07 March 2012

Is your tea organic?

Picking tea leaves at Zealong
Tea of course originates from China, where tea trees can be thousands of years old. Older tea trees are naturally resistant to pests, but outside of China it can be hard to come by trees that old! Last year around this time, I visited New Zealand’s first tea plantation, Zealong. Their teas are single source, chemical and residue free and carry the ISO22000 HACCP food safety standards certification. There’s no machine picking here, everything is done by hand. Zealong General Manager Vincent Chen, whose own family came to New Zealand from Taiwan, brings expert tea pickers from Taiwan whose nimble hands pick about 30-50 kilos of dry tea leaves each day during harvest!

The plants themselves are harvested beginning at just three years old and Vincent explains that he uses organic soyabean fertilizer and sometimes even a milk spray to naturally protect the plants from pests.

And the taste? Zealong teas tend to have a remarkably clean, crisp and fresh quality to them. You can find more of my reviews on Teaviews. The main thing to remember when buying organic is of course to check for the certification. If you can’t find this, then it’s a good idea to find out which region the tea comes from and how it's grown.