Mr. Dai and Family, Anhui, China
Mr. Fang, Anhui, China
|We like small farm teas, not only because we want to support the small farmer, but because their teas often taste better. Large estate teas are blends of machine processed teas with a wide range of quality. Tea is only as good as its weakest component. When modern technology is introduced, it generally serves only to increase efficiency at the expense of quality. Small farm teas are hand-grown and crafted with great care and pride. Farmers prepare diligently for annual tea competitions. They put their hearts and centuries of tradition into their teas. Techniques developed by their ancestors are still in use today.
In certain areas of the world, economic pressures are intense for small tea farmers. Many are lured by dreams of riches to the cities. The collectives who pay the farmers are usually more concerned with low prices than high quality. Recently, in some areas of China, farmers have simply left their tea to wilt on the bush. They cannot afford the effort and expense of processing, only to sell for low prices. When you purchase tea from us, you are helping to support threatened farming traditions.
Organic farming is most successful on a small scale. Small farmers are more likely to be using organic and chemical-free techniques to grow and process their teas. Pesticides, fertilizers or mechanical cutting are expensive. Individual farmers have the incentive to use things already on their farms and thus practice age-old sustainable growing techniques. The alternative to small farmers is chemically grown, mechanically harvested and processed, uniform teas of low quality. They hold no interest for the connoisseur. There's little adventure in a cup of bagged tea, blended for consistency. Cultural history and geography are lost; all mystery evaporates with them.
Help us support these agricultural artisans and allow them to continue their wonderful craft. When you buy artisan teas, you provide its makers with good prices for their products, allowing them to stay on the farm and keep their traditions alive. In addition, In Pursuit of Tea will donate a portion of our profits to organizations that promote sustainable and organic production techniques.
For more about the term "organic," please read this excerpt from an April 19, 2005, article in the Wall Street Journal by Katy McLaughlin. We think it does an excellent job of encapsulating why there is so much misleading information about organic farming:
"...The government's imprimatur on organic food [standardizing what is meant by 'organic' starting in October 2002] was supposed to simplify things, to make it easier for consumers to know what they were eating. But confusion remains. For example, many consumers don't realize that 'organic' doesn't indicate food proven to be healthier. While the Organic Trade Association, a trade group for the industry, says there is 'mounting evidence' that organic produce is more nutritious than nonorganic food, many scientists reject this claim. Detailed, controlled analyses and long-term studies will need to be conducted to settle the question. Meanwhile, there are now lots of organic cookies, ice cream and chips that are just as fattening, sugary, and salty as any nonorganic alternatives.
"Some consumers also tend to assume that organic means no chemical pesticides were used. But organic regulations do allow for pesticides from a list of acceptable chemicals....
"Organic also doesn't necessarily mean that the food was grown by small, family farmers. This fact rankles some activists like the Cornucopia Institute, an advocacy group for small family farms. This year, the organization filed complaints with the USDA about three major organic dairies, including one owned by Horizon Organic, a unit of Dean Foods, the largest organic dairy marketer in the U.S., alleging that these operations don't comply with organic rules that require cows to feed on pasture grass. Instead, the complaints say, the farms confine cows to feedlots and feed them organic grain, a less expensive method of production. The USDA has started an investigation into the complaints."