Why Organic Tea?
We prefer organic teas over conventional teas because of the positive impact it has on the ecology. The taste of the tea is even better, especially when you learn all the good that organic tea farming can bring.
In place of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides tea planters use natural materials to maintain the health of the tea garden. Organic tea planters have come to rely upon resources found right in the tea fields.
Although labor intensive, some tea gardens cut the weed using hand-held sickles. The cuttings of the weed are then used as mulch, which adds to the carbon content of the soil. Over time this increases the humus in the soil which increases the health of the tea bushes.
Another common way to make compost in the organic tea garden is to mix cow dung with the weed cuttings. Tea workers contribute the cow dung in exchange for fodder that they can collect from the tea garden. A win, win! Vermicompost is another method often applied in organic tea gardens.
To control the many kinds of pests and bugs such as helopeltis or "mosquito bug" natural pesticides using neem plant is applied. Helopeltis, if not controlled in time can be quite detrimental. This mosquito bug is also known as elaichi kira or "cardamom bug" by the locals in Nepal and Darjeeling because they smell like the spice when crushed!
The other common pest in the tea gardens is the red spider. It emerges during the early dry winter months. The spread of spider in organic tea gardens is controlled by plucking affected leaves, deeper pruning of the tea bushes or even just by using water sprays.
The common recipe for making an organic pesticide is mixing of fermented neem, cow urine and cow dung slurry.
In organic tea gardens, herbs like horsetail, mugwort, citronella and certain kinds of ferns are cultivated along the borders of the tea garden to repel the bug, specifically the harmful varieties. Another plant, this one from oceans away, stands tall in the tea gardens as a sentinel against bugs. Called "Guatemala grass" which originates from the South American nation, the grass is also beneficial for making mulch and carbon enrichment.
These are some of the ways in which organic farming is practiced in the tea gardens. As opposed to conventional farming, the cost of producing organic tea is almost double. But we say it is worth the price because organic tea farming is more sustainable in the long run.
The only exception we make is for small artisan farmers who although practicing organic methods of farming don't have the resources to go for the certification.