A Chinese classic. Freshly-picked organic jasmine blossoms are mixed with organic green tea, and removed after leaving their ethereal, floral scent behind. Choice Organic Green Tea is a Chinese classic, produced only during August when the Jasmine flowers bloom. Freshly-picked blossoms are mixed with organic green tea, and removed after leaving their ethereal, floral scent behind.
Choice Organic Teas are manufactured in a certified organic facility where Green-e Certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind power are purchased to offset 100 percent of the facility's electricity. A firm belief in organics, with a dedication to ensure the ethical treatment of workers who cultivate tea, and a team of dedicated employees at Choice Organic Teas, has made the company a modern day tea pioneer.
Toxic chemicals are bypassed, freeing soil from exposure to harmful herbicides and pesticides. Workers instead rely on substances such as compost, natural organic matter, and plants to provide the necessary ground cover and nutrients. Weeds and insects are controlled with traditional techniques such as crop rotation, mulching, and the encouragement of "beneficials" - such as extra, pest-controlling spiders. Organic soil also has far more earthworms and soil microbes.
Studies show that healthy, live soil at an organic tea garden returns far higher crop yields per unit of energy and fertilizer expended than conventional farming methods. Diversity is healthy.
Better for wildlife
Organic cultivation of tea is better for local wildlife. The Soil Association, an international organization for organic cultivation, notes that a typical organic field has five times as many wild plants, 57 percent more animal species, and 44 percent more birds than a conventionally cultivated farm. Conventional synthetic herbicides and pesticides often kill non-target animals, plants, and insects.
The Times of India reported that at least 10 leopards and five elephants died between 1999 and 2001 due to leakage of pesticides from tea gardens in West Bengal. Certainly more have died since then. When mixed with other solvents, these pesticides exert a massive toxic effect on the environment for a long duration, affecting birds, animals and humans.
Safer for humans
If organic farming is safer for wildlife, it is certainly safer for the workers in the tea gardens. On conventional tea estates, the health security for the workers is very low. According to Oxfam, a British non-profit agency working to put an end to poverty world-wide, the spraying of pesticides on tea estates is often done by untrained casual daily wage workers, sometimes even by children and adolescents, who are illiterate and cannot read the warnings on the containers.
Many tea farmers spray their plants upwards of 15 to 20 times each year depending on pest infestations. Most of the chemicals they are using (such as - Aldrin 20E, Carbofuran 30, Endosulfan 35 EC, Malathion 50 EC, Tetradifon 8 EC, Calixin 80 EC) are listed as hazardous and toxic, and a number of them are banned in western countries. Despite the dangers of exposure to toxic materials, workers frequently are barefoot and in shorts rather than protected by recommended safety gear such as masks, gloves, rubber boots, and polythene aprons.
Choice Organic Teas response
Ultimately, the decision to buy organic products is a choice you make for yourself. If you were to buy a conventional apple at the store, you'd be sure to wash it off before eating it. With tea, though, the first time you "wash" the leaves is when you brew the tea to drink it.
Why Fair Trade?
On many traditional estates, tea workers live on the estate and toil long, hard hours for extremely low wages. The development of Fair Trade Certified tea standards guarantees fair wages, respectable living and working conditions, and a worker-managed premium. This premium represents additional funds, which are paid by Fair Trade registered importers like Choice Organic Teas directly to tea workers. It empowers them to improve their own lives. The workers collectively decide how they wish to manage the Fair Trade funds.
Here's how some worker communities have chosen to use the Fair Trade premiums received in part by the purchase of Choice Organic Teas.
The women who pluck tea on the Korakundah Tea Estate, in the famed Nilgiri region of India, use the funds received from Fair Trade premiums to help support themselves upon retirement. Now, retired tea pluckers receive a monthly pension and funds to help build a home when they return to settle in their native villages.
The Next Generation
Workers at the United Nilgiri Tea Estate in India chose to use funds received from Fair Trade premiums to purchase a school bus, allowing students to continue their education through the 12th grade. Previously, children who lived in the neighboring village amid hilly terrain were able to attend school only at a local elementary school. But due to their deep poverty, there was no money for transportation, and the children could not attend any advanced grades. Now, local children are bussed to a school where they are taught both English and the local Tamil language.
The tea workers at the Koslanda Tea Estate, in Sri Lanka, have voted to use Fair Trade premiums to provide their community with low interest loans that would otherwise be unattainable. Households have purchased propane stovetops, eliminating hours of collecting firewood, improving the indoor air quality of their homes, and preventing deforestation of the surrounding area. The purchase of sewing machines has meant a diversification of income.
The tea estate workers who produce our organic White Tea have chosen to use their premium to provide scholarships to estate children who want to attend university. The premiums also are dispensed to tea workers and their families in need of emergency surgery beyond the means of the local estate hospital.
The workers with the Bergandal Boerdery collective who harvest native Rooibos in the perfect growing conditions of South Africa use the funds received from Fair Trade premiums to guarantee the sustainability of their existing community programs. Classes currently encompass HIV/AIDS education, first aid treatment, and life skills training for women.