harvestersJungle Teas is a North Carolina-based startup hoping to improve the standard of living of impoverished African communities by finding markets for their nutritious wild-harvested herbal teas. I am one of its co-founders. Although scientifically classified as herbal teas, the flavor profiles of these jungle teas are similar to popular black and green teas. The U.S. National Institutes of Health classifies our black tea as Fadogia ancylantha and our green tea as Lippia javanica; their traditional African names are Marange and Zumbani, respectively.

Little-known around the world, lab research data on these teas is published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine for the curative and preventive properties they exhibit against diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, inflammation, respiratory illnesses, and malaria. The CDC projects an estimated 78 million Americans ages 18 years or older to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2040 and a whopping 1 in 3 U.S. adults to have diabetes by 2050. The World Health Organization recently reported that just under half a billion people have contracted diabetes and projects that it will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.

With these statistics and others in the public domain, it’s hard for me to understand why people wouldn’t drink more tea; especially teas like Marange and Zumbani, which have extensively verified lab research behind them! I find that, as usual, it probably comes down to tea education. Too many people do not understand the immediate and long-term benefits of including tea in their daily regimen, especially here in the United States. While a scientific correlation cannot be made between countries with more tea consumption and their ‘per capita’ rates of chronic disease, just skimming the numbers and comparing them to U.S. statistics does start to reveal a loose pattern which favors more tea consumption.

For example, Morocco ranks as one of the biggest tea consumers per capita and yet it is ranked 79th in the world for its chronic diabetes rate. While other factors such as healthcare and diet might come into play in this discussion, I think the numbers show a loose correlation between frequent tea consumption and occurrences of these preventable illnesses.

At Jungle Teas, we are focused on not only educating people about our jungle-harvested African teas but all teas in general; the culture and benefits that make them the world’s most popular natural beverage. Anyone can benefit from our teas, whether it’s people looking to manage an ailment, prevent disease and infection or simply enjoy a cup of afternoon tea. We believe tea can change the declining global health trends but above all, it can be a vehicle to uplift economically marginalized communities around the world.