The term “organic” seems very simple, but it can be confusing for consumers. In this, there is a detailed look at the standards and law governing this important group of products, especially tea.
If a product is grown naturally or organically, then what exactly determines?
In 1990, Congress passed the OFPA (Organic Food Production Act) requiring the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) to promote national organic standards. NOP (National Organic Program) and OFPA developed requiring regulations regarding the organic products that are produced from farms or handling facilities. It gets certified by either state or private agencies that have been approved by the USDA.
The regulations also say that in production or handling, the farms or handlings facilities may not use any of the following
- Sewage Sludge
- Genetic Engineering
- Ionizing Radiation
Caffeine content is also an important factor that people consider before buying tea. As with everything else, tea gives you options with that too! Take a look at this Caffeine free tea.
How are imported organic products regulated?
- The OFPA required USDA to review the certification programs under which imported organic products are produced.
- USDA certification must apply by certifying agents in foreign countries.
- In place of USDA certification, foreign governments can estimate and approve certifying agents, under NOP requirements, with USDA approval.
- An equivalency deal arranged between the US and a country’s government may also be used instead of certification.
“Organic” labelling standards
It is the simplest part of the certification process, where it is confusing for consumers. However, the products that are labeled “organic” means you pay more, what is the meaning behind this label? The standard based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product and by law like this;
- The 100% organic labeled product must contain only organically produced ingredients.
- The 100% organic labeled product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients.
- The USDA Organic Seal may display on both.
- The phrase “made with organic ingredients” only used by those processed products that contain at least 70% of organic ingredients.
- Processed products that contain less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the word “organic” but classify components on the ingredients list that are produced organically.
What does this mean to US tea consumers?
Usually, teas are grown outside the US. Foreign agents always have done certification of teas that are grown outside the US. Now it becomes important for consumers to be concerned regarding how their teas are grown carefully with their tea suppliers. Bioterrorism laws have impacted tea importation. These bioterrorism laws monitored all imported products, especially food products that come to the US. But because of the closer look of FDA on food products, the tea importation is going smoothly, that’s why we get our favorite tea right in a cup.
Converting the lands for organic production is an expensive and lengthy process, and it’s hard for small farmers to afford. Many farmers are doing the right thing but lack the knowledge or funding necessary to become certified. In this matter, the tea industry came forward to educate small farmers. The US tea industry also helps those farmers by educating them about how to grow organic teas economically and ecologically.
Quality in taste perspective has been an issue with organic teas. Tea gardens that are converting in organic farms have faced many challenges, which is short and long term. As processes continue to develop and farmers also get more experience, the taste and quality of tea are also improving.
As you know that organic means no chemicals. Teas that are grown organically are called organic tea. Whereas, conventional teas are grown with the help of chemicals fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. These chemicals harm the environment, farmers as well as for consumers who intake food containing these chemicals. Conventional tea’s growing techniques may maximize production in the short term, but it has harmful effects on the environment and humans.
On the other hand, organic tea is grown with the use of microorganism-based natural fertilizers and pest deterrents, which are safer for the environment and the farmers.
Organic tea is grown on biodiverse small-scale farms in which farmers encourage biodiversity by using organic and biodynamic farming methods, allowing wildlife and local vegetation to flourish alongside tea farming. Conventional teas are produced for mass production, that’s why it is cultivated on large scale land, plus it eliminates species of plant and animal life.
As a supplier and an importer of premium teas, one of our main responsibilities is knowing the production standards of the gardens we work with. Ensuring quality, organic teas with excellent taste characteristics can be challenging but more become available any season.