Why Justice Infused Tea? How can consumers and producers mutually benefit from this flavourful antioxidant-rich tea?
Grayson Bain, founder of the successful Rocky Mountain Bicycles Company travelled to Kenya in 2012 to look at building a water filtration system. Instead of pursuing the water filtration project, he wound up developing a friendship with local tea farmer, Davison.
Over tea, Bain learned that farmers are paid about two dollars a day for their freshly picked tea leaves. With limited farm processing facilities, farmers had to sell their harvest to local factories.
The factories processed the leaves to low-value added tea, graded, packed and shipped them as bulk export to overseas plants for blending with teas from other countries.
This limits farmers’ capability to procure higher prices for their crops. The daily wage equates to roughly one per cent of the finished product’s retail value while the rest goes to middlemen, said Bain.
Aspiration Turn Social Enterprise
His aspiration to help small scale tea farmers improve their economic livelihood became the vision of JusTea, a humble Vancouver-based social enterprise, whose sales reached over $75,000 in its first six months of operation.
“Our joy is to take farmers like Davison and give them much more of an economic viability for their tea by creating tea kitchens (not factories) right at their farm gate to process export quality tea for the North American market,” explained Bain.
Kenya is the world’s largest black tea exporter. The first batch of tea seedlings were sown on Kenyan soil in 1903 by G.W.L. Canine. Today, tea is a major cash crop and leading foreign exchange earner for this East African economy. The tea industry generates income for over half a million small scale farmers who cultivate over 60% of Kenyan tea.
Pioneer in Direct-Trade Partnership
JusTea’s mission to promote social justice through sustainable enterprise. “Our vision is to provide Kenya tea farmers with sustainable incomes, and give tea drinkers a direct relationship with the farmers,” continued Bain who pioneered Canada’s first mountain bicycle company.
JusTea values strong relationships and promotes social justice through sustainable enterprise.
“We are the world’s first non-profit organization to create a direct-trade partnership between Kenyan tea farmers and drinkers, and to process black Kenyan tea straight off the farm.
JusTea creates employment for the local community,” he added. Among the unemployed, young Kenyans (below 35 years old) make up a staggering 80 per cent or more.
JusTea’s direct trade philosophy helps small scale tea farmers fetch higher prices for their tea. Production is led by local Kenyan partners with volunteers managing the administration and marketing of the tea products locally.
When tea drinkers enjoy JusTea, they know the tea’s origin – the farm’s name, tea bush plot and farmer who grew, harvested and processed the tea.
What is Black Tea?
Global demand for tea has outperformed coffee, according to a Euromonitor International 2015 Hot Drinks report. A key reason: tea has multiple health benefits.
Tea leaves come from the Camellia Sinensis bush. The difference between black tea, green or white tea is the processing (oxidation) method used.
Oxidation exposes freshly-picked leaves to moist, oxygen-rich air turning the leaves from green to dark tan and black colours.
Black tea is a fully oxidized tea, renowned for its intense antioxidants, polyphenols. Scientific experts believe polyphenols and catechins in black tea can help protect human cells from DNA damage and prevent ovarian cancer. Black tea boosts alertness, and regular consumption may lower the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and kidney stones.
JusTea products are whole leaf authentic Kenyan artisan tea, traditionally hand-crafted, high quality, processed with minimal factory machinery. Their flavourful, robust products have won praise from tea sommeliers, and drinkers.
They hope to partner with more tea farming families,and offer tea drinkers a variety of high quality Kenyan tea ranging from Green, Black, Oolong and Purple Tea too.
Loose or packaged, JusTea’s tea products are infused with justice, mercy, appreciation, and connection with fellow global citizens, and the environment.