Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more social media sites have done unparallelled work for the cause of innumerable tea businesses all over the world. Work which the web-shops alone could not do as they were not “certified” to prove who is good and who is bad.
Remember, in 1975 or so organic certification recognised teas and made them “safe” to the consumers. Makaibari got the ball rolling and almost every other producer in Darjeeling followed suit overnight. And almost immediately there were almost no non-organic tea producers.
Now we are in need of a “second generation” certification as to who is a genuine small grower or which tea is “hand-crafted” or artisan. With billion-dollar business and four billion kilos of annual production worldwide, you need an agency big enough to handle this multitude and gross acreage under production.
Doke, coming out of Bihar, is the case in question. Bihar is a “non-traditional tea growing area” as classified by Indian Tea Board, but who knows what that means? Until recently these things were unknown, but today we know plenty and everybody is proliferating overnight.
Elyse started Tealet–a thing of tomorrow done today–and started giving these small growers worldwide exposure to the consumers directly. But the question remains: who is a small grower or who is a artisan producer?
Let someone take the yoke and start the game… The invitation is open to everyone.
It seems to me that “small” growers can be defined by their output. I know Steve Smith bags “small batch” teas which HE defined as a maximum of 30 pounds in the blending machine at a time. This prevented the dried leaves from getting crushed and could remain in more of a whole leaf shape. I imagine growers can agree to define the parameters for how many pounds/kilos of tea equal “small” production farms. Also, artisan products are traditionally made by hand, without the use of machinery. So plucking and drying wouldn’t be mechanized by large machines. What am I missing here. Obviously I’ve defined a very simplistic concept but the point is pretty clear. This is doable. Even if it has to be agreed country by country or even region by region so that local growers can make important decisions about their crops that is feasible for them.
My being in China today gave me further insight into this when every second tea retailer or tea trader is trying to source his/her teas from these small growers and so also is the case when Nepal, Taiwan & Japan comes to the fore.
Very interesting. I love this shift away from large agro-farming to local, high quality artisenal production.
Terminology is an easy thing for marketers and big brands to twist. Not to mention names, but I’m thinking of one in particular who does a bottled iced tea, which they promote as very artisan and whole leaf and all that…if we actually saw the production, we might not feel the same way.
Services given by small growers are far superior to those of large players who depend upon large scale advertising of their lower grade teas.
Rajiv, I can empathize with small growers. We were a small retailer (and hope to open another store in 2016) and had to deal with people coming in and mentioning chain coffee/tea stores all the time. When you’re small you have to work many times as hard to get that message you talk about out to the public.