Chatting to White Peony Tea Maker Mr. Yang Jian in Dahei Garden, Yunnan China.
Our Organic Sourcing Journey.
Our Organic Sourcing Journey
Why we are making the Organic switch.
Organic Assam Gold Tonganagaon Garden, Assam, India. This single garden creates a unique organic Assam back tea with refined red berries and honey flavours.
What's the difference between Certified Organic vs Made Without Pesticides?
Either or is quite important. The Made Without Pesticides standard is our way of encouraging zero use of pesticides but without the significant expense of organic certification. It’s more suited to some of our smaller gardens, who export only a very small part of their tea and can’t justify formal certification. To meet the standard, we insist that the garden doesn’t use pesticides at any time of year, and we send the finished tea to a lab for intensive screening to ensure no residues are detected.
Zero use of pesticides and herbicides has similar advantages to certified organic practices for biodiversity in the garden, health of tea garden communities, producers, and our tea drinking customers.
Tom with Red Dragon Tea Maker Chen Qiguang in Ximeng Garden, Yunnan, China. A small single garden which has a long standing Made Without Pesticides Certification with JING.
It's rare to find a breakfast style tea from an organic single garden. Our Organic Yunnan Breakfast can be enjoyed with or without milk.
Where is JING on its organic journey?
Today, we sit at around 70% organic, representing an enormous change throughout our supply chain.
Some things haven’t changed – the organic teas I have selected all have the same character, taste, and individuality. That was the brief, to move to organic without compromising quality. Some voices in the tea industry would be sceptical that this is possible, and it’s true – I found some origins where organic tea distinctly differs from the flavours we expect.
Assam is a good example: organic Assam is hard to find with similar bright red colour and punchy texture for a good breakfast tea. Japan is another place where conventional teas are often considered higher quality. In other areas, such as Yunnan in China, organic agriculture is becoming more widespread, and excellent examples already exist, such as our Organic Yunnan White Peony and Organic Yunnan Breakfast.
Exploring the Tea Garden & Meeting Wang Yueshi
Skilled tea masters have been making their version of yellow tea in Beigang, Yueyang City in Hunan for centuries, but until recently it's mostly been unknown outside its local area.
Marusen Isagawa Cooperative in Japan where our Organic Genmaicha is from. A rare but exciting find for Tom in 2022.
Wang Yueshi began his tea mastery making Jun Shan Silver Needle, the most famous of the rare yellow tea category. He has spent a lifetime honing the precision and skill of yellowing and understanding his terroir to become one just a few recognised yellow tea masters.
Lately he’s combined this yellowing skill, his experience of modern tea making techniques and knowledge of the terroir to create authentic Beigang Maojian.
What are your favourite organic teas in our range?
Of the organic teas we’ve added in the past couple of years, here are a few of my favourites:
There's lots of organic black tea in Yunnan, but not so much aimed at the style needed for breakfast tea, with strong and impactful flavour when adding milk. So, I spend a lot of time sourcing each batch of this tea, and the current one is very satisfying, with a toffee sweetness that takes me back to first tasting this type of tea when I lived in Beijing in the early 2000s. It was a great pleasure to visit this garden for the first time on our spring 2023 sourcing trip. We could clearly see how the local conditions and a high mountain tea garden with native large-leaf cultivar contribute to this tea's unique character.
A spectacular view of Yuyeang City, Hunan province.
Wang’s garden sits on the shores of Dong Ting Lake in Hunan. At low altitude the bushes are kept thick and the garden kept lush by both the proximity to the water, the sandy soil and Wang’s commitment to organic production.
When Tom visited this spring it was both hot and showery, a typical spring in this area, and delightful conditions for the four or so weeks a year succulent yellow tea is made here.
Only the freshest and tenderest buds are picked in March prior to the local Qingming festival
The vital stats
Origin: Yuyeang City, Hunan province
Cultivar: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis
Name: Beigang Maojian
Style: Wang has taken a local cultivar similar to our Baojing Gold and yellowed the fresh spring leaves in the traditional way
Picking Season: Spring 2023
Leaf: Dark olive twists of leaf with silvery-grey tips
Production: Made Without Pesticides
Our Beijgang Maojian's dry leaf is dark olive whole leaf twists with silvery-grey tips
Organic Sencha from Marusen Isagawa Cooperative, Shizuoka, Japan. A personal new favourite addition to our organic range.
This is one of the first teas we added after deciding to increase the proportion of organic teas in our range. Of the two styles of white peony tea in Yunnan, this is the greener style and brings with it rose aromas and a subtle fruity flavour, which took me some time to pin down but finally concluded, this reminded me most of nectarine. Its mellowness is a real feature, and I find myself reaching for it when otherwise undecided or in need of a comforting tea, perhaps with a hangover.
The mountainous garden sitting at 1900m above sea level in Dahei Garden, Yunnan China. .
Most organic Japanese tea is from Kagoshima, but this one retains the Shizuoka origin of our non-organic version. It has the same high mountain character because it's from a similar area, very aromatic and floral with just a little astringency characteristic of the region, making it an excellent green tea for colder weather.
What’s next for our organic range transformation?
The teas that prove most stubborn for finding good organic examples are some of the traditional oolong types, famous in China and rarely exported. This is the next area of focus, and we have decided to work more closely with promising gardens to encourage a switch to our Made Without Pesticides standards. However, there will need to be a transition period. Typically, a conventional garden turning toward organic certification will spend three years before the certificate is issued. The most recent find is an organic version of our Wuyi Oolong, which is a Water Sprite cultivar – a tea I'm very excited about and looking to launch early in 2024...
Drying – After the desired oxidation level is achieved, the leaves are carefully dried to remove any remaining moisture. This helps stabilize the tea and prepares it for packaging and storage
For a single serve, use 4g (or 3tsp) of tea for 250ml.
Much like their green tea cousins, yellow teas also appreciate a cooler water temperature. The easiest way to do this is add about 20% cool water to the leaves first, and then top up the rest with freshly boiled water to level out the heat.
Infuse for three minutes, and, as always, pour out the whole infusion into a good mug or glass. Since it's been made cool, you’ll be able to drink it immediately, take a moment to notice the flavours changing as your infusions cools even further.
This is our go-to method: 4g/2tsp per 250ml; 80˚C; 3 minutes per infusion.
Mr Wang and Tom admire the view of the tea garden - the rain is welcomed after a long drought in Hunan
Who is it for?
With it’s authentic barley sugar flavour, this is a great introduction for anyone wishing to get a handle on this mellow, complex and rewarding tea category. It’s also a welcome alternative if you find green tea too grassy, but you’re still after something refreshing and light.
Switch Up Your Tea