I don't really like the term Green guilt. To me, it is just an ostentatious way of saying "conscience." Everybody has a conscience and everyone (at least everyone I know) wants their food, drink and environment to be clean, healthy and natural. To that end, we try to make sustainable choices.
I'm confident that I'm doing a fair job but I'm far from perfect and I'll never be perfect. Being perfect and feeling guilty is not what life is about. Life is about loving, growing, making mistakes, learning, and evolving.
How does this relate to tea? Like anything we humans choose to consume, this issue is extremely complex and very personal. Many teas are as good as organic but not certified, while others (thankfully very rarely) may have fake organic certifications. Sometimes organic teas don't taste half as good as non-organic teas but they cost twice as much. Other times organic teas are worth every penny. The truth is that most tea is primarily a cash crop being produced on high yield mono-crop tea estates. Because of this, I find myself always on the lookout for more sustainable tea growers. These growers usually turn out to be dedicated and caring farmers with low yield farms... and their tea is often very amazing and more expensive. I would love to be able to drink these sorts of teas all the time, but the fact remains that I still drink a lot of non-organic tea. I drink all types of tea from all types of places and I like it that way. I believe that quality, non-organic tea from reputable tea vendors is a healthy and sustainable choice (especially when it's compared to some of the other things we humans chose to eat and drink).
For any readers who came to this post looking for real insights based on objective research (not always my strongest suit) I urge you to read the following articles which helped me on my own path:
"Organic Tea" by the good people behind RateTea.net
"Sustainable, Organic, Fair-Trade: A Conversation with Nigel Melican / Parts 1, 2 and 3" [Chadao blog] by Cinnabar
"Discussions on Organic Cultivation of Tea / Part 1 and 2" [Life in Teacup blog] by Gingko
Further Discussions of Quality" [The Leaf, Issue #7] by Thomas Leons and Wu De
9 hours ago