“We worked directly with the Small Tea Coop and five tea growers to bring this range of teas to life”, says Laurie Klassen, Level Ground founder and lead on the tea project. “By visiting India and meeting directly with the people who grow these teas, we are able to offer them premiums above even Fair Trade prices and help create the best product possible.”
By going direct, Level Ground is able to support a market for hand processed teas grown without chemicals. By selling finished tea directly to market rather than selling fresh leaves to large tea factories, these small tea growers earn significantly more money.
“Not only that, but when growers sell their fresh leaves to large factories, the leaves just get mixed with conventional, chemical-spray teas and the marketplace never gets a chance to access organically grown tea”, addsKlassen. “The factories use the organic leaves as a method to dilute the overall chemical load in their export teas. And we just think that’s not right”.
Level Ground Trading currently purchases tea from four small tea gardens in Assam, India. Each garden is between 3 and 12 bighas (1 bigha = approximately 1/4 acre). All the gardens operate using organic practices and no chemical sprays or fertilizers. The tea growers own and operate the tea gardens and rely on the sale of tea as their primary source of income.
All of the processing of the tea is done by hand in very small drying facilities that each tea garden has setup themselves. Each tea garden employs between 5 and 20 labourers.The Fair Trade premiums on the teas are being dispersed to the labourers in each tea garden, and are being used from purchasing piglets and goats for the labourer’s families, to purchaging large water filters for homes.
My aunt got me this tea. She was volunteering in the store that was selling it. I wasn't sure what the "smoke" flavor would do to the assam taste. But, it was not super noticeable. I was at work when I tried it and it was okay, but I know that I would have liked it better had I had some milk to sweeten it a bit.
It's always fun to try new teas and learn knew things about tea and where they came from. That was definitely true with this tea. I love that the tea purchases help others!!!