I wouldn't call leachate a compost tea Wayne, teas are brewed on purpose, they can be air added or air depleting (aerobic or anaerobic), most are meant to be used as soon as the brewing phase is completed.
Most of the teas are designed to grow and then disperse microorganisms into the soil at some point, there are some that are designed to be sprayed on the leaves and trunks as a food source and or disease control.
Worm drippings (worm juice) is more about bacteria and nutrients than a tea that contains almost all of the microorganisms we want in our soil.
Some of these can be made to go wrong too simply by not using all the steps at the right time.
In this area, I feel that Eric will know more about all the particulars than I, my focus is always going to be on the microorganisms since that is what my research is centered on.
When making a compost tea correctly, you are feeding (molasses-sugars) and aerating the microbes that are in the liquid.
This in turn gets the microbes to multiply as they have lots of food and oxygen.
It's a delicate balance as if you let the process go for longer than needed the microbes will run out of food and will stop multiplying
and either die or go dormant.
My Mission is to grow nutrient dense food and teach what I have learnt to any one who will listen.
I am thinking the content of your question is leading us away from the title of your question so I will deal with them one at a time.
Question : Is making compost tea necessary? Answer : It is as necessary as fertiliser is to conventional agri-chemical growers although the focus is often different in many compost tea approaches where there is more of an emphasis on nurturing soil life. I would answer not absolutely necessary, there are always other ways of doing things, but it can be a very useful and interesting avenue that growers can go down.
Now getting onto the content.
If you have organic matter in the ground (manures, compost, etc) and it rains, are you making compost tea?
This is really a philosophical question and is stretching to limits of what compost tea is about, but just for fun I will engage with it. I think it has two aspects. 1. Does compost tea exist here ? Short answer – YES. Long answer : Compost tea would exist to the degree that decomposed matter exists in the organic matter that is mixed with water 2. Are you the direct agent regarding the first point ? It is easy to say – I got hold of a 100 gallon bubbler and added the ingredients messed around with it for a few days and decanted. In this scenario yes you made it. But agency is harder to establish with the scenario you outline. I suppose it comes down to if it was you who made the compost and spread it out. If someone really wanted to be argumentative it could be argued ‘ but you didn’t make the rain, so you are not the direct agent’, but I’m not going there.
If your question is inferring ‘how is this different from making compost tea with a bubbler’ then it could be contested that with the bubbler you have more control of what is going on and you can tweak it for specific applications. Also you can target where you want to apply it which you can’t do with the scenario you describe.
If you have a worm tower (bucket in the ground with holes, kitchen scraps added, water added that mixes with the castings and leaves from the holes, am i making compost tea.
I would concur with Dr Redhawk on this one. That is not compost tea, it’s leachate which is biologically and chemically different. The contrary could be argued but you would have to go down some very specious avenues.
Compost teas seem to be like chemistry 101 with bubblers and maybe test strips, etc. Am i missing something critical doing it lazily?
It is a matter of taste and style. The AACT method is probably more inherently technical than other options. If you understand the principles of what you are doing, know how to make good compost, and know what good compost looks feels and smells like you can make good compost tea. Having all the bells and whistles can be useful and informative, if you like that kind of thing. It would help you tweak things, gauge how things are going and give you further insight into what’s going on in the bubbler. Recently I did a couple of interviews with industry leaders and asked a question that touched on what you ask – ‘Is it necessary to use microscopy to make good compost tea’ one said ‘Yes definitely’ and the other said ‘No it’s not essential’. You have a many options to go your own way with this and at the end of the day it comes down to whether it does what is intended.