tea and ecology in taiwan

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NaturallyGrownTea2.jpg
Naturally grown tea in central Taiwan
A trend noticed in Taiwan is the attention being directed toward wild, organic and "naturally grown" teas. Farmers experiment by searching for truly wild teas to process, as well as using organic or no fertilizers when growing teas.

Organic certification is said to be reasonably inexpensive, so the excuse that certification is too expensive is invalid in Taiwan. One farmer even said if anything, it costs too little to certify teas as organic, and people get away with looser standards for certification than is optimal.

"Naturally grown" teas comprise teas that are not only grown without pesticides, but those grown without fertilizers, and left to grow with and among whatever other plants that might crop up in the tea garden.  I saw this happening in Mao Kong, Dong Ding, Da Yu Ling, Fu Shou Shan, and lower areas of Lishan--areas where one finds Ti Kuan Yin, Dong Ding, high mountain, and black teas from Taiwan. 

This is an interesting and heartening trend that deserves attention. When teas are left to grow "naturally", crop yields decline, but the quality of the teas, and more importantly, the quality of the soil, increases. This also makes healthier tea for the consumer.  Without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, you get the full benefits of the leaf, and the soil from which it is grown is allowed to regenerate. 

There is growing concern in Taiwan that many high mountain teas are harming the environment because the large quantity of chemical herbicides and pesticides used on many of these teas runs down the mountain and into the public drinking water supply. Some Taiwanese people even boycott such teas (primarily the high mountain teas) in opposition to the environmental hazards posed by the production of these teas.

As consumers, we can make a difference by asking questions of our tea shop and tea house owners as to the production methods used on the teas they sell. Many merchants carry teas that have been processed chemically, and while no one intends to throw stones-- particularly at those who are providing quality teas-- it is time for all of us to consider the impact of our buying habits and choices, and to make our best effort to support sustainable growing and processing methods.

The "one planet" mindset helps us to consider how our choices effect people across the world who pay the consequences of consumer choices elsewhere and who gain or lose their land and their health because of our choices.

Here is our video on Ecologically Grown Teas in Taiwan.
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