Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Sustainable Tea

This Saturday, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is having a very cool local food event. They'll have workshops on the best foods to grow locally, how to grow in limited NYC space, sustainable watering practices, and more.

The only workshop addressing "tea" is "Brewing Compost Tea" (which, for those of you unitiated to the ways of composting, is nothing you'd want to drink!), but I think that this relates to the bigger picture of tea in that it has to do with the choices we make about what we consume. More and more people are turning to not only local, but organic, biodynamic, fair trade, and sustainably packaged foods and drinks. This is especially true of tea and other "luxury" or "specialty" foods. (I still find it funny that you can get an exceptional loose-leaf tea for about 25 cents a cup, yet it still gets pigeonholed as a "luxury item." Sure, it's luxurious, but it costs much less than your average soda!) This trend is growing in both the US and in the UK. Organic teas are becoming easier and easier to find (some companies, like Zhi Tea, sell only organic teas), and fair trade teas are following close behind in many areas. Sustainable packaging will be addressed at the next World Tea Expo and (I think) will become increasingly popular in the tea market. Now it's even possible to buy local tea in the US (if you live in South Carolina, Washington state, or Hawaii, or if you know the right people). Tea is one of the few (only?) foods that is closely linked to both foodie and health culture.

I am very interested to see where it will go as trends from both sides influence its production, processing, packaging, and marketing in the US and elsewhere. What do you see in the future of tea? Anyone care to read the leaves and speak up on the issue?

PS--The event I mentioned before rambling, Making Brooklyn Bloom, is free if you print out a flyer from their site.

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