How much does ORGANIC mean to you?
Non-organic matcha (conventional matcha) is cheaper in prices, brighter in color, and richer in taste due to fertilize manipulation. Interesting enough organic produce is not popular in Japan - you could hardly find any organic apples or bananas in their supermarkets in oppose to here in North America. Why?
People are easily attracted to larger, plumper, and sweet-tasting fruits; the more expensive yet smaller ones are left behind. This discourages farmers to grow foods organically and Japan is a very chemistry-advanced country that they invent all different kinds of artificial fertilizers to support plants' growth. The land is also scarce comparing to its dense population so they will have to use pesticides to ensure the crop production is consistent every year.
Matcha is a very delicate and expensive tea. For those top grades matcha, you rarely find it grow organically. The two most reputable matcha producers, Ippodo Tea & Marukyu Koyamaen, only carry one to two kinds of organic matcha, and the rest of ten grades are all conventional. Here're the reasons:
1. matcha is shade-grown (and this is what sets it apart from regular powdered green tea). During the shading process, matcha plants couldn't get enough energy from the sun, and it needs extra nitrogen to support its growth. Organic matcha farmers are restricted to using those industrial-strength fertilizers, so they buy those organic-certified fertilizers instead; however most of the time those are not strong enough to make their matcha taste as good as conventional ones.
2. High grade matcha are very limited in quantity (we're not talking about those $1/g ceremonial grade - we're talking about $2 or more per gram high-end grade), and matcha production depends on many uncontrollable factors such as weather. In addition to those factors, pest is another farmer's enemy that possibly will reduce matcha production. Conventional matcha farmers will have to use toxic pesticide to ensure pest-control is in place.
BUT... is Organic matcha really inferior than conventional ones?
Not necessarily! Before we tell you why our organic grade (especially our competition grade and Ultra premium Ceremonial grade) is on par with conventional grades, let's take a look at the benefits of Organic farming in general. By choosing certified organic products, you're helping to
1. Minimize toxic chemical consumption
Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in commercially grown food.The average application equates to about 16 pounds of chemical pesticides per person every year. Many of these chemicals were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before extensive diet testing.
2. reduce pollution, enhance soil & water quality
Agricultural chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers are contaminating our environment, poisoning our precious water supplies, and destroying the value of fertile farmland. Certified organic standards do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming and require responsible management of healthy soil and biodiversity.
2. improve habitats
Preservation of soil and crop rotation keep farmland healthy, and chemical abstinence preserves the ecosystem. Wildlife, insects, frogs, birds, and soil organisms are able to play their roles in the tapestry of ecology, and we are able to play ours, without interference or compromise.
3. conserve biodiversity
The rampant loss of species occurring today is a major environmental concern. It is estimated that 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost in the last century.
4. Support Organic Farmers
Every dollar you spent is a vote. By buying organic produces, you're giving confidence and credits to organic farmers so they can continue to supply the best and healthiest foods.
5. A brighter future
This is not political slogan; this is a fact. If we all start to contribute little by little, we will see a collective impact for the future.
Back to our organic matcha.
Personally I had such a hard and long time finding great-tasting organic matcha, because 99% of organic matcha farmers use the similar organic-certified fertilizers resulting in poor taste. I guess those organic fertilizers are more cost effective. Our tea farm owner formulates his own natural fertilizer so it's very unique to our matcha, and you wouldn't find a similar one even closer to ours.
Are you supporting organic farming? Your thoughts are welcome!