Have you ever thought of where tea comes from? Thousands of years ago, there must have been a brave soul who randomly picked some leaf from a bush/tree and infused it with water and made the first cup of tea in history, some legends suggested that the origin can date back almost 5000 years. Since then, a lot of tea knowledge has been discovered, their varieties were identified; and their flavours and medicinal effect for Chinese herbal medicine have been studied extensively. As tea popularity has grown and with the invention of farming, tea was successfully cultivated from their wild counterpart and is known as ‘cultivars’. Before the industrial revolution and the invention of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, all farm tea or cultivars were grown ‘organically’. But with the demand soaring and the desire to drive cost down (but at the same time, to maintain the yield), industrial (or chemical assisted) farming became inevitable. More recently, and importantly, we have become far more aware of both health and environmental impacts. As a result. we are heading back to organic farming.
All cultivated teas are like most other live stocks, plants or commodities, farming can maximise the yield but almost certainly cannot preserve their original characteristic. Farm teas, whether they are traditionally, organically or even biodynamically farmed, they are cultivated from some parent tea trees that live in their natural wild habitat. Throughout the farming process, the tea trees would slowly lose some of their natural characteristics. Firstly, it is because they are now living in a man-made environment where conditions could be far from their original habitat. Secondly, with the love of our tea farmers, the trees now have access to unlimited supplies of water and nutrients which mean the trees do not have to work so hard to survive. All these factors result in significantly weaker tea trees which sometimes can be more prone to bugs or viral infection (therefore, increasing usage of growth hormones and pesticides). And, will most certainly, the trees lose some of their original tea favours.
So why don’t we go back to wild tea, while we still can…. Before the forests and valleys slowly turn into cities.