Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are Chinese Teas Safe?

During the recent years, people often heard the bad news about Chinese teas. It is really annoying especially for the people who wish to drink tea for health benefits. Some people stopped consuming Chinese tea as they worried about the safty. Are Chinese teas safe?

At first, I think we should realize the fact that China is a very big country with very different situation in different places. I knew that teas produced in some places like Zhe Jiang province were found to have high pesticide residue. I think the main reason is that the environment in some parts of Zhejiang was ruined with the fast urbanization. A quite lot of tea gardens there are big with neat rows of trimmed tea bushes near the urban areas. We can't find forests nearby. Such ecology is fragile because once insects came, they would breed and spread very quickly and possibly consumed the whole tea garden. It became very difficult to control plant diseases and insect pests in such ecology. That is not to say tea produced from such tea gardens inevitably would exceed pesticide residue. If proper measures adopted, the tea can be safe while the balance of controling  plant diseases and insect pests  and pesticide residue is too difficult to be kept. And spurred by the economical interest, people are inclined to make the tea gardens safe on risk of letting the teas unsafe.

It is not the same for many other parts of China. There are a lot of places in China with nice environment. Huangshan, Anhui province is one of such places where is well covered with forests. The ecology here is well balanced. The tea gardens here are small and scattered among the forests of mountains. Good ecology makes the temperature of the tea gardens several degree Celsius lower than the urban areas. And as the tea gardens here are small and scattered, the possibilty of outbreak of plant diseases and insect pests on large scale is very small. Before the end of May each year, when the Spring teas are harvested, no pesticide need to be used here because the temperature is low and insects won't come out that time. 

Tea Gardens In Daguyun, Huangshan, Anhui where Huangshan Maofeng is produced
Tea Garden in Tongmu, Wuyi Mountain, Fujian where Lapsang Souchong is produced
Tea Garden in Qishan, Liu'an, Anhui where Lu'an Gua Pian is produced

When the teas are finished harvesting on June, some kinds of pesticides which conform to the safe standards of EU will be used in the gardens our teas are produced from and at the same time, the tea bushes will be trimmed. By doing so, the tea bushes can be well protected from damaging by insects in the summer. When the teas are harvested next Spring, the pesticide won't remain in the new tealeaves.

We can prove it because each year, companies in the EU source teas from us want to test the teas, each time, the teas we provided from Huangshan area were proven safe and reach the EU Standards. It is one of such reports.  Taiping Houkui is known to be havested later than Huangshan Maofeng and it is one of the teas that was thought to be most difficult to reach the standards.

In fact, EU safe standards are strict enough(stricter than the standards of the USA) and the teas can reach organic standards are quite limited and if we confined to organic teas, we would miss a lot of great Chinese teas while, in 2014, we plan to add more organic teas among our selection.

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