What you drink is a major component of most modern diets. Almost all diets can agree that sodas are no good and most say the same about alcohol. Some to tell you that alcohol is fine in moderation, and even beneficial, but they all tell you not to drink too much. The same goes for coffee. Most diets say coffee is okay, as long as you don’t overdo it. But the one drink no one ever says not to overdo is tea.
With our focus on an organic lifestyle, it should be obvious that we recommend organic tea above all else. The difference is basically the same as for other plants. Organic tea growers do not use pesticides or other chemicals to grow their tea. They grow using ancient methods so that the leaves you get are pure and free of any harmful substances.
Is Organic Tea Actually Organic
The problem is that, apart from Japan, most teas that we consume come from either China, India or Kenya. All three of those countries have a long tradition of lying about something like the organic nature of their products. They might have organic stamps, but you certainly cannot trust them. Even though the government in some of these countries, especially China, claims they’re doing their best to regulate the organic industry and ensure that anything labeled as organic actually is organic, there’s just so much corruption within the government organizations in all three of these countries, that you can’t be sure you’re actually getting organic tea.
So what can you do?
As with so many other foods, the best solution is to grow your own. Yes, it is very possible to grow your own tea. Tea likes to have a relatively warm climate, but it likes the high altitude where it is a bit cooler. So basically, a subtropical high-altitude climate. Tea plants also need a lot of water. All the tea growing regions in the world are very humid and they get a lot of rain. If you live in an area where you do not have this type of climate, you might be thinking “too bad.” “I guess I can’t grow tea.” That is not true.
Grow Your Own Tea
You can actually grow tea indoors. Just like marijuana or any organic flowers or vegetables or herbs or fruits, you can also grow tea inside. Obviously, you need to provide the water and the light in these cases. You’ll need to provide a lot of water and you want to keep the grow area quite humid. For this reason it is a good idea to have an enclosed grow space, like maybe a greenhouse or just a simple grow tent.
Good Grow Lights For Tea
For light, tea actually uses less light than many plants. It doesn’t flower, so you really just need good vegging lights. LED grow lights are good for this or florescent lights or you could use metal halide lights, although I would only recommend that for a larger garden. Personally, I would get one good LED fixture that has a lot of blue spectrum light, since you don’t need as much red spectrum light for plants that don’t flower. Apart from that I might get a fluorescent fixture or an LED fixture like the NextLight Veg 8, which basically mimics a fluorescent fixture but is better in every way.
Processing And Oxidizing The Tea
Tea is not all that hard to grow. The hardest thing will be harvesting at the right time and then processing the freshly picked leaves the correct way. As soon as you pick the leaves, they start to oxidize. If you want white tea you don’t let them oxidize very long at all and you generally use very young shoots. This means you would harvest very early.
For green tea you let them oxidize a bit but only it a little bit. Then you need to stop the oxidation process by using heat. You either roast the tea, as is common in China, or you steam the tea, as is more common in Japan. Either way you heat it to stop the oxidation process. If you let it oxidize completely, you get black tea.
For oolong tea you would stop somewhere in between green tea and black tea. There is actually a large variety of oolong teas. Some are just slightly oxidized and are almost green teas and others are much more oxidized. Darjeeling tea is a good example of the latter. Most people consider it a black tea, but it is actually an oolong tea.
Finally, there are also yellow tea and pu-erh tea, but I wouldn’t worry about those two. They are much more rare and much more complicated and if you are a first-time grower, you’re probably just going to make green tea or black tea or maybe oolong tea. In fact you will probably end up with oolong tea by accident.
Either way, your new organic tea will taste great and you’ll hopefully have studied up on the best way to brew and drink your variety. A safe bet for almost all types of tea is a nice see-through teapot with a strainer so you can watch the tea leaves unfurl. The infuser is not necessary, but it makes it much simpler to keep the tea leaves out of your cup. Many places in China just brew tea in a glass, so it is certainly possible to make good tea without an infuser. However you choose to drink it, I hope you enjoy your first batch and I know that your second will be much better than the first and your third better than that. Happy growing!