Types and Kinds of Teas

The oldest recorded tea for plants is a manure tea. Animal manure + water + time.
For the purpose of this definition, earthworm castings and bat guano are manures.

Teas that are made by steeping a material in water is considered to be anaerobic and is therefore highly probable to produce non-beneficial microbes because the air surface cannot provide sufficient air to microbes in the lower portions of the containment. In other words, the depth of the liquid in the container is greater (deeper) than the surface area.

MANY microbes can live in such low-oxygen environment. Leachate tea (water that has leached through a compost pile) is a good example. Although leachate can contain a wide range of microbes species (diversity) by concentrating the leachate back through the pile repeatedly, such a liquid will only support a limited population (density) because of reduced foods and oxygen content. But it is rare that leachate becomes anaerobic because leachate achieves a balance of dissolved nutrients and air to support microbe reproduction.

Below is a list of the types/kinds of teas, and will expand each one with more detail as time permits:

  • Manure Tea
  • Compost Leachate
  • Compost Extract
  • Plant (fermented) Tea
  • Bacteria-specific 'Soup'
  • Anaerobic Tea
  • Non-Aerated Compost Tea
  • Aerated Compost Tea (ACT)
  • Activated Aerated Compost Tea (AACT)
  • Activated Fortified Aerated Compost Tea (AFACT)

In order for any tea to propagate microbes exponentially, the MINIMUM content of dissolved oxygen in the water MUST be greater than 6 ppm. Which is also 6 milligrams per liter.

Most small-batch aerated teas do not reach this level of dissolved oxygen, and so are quite limited in producing a strong tea with good diversity.

There are also a plant-based teas. Chopped plant parts + water + time. Plant teas are OK, but are usually anaerobic teas. Anarobic microbes can also decompose organic matter. Slowly, and a bit on the smelly side, but effective. However, great care should be taken when making anaerobic teas, because they can produce substances toxic to plants.

Aerobic teas are faster, have much higher propagation rates and don't produce offensive odors.

However, some compost teas are made from low-quality compost (poor diversity) - so they cannot be considered high-quality no matter how long they brew. If the diversity of microbial populations do not exist in the compost that the tea is made with - then the tea brew will only contain those microbe populations - and the tea brew will be deficient in microbe diversity.

The basic premis of ANY compost tea - is that the tea is NEVER any better than the quality of the compost that the tea is made from.

Assuredly, aerobic teas produce higher numbers (density) of beneficial microbes than any other tea-making method. "Beneficials" are those microbes that have been identified as supportive of healthy plants. The majority of beneficial microbes need oxygen to propagate. The majority of NON-beneficial microbes do NOT need aerobic conditions to propagate - and in fact, most anaerobes only breed in less than 3 ppm dissolved oxygen. Faculative microbes can propagate in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

There are over 75,000 species of bacteria, and over 15,000 species of fungi and 8,000 species of protozoa (flagelates, amoeba and ciliates) that can propagate in compost tea.

Beneficial microbes do not cause plant diseases. Anaerobic microbes do most of the damage to plants. Yes, those statements are generalities... And also, 'beneficial' depends on each individual gardener's perspective too. What one person considers to be a beneficial plant, others may consider to be a weed.

In ROI's perspective, if a microbe helps a plant to produce a tastier, healthier and more abundant harvest (to the senses), of both humans and other creatures considered by humans to be beneficial - then the microbe is beneficial.
Non-beneficial microbes get called lots of other names too...Especially when a gardener finds that a prized plant is suffering from a disease.

No matter what kind of tea is used, the results are usually better than if the tea had not been used.

Based on the current state of research, it is IMPOSSIBLE to apply too much compost tea to a plant - either foliar or root drench or both.

How a tea is made, differentiates the strength of the tea, in terms of microbe populations - and method of application determines effective plant coverage. Normally, plant leaf surfaces are sprayed/misted with un-diluted concentrate, and root drenches are applied with tea concentrate being diluted into "carrier" water to ensure that sufficient microorganisms are moved down into the full root zone of the plant.

More information will be posted soon...

Click Here to see: Compost Containments
Click Here to see:COMPOST PILES