plantation workers.
- In Asia, conventionally grown tea is one of the most environmentally damaging crops. Because they are grown at higher levels, all the chemicals run down the mountains and wreak havoc on fields, rivers, ponds, rivers and forests below. Organic tea cultivation ensures that such things do not happen.
- Organic tea farming does not damage water sources as no artificial chemicals are used.
- Synthetic fertilizers have been shown to play a significant role in contaminating the environment. Organic tea is grown without using synthetic fertilizers.
- Another negative impact of synthetic fertilizer is that most of the nitrogen in the fertilizers is unused and seeps into waterways where it creates algae blooms, which absorb oxygen from the water and suffocate fish and other aquatic life. Organic tea farming ensures that aquatic life is not impacted.
- The nitrogen also seeps into ground-water thereby causing massive contamination. Tea grown organically does not have this kind of negative impact on ground water.
- Organic tea tastes better. China and India, the major tea producers have tried to maintain natural harmony in tea gardens resulting in unique tea flavors – however the onset of standardized mechanical farming negatively affected this uniqueness.
- The use of fertilizers hardens the soil and makes it difficult to grow crops without using stringer chemicals. This leads to a vicious cycle which damages the tea plant, the environment and the local Eco-system. Organic tea has no such detrimental effect on its key players.
- In many places in China and in some in India, tea gardens are a family business and tea garden owners prefer to use traditional organic farming techniques and use natural materials. Organic Tea typically helps support these small farmers and small farms.
- Holistic benefits of organic tea farming include improved overall health of families and communities.
- Better overall health because of consumption of organic tea, ensures lower medical costs and higher prosperity.
To conclude, it is obvious that organic tea is far superior to conventional tea because of its benefits across five fronts – your health, the health of tea plantation workers, health of wild-life and other creatures, environmental preservation and economic prosperity. Historically a country like India has always believed that as humans we must respect and revere nature because we are an integral part of it. And keeping this philosophy in mind, our farming methods have always been organic and natural.
Unfortunately, some 50 years back to embrace “modern farming techniques” Indian farmers were incentivized to follow Western agricultural practices and methods of mono-cropping, using strong artificial synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Today we can see the harm it has caused – underground water levels are depleted, water table is contaminated with chemicals from these pesticides, bugs have been more resistant and require stronger chemicals, soil quality has deteriorated and many previously green places have become arid and desert-like.
However we have now realized our mistakes and hopefully we will move to modernized “traditional” agriculture rather than Westernized agriculture, and see how of the damage can be undone. Organic tea cultivation is fast picking up pace and some of the positive changes are already visible in some places and communities.
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- Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BOH_Plantations#/media/File:Cameron_highlands_3.jpg
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