Tea with a Conscience
Author: Caitlyn, Chermside Date Posted:27 October 2017
At The Tea Centre, our dedication to sourcing the finest quality tea extends to a social and environmental responsibility. Our ethically-sourced Ceylon tea comes from the Kelani Valley Plantations company in Sri Lanka, and a number of our teas are sourced from the Small Farmers Tea Project (SFTP) in India. Both have similar objectives: empowering tea workers and ensuring thei
Small Farmers Tea
The Tea Centre has stocked tea from gardens run by small farming cooperatives associated with the SFTP for a number of years. The SFTP is comprised of small producers who work together to coordinate the trading of tea directly from their plantations, rather than from large-scale colonial plantations. Worker-owned plantations ensure that tea producers are paid a fair price for their tea and can maintain sustainable practices. This further empowers small farmers who have long been marginalised and have suffered economically. The SFTP initiative has an enormously positive effect on the quality of life for small farmers and their families.
The Tea Centre’s Kerala tea is from a cooperative of 1,088 farmers from the Idukki district of Kerala in southern India. Due to environmental sensitivity, the mountainous region of Kerala has suffered from degradation, deforestation and erosion. The SFTP has made rebuilding the area and repairing environmental damage two of its important objectives.
The majority of Kerala tea is cultivated organically, with small farmers using a variety of herbs to control pests and improve the nutrition of the soil. As a result, tea produced by this region is organic and full of flavour. Try the Organic Kerala Large Leaf OP for a medium-bodied tea with a woody flavour and Organic Kerala Small Leaf BOP, which is a bold brew with notes of muscatel.
Our Bengal tea is sourced from the Putharjhora tea estate of the Himalayas in eastern India. Produced under the Teesta Small Farmers Committee, this cooperative comprises 56 small farmers from 5 villages who produce high-quality and organic tea. Before this initiative, the small farmers of this region were economically disadvantaged, but now the profits of this venture have funded education and healthcare. Teesta’s approach to production has included methods to ensure environmental sustainability by utilising natural resources in the region that do not disturb the soil and ecosystem. The farms and villages in this cooperative are situated at an altitude of 1500-1700 metres, which is climatically suitable for producing exceptional tea. At The Tea Centre, we stock the region’s divine Organic Bengal Dooars FTGFOP1.
Source: SFTP partnered with Tea Promotors of India - Source: SFTP partnered with Tea Promotors of India
Kelani Valley Plantations
Named the first ethical tea brand in the world, premier tea plantation company Kelani Valley Plantations produces many of our Sri Lankan tea. Kelani Valley Plantations is passionate about social and environmental sustainability in tea production. Their program ‘A Home for Every Plantation Worker’ has increased the quality of life for workers by building them homes and providing child development centres and medical facilities. Placing emphasis on empowering the youth, they also provide vocational training and guidance for young people within the families of their workers. Their community-based and socially-responsible approach has seen Kelani Valley Plantations produce tea renowned for its flavour and character. Our ethically-sourced Sri Lankan teas include Organic English Breakfast, Organic Tea Centre Orange Pekoe, Prince of Wales, Scottish Breakfast and Yorkshire Blend.
A tea worker for the Yatiyantota group of Kelani Valley Plantations plucks tea leaves.
Source: Kelani Valley Plantations PLC
Sourced from the foothills of the Himalayas to be part of our Small Farmers range, our organic Bengal Dooars FTGFOP1 features a light roasted flavour and is exceptional in quality. Graded as a Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1 (FTGFOP1), this tea is full of the golden tips of the tea plant.
Our Tea Centre Orange Pekoe is ethically sourced from Sri Lanka and a favourite with our customers. Blended especially for The Tea Centre, this organic large-leaf tea has medium body and a smooth flavour. Enjoy this brisk and fragrant brew any time of the day.
From Crop to Cup
Tea workers involved in the Small Farmers initiatives in India and Sri Lanka under the Kelani Valley Plantations pick and produce their tea by hand. This orthodox method of producing tea is labour-intensive but ensures tea leaves are of the finest quality.
Orthodox tea production involves:
The leaves are first plucked from the Camellia sinensis bush in the tea fields. Tea workers harvest the leaves by hand before sorting them.
The next step is withering, where the leaves are laid out to ensure excess moisture is removed.
The leaves are then hand rolled and twisted; a process that initiates the oxidisation of the tea by exposing the enzymes in the leaf to oxygen in the air.
Leaves are then laid out for the oxidation process, where the now-exposed enzymes change the chemical composition of the leaves. This step of the process greatly impacts the flavour of the tea produced.
Leaves are then heated to ensure low residual moisture, which ceases oxidation and enables the tea leaves to store well.
A tea worker in Putharjhora, Dooars sorts tea leaves. - Source: SFTP partnered with Tea Promotors of India.