By Michelle Fish
Hard to imagine, but our epic Asian adventure started in a nondescript warehouse in an industrial park in Livonia, Michigan. Bob and I were sitting in the reception room, sipping on turmeric ginger tea, which was delicious by the way. We were chatting with the Fraser Brothers, John, Tom and Bernie. They are the mad geniuses behind Michigan’s own organic tea company, Fraser Tea. And they were about to blow my mind.
Bob and I have been on a more health-oriented path over the last few years. We buy organic whenever possible and try to eschew anything processed. I wouldn’t say we’re obsessive about it, but we do pay attention. That kind of awareness, however, had not yet drifted into the beverage category, at least not for me.
Photo Credit: Saurav Thapa Shrestha
I’m an occasional tea drinker, and out of nostalgia, the brands I gravitate towards were the same ones I enjoyed drinking growing up in England. Which is to say, they’re cheap and they’re strong. They are definitely not organic.
I said something to that affect out loud in Livonia. And you should have seen the look on the Fraser brothers’ faces! No joke, they were genuinely concerned for my wellbeing. Tom very gently enlightened me as to the error of my ways.
You see, tea is probably the most important thing to always buy organic. Here’s why: tea leaves never get washed. Never. So, anything that has been used to treat the tea bush in the field, whether it’s pesticides or fertilizer, is still on the leaf when it gets picked. And then it gets withered. And then it gets dried. And whatever is on the leaf just gets more concentrated as all the moisture is removed.
The only time that leaf comes into contact with water is when you steep it in your cup, reconstituting everything that the farmer used in the process. And then you drink it.
Over the course of my life, I have easily consumed 10,000 cups of what we used to call “builder’s tea” (which is just British slang for cheap and strong). That’s a lot of pesticides and a lot of fertilizer. And a lot of who knows what else. I am truly mortified. And I’m definitely switching to organic tea from now on.
I’m also on a mission to tell everyone I know! I encourage you to do the same. Tea is supposed to be very good for you… but only if it’s organic.