Organic Tea Farming in Taiwan

Organic farming Organic mark Organic tea Taiwan

Organic farming, also known as eco-farming or bio-farming, originated early in the 20th century in reaction to conventional industrialized farming practices. Organic farming advocates using fertilizers of organic origin, biological pest control, mix-cropping, and fostering of insect predators, which are beneficial to sustainability, self-sufficiency, health, food security, and food safety. The Taiwanese government started to promote organic farming in 1987. The Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES), Council of Agriculture was set up in 1988, focusing on testing tea crop types at first, then research on organic farming techniques such as weeding, organic fertilizer, etc., later providing training to tea farmers on the establishment of model tea farms and the marketing of organic tea.

Organic farming regulations

Rules and regulations relating to organic farming, including training and certification, have been set up and implemented since 2006. It was introduced in order to protect the ecosystem and sustainability of farmland in the region, rather than increase the product competitiveness in the market. Most organic tea farms are located at medium and low altitudes, probably because tea from high altitudes is preferred among consumers and most tea farmers are not in favor of converting tea farms into organic ones, considering organic farming inevitably reduces production. The majority of them are in the Nantou and Xinbei region. According to the statistics from the tea exhibition held in Nantou in October 2020, around 40% of exhibited organic tea is Black, 25% Fragrant Type Oolong, 7% Baozhong Oolong, 6% Red Oolong, 6% White, and 4% green, Dong Ding Oolong, Oriental Beauty, GABA Oolong respectively. Miaoli and Xinzhu county are particularly known for the plantation of Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren), a heavily oxidized, non-roasted oolong tea produced from leaves bitten by the tea jassid. The tea has a honey-like aroma due to terpenes released in the insect-bitten leaves. Oriental Beauty is made possible only when no insecticide is used and therefore farmers adopt an organic way of farming.

Taiwan national organic mark (CAS)

The Taiwan Accreditation Foundation (TAF) has been selected by the Council of Agriculture (COA) as the body responsible for evaluating organizations that apply as organic certifying boards. In 2006, the Certified Agriculture Standards (CAS) organic mark was regulated and recognized as the national organic mark for organic foods grown in Taiwan.

Certified Agriculture Standards (CAS) organic mark

As of 2015, there are 12 certification institutions were accredited to issue organic certification. The certified tea farms have to renew their qualification for the CAS organic mark every 2 or 3 years, and the certification institutions have an obligation to inspect the certified tea farms randomly at least once a year. The certification institutions include Mokichi Okada International Association (MOA), FSI Taiwan-Asia Pacific Office, Taiwan Organic Production Association(TOPA), Taiwan Formosa Organic Association (FOA), Green-Product Certification Division (GPCD, NCKU), Agricultural Products Approval and Certification Center (APACC), Tse-Xin Organic Agricultural Foundation (TOAF), Universal Certification Service Co., LTD, Harmony Organic Agriculture Foundation, Eco Garden, Association of Taiwan Tea, and ZhongHua Certification Co., Ltd.

From 2019 to 2020, the Taiwan authority has signed memorandums on the equivalency of organic foods certification with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, which indicated that tea certified under the Taiwanese organic organization can export organic tea to these countries without additional organic certification from each of those countries. The year 2020 is said to be the beginning of the new era of Taiwanese organic tea.

Taiwan Tea Flavor Wheel

In order to further bolster the development of the organic tea industry, TRES for the first time introduced Taiwan-tea Assortment & Grading system (TAGs) in the first annual Taiwan Organic Tea Selection held in November 2020. The TAGs system includes the Taiwan Tea Flavor Wheel framework which facilitates standardization and communication of tea quality. This new system set a milestone for the development of sustainable Taiwanese organic tea farming.

Baozhong tea

Fragrant strip type baozhong tea flavor wheel

Fragrant ball type tea

Fragrant ball type oolong tea flavor wheel

Heavy Roasting ball type tea

Heavy Roasting ball type flavor wheel

Oriental beauty tea

Oriental beauty tea flavor wheel

Taiwan black tea


 Taiwan black tea flavor wheel

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