In recent years we've seen an explosion of claims and certifications on the foods we consume. It is not the desire of Adagio to judge or sway your decisions concerting what you put in your body. Therefore, we'll stick to the plain facts on the issues, and give you a deeper understanding so you can determine the proper choice for you.
To begin, one must understand what makes a product organic.
The USDA tells us that organic foods are those that are "produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation."
In other words, Organic foods must use very little chemicals during the growing process. In addition, the soil that the products are grown in must be free and clear of the same chemicals. To ensure this, farmers must let their fields lay fallow (unused) until they reach an acceptable level. As most farmers in tea growing regions are too poor to be able to afford the privilege of not making money off of their fields for years at a time, most of the tea that is produced worldwide is not certified "organic".
While "organic" does have real meaning and environmental value, it is not focused primarily on the quality of the tea and does not come with guarantees. Organic Certification controls the inputs and the process and strives to protect the environment but does not involve any testing or verification after the tea is produced to determine whether the rules were followed. Because there are no quality standards for the final product, organic certification also does not guarantee that there are no environmental pollutants or contaminants during processing or packaging. It's important to buy from growers, distributors and retailers that you trust, regardless of the certification!
Being "certified" organic is also a rather complicated process. There are hundreds of different agencies internationally that certify products as organic. Each agency has different standards, and some certifications are accepted in one country, but not others. For example, some products considered organic by the European organic association will not be considered organic by the USDA. Undoubtedly, these complications are due to political reasons as well as health concerns. It is natural to be suspect of a tea company that boasts a foreign "organic" sticker. But, on the other hand, there is no significant scientific proof showing that it is dangerous to drink a tea that is not organic. More importantly, because of the bureaucratic complexity of certifications and the small size of most premium tea producers, many teas that would qualify as organic are never formally certified.