At Tea Palace, sourcing of our teas, infusions and ingredients is taken very seriously. Aside from the high quality standards and excellent provenance that we demand before we will consider adding an item to our range; there is an increasing concern with regards to sustainable farming and the chemicals that can be present in some foods.
Because of this, we decided very early on that we would make a pledge to support ethical principles in our sourcing; and in order to demonstrate that commitment we will always ensure that we have a range of the finest organic teas and infusions available.
Organic leaves and ingredients can be sourced the world over, with many countries also having their own specific legislation with regards to organic farming.
Whilst non-organic farming is still the preference throughout the world; due to increasing demand from customers for responsibly farmed, demonstrably healthier consumables it is a growing trend in farming with an increasing number of farmers switching to organic processing.
In addition to each country's own legislation with regards to organic farming; Europe has probably the most extensive organic screening process in the world. This scrutiny is applied not just to goods grown within Europe, but also to everything imported from outside the zone.
This standard of screening and scrutiny has resulted in certification which is considered amongst the most reliable in the world - namely the Soil Association's Organic Certificate and the EU Organic Certification
Thankfully, most of the same farmers and producers who are concerned enough about responsibility and sustainability to adopt organic farming are equally as concerned about the quality of their produce as how it is produced.
Our relationships with organic farmers and producers tend to be more communicative than some others by necessity, this allows us to select produce on a micro scale including when in the harvest our leaves are picked, to what altitudes we prefer for them to be grown in.
Organic produce is often likely to be produced using more traditional farming and collection methods and so harvests are often scrutinised by hand in order to ensure that naturally occurring inclusions such as soil are removed prior to shipping - this is also checked on arrival into our warehouse to ensure quality
On occasion, harvests fail and this can cause the occasional, but inevitable, supply issues
The attributes of organic leaves and ingredients are as wide and varied as their individual types but there are some characteristics that can help define organic produce
Organic tea leaves often display less astringency than their non-organic alternatives, whilst usually having a much more pungent aroma of unprocessed tea leaves. This can give organic varieties a sweeter scent than other types of leaves, even in black teas where the same processing methods have been used. Sometimes this can also come through in the flavour, sometimes introducing subtle, complex notes similar to those found in white teas
With organic ingredients, the most commonly noticed common characteristics is the presence of non-uniform shapes and inclusions - especially in petals and fruits. This is far from a drawback as it can result in a cup with very unique characteristics
Organic accreditation does not only apply to how we source our leaves and ingredients, it also applies to how we manage these items in our warehouse as well. Due to this we maintain rigorous standards of checking, storage and handling on our own premises.
Each and every batch of organic materials are rigorously searched and tested on arrival in our warehouse to ensure that they meet the regulatory requirements and our own extremely high quality standards.
Once we accept the materials, each and every batch is tracked and stored and handled in a different environment and with different tools than non-organic products. This ensures that we maintain their organic integrity whilst on site with us, and also that each and every batch can be tracked back to source, both whilst still in our warehouse or after the final goods have been despatched