9 Things To Know About Organic Tea Grown In India

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

It’s Organic September and my inbox has been full of news of brands and products supporting organic. Great news! The benefits of organic farming and production stretch from soil, planet and wildlife, to farmers, products and consumers. Everyone’s a winner. Which is probably why sales of organic products hit £22billion in 2017 up 6% from 2016.

One email stood out and that was Clipper Teasorganic tea production in Southern India with a small peek behind the scenes. If you’ve ever wondered how tea is cultivated organic, here are nine things I discovered about how Clipper Teas does it in the Nilgiri Mountains:

  1. In this region, 40% of the total population works in the tea industry (source: wessanen uk)
  2. 60% of workers have emigrated from Northern India, for the better pay and working conditions
  3. Tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) are fertilised with nitrogen from cow manure
  4. First, cow dung arrives at the plantation and dried. Then it’s mixed with thousands of worms to help aerate it. This means bringing oxygen into the manure.  The compost is then rotated until it’s ready to use
  5. The plantations are also experimenting with an algae farm as another way of cultivating organic – read the science behind how and why algae is used in organic farming here. It’s basically a cost-effective and eco way to boost plant growth
  6. Plantations are also trialling compost from local food waste
  7. Plant, insect and bird life are thought be 50% more abundant on organic farms compared to non. Locals say there are now more bison in the area
  8. Fewer pesticides and genetically modified ingredients not only benefit the soil and environment but the workers too, who no longer have to put their health at risk when spaying plants with chemicals
  9. Not just certified by the Soil Association, the majority of these plantations are also Fairtrade (Clipper Teas was the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company in 1994and more are in the pipeline,helping to provide workers and communities with additional funding for healthcare, education, better pay and employment benefits, such as sick leave.

So next time you kick back with a cup of tea, choose one that’s organic for the benefits of the environment, wildlife, and most importantly, the tea workers and villages who are better off because of it.

Now, here’s a snapshot of the people behind your tea!

clipper teas organic farming india

clipper teas organic farming india tea workers

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations workers

clipper-teas-organic-tea-farming-india-picking-tea-leaves-plantations

Picture credits: Clipper Teas

 

In the kitchen: Yerba Mate tea

If you’re a green tea devotee then you might also enjoy its South American counterpart, Yerba mate. Sent to try by new superfood retailer Nutriseed.co.uk I realised it’s more than just your average brew. It’s loaded with energy, vitamins and minerals and used for medicinal purposes too. I’m aware there are traditional ways of preparing and drinking this tea but here’s how I did it in my kitchen… 

nutriseed yerba mate tea 1 nutriseed yerba mate tea review nutriseed yerba mate tea review nutriseed yerba mate tea review

Yerba mate (pronounced yer-bah mah-tay) literally means ‘cup-herb’ in Spanish or Portuguese. It tastes similar to a mild green tea but without the smoky oakiness that some green tea varieties offer. 

The team behind Nutriseed.co.uk are also behind one of my favourite health drink brands, Super Eleven Shake, the power drink made with 11 superfoods.

There are more unusual finds on Nutriseed too such as the Ayurvedic ashwagandha (a stress-relieving and restorative herb), 28-day detox tea  (a blend of 6 cleansing herbal teas), superfood capsules (spirulina, maca root and acai berry) and a variety of cacao (great for keen cooks).

If you’re a Yerba mate fan too, would love to know! 

Stocking filler #2 Tea

tick-tock-lemon-ginger-honey-tea

Tea, glorious tea…

It’s definitely having a bit of a moment in the limelight and it’s my recommended choice for a perfect Christmas gift this year.

Boutique, loose leaf brews with the fancy combinations are catching my eyes everywhere and supermarket tea isles have suddenly expanded packing in new brands, more varieties and prettier boxes than ever before. Even traditional brands such as Twinnings seem to have upped their game.

As a gift, secret santa or just to try for yourself, I’ve picked a few new discoveries. Alternatively why not go for an experience and take a friend/lover/mum/dad/cousin/neighbour/mutual-Christmas-hater (see Christmas rant for more on that) to a tea house in town (sorry for the London-centric ideas):

Amanzi Tea has just opened in central London (just off Marylebone High Street) offering an impressively large variety of teas for all tastes. 40 blends to be precise. It’s like the Harrods for tea I guess. I’m due a visit soon so will be back with more info on that.

Also check out Camellia’s Tea House on Kingly Court in Soho, which I recently discovered (thank you Mark Smith), which serves traditional afternoon teas in a quaint setting.

If you’re enjoying a brew at home, time to put the kettle on…

tick-tock-lemon-ginger-honey-tea1. Tick Tock Rooibos Honey, Lemon and Ginger – a new brew for winter with a warming combination. If you like a kick of ginger this doesn’t fall short and the honey and rooibos give it a mellow edge. It’s gone down a storm in the BeautyMART office and I just about caught the last tea bag today – the rapidly empty box said it all. £1.99 at ticktocktea.com.

Eco credentials? Tick Tock supports the British Bee Keeper’s Association for bee health research; no GM crops, no additives and no chlorine-bleached tea bags; they also trade fairly and work with South African Rooibos Council to protect region’s agriculture.

2. Neal’s Yard Remedies New Organic Teas – a new collection of organic teas coming in eight varieties. The Vitality is my favourite with Siberian Ginseng, thyme and liquorice for a unique and uplifting brew.

Neal's Yard Remedies Vitality Tea great stocking filler on Brighter Shade of  Green

Just noticed NYR also has a glass mug with built-in diffuser which makes a great gift for loose tea lovers, like me. £2.99, nealsyardremedies.com

Eco credentials? 100% organic and Soil Association certified.

3. Camellia’s Handmade Herbal Infusion (not a press sample)

I discovered Camellia’s Beautiful Skin Tea on a visit to Nirvana Spa in Reading with Germaine de Cappucini and bought a box as I was instantly impressed by the interesting combination (dandelion and chickweed) and the way it was wrapped up in natural cloth and hand tied. Too cute.

Eco credentials: Can’t find any info on the website about where the tea is sourced etc but there is some mention of things being handmade in small batches.

4. Choi Time Teas

choi time tea flask with jasmine flower
Jasmine flower unfurling in the flask…

Last but certainly not least it’s Choi Time – a Chinese heritage tea brand, whose founder Melissa Choi is seriously passionate about the benefits of green tea and rose tea in particular. I discovered Choi Time several years ago and was luckily reintroduced to it recently.  The jasmine flower teas which open up as they brew make a visually impressive brew and all the teas are packaged in gorgeous boxes so they make excellent gifts as they are.

Another thing to check out is the Tea Flask, which Choi Time kindly sent me recently and I absolutely love, it’s a staple in my day. This 750ml flask has a compartment for lose tea leaves at the top and a built-in diffuser so you just top it up with hot water throughout the day and tip it upside down to brew. It’s the most convenient way of drinking lots of green tea, great for keeping skin glowing.

Eco credentials: Sourced personally by Melissa and directly from growers in China, who are connected to her family there. No conglomerates, no unfair trading.

So there we have it – tea is my recommended choice for alternative Christmas giving this year. It has an every day use, it’s good for you, delicious and is not a gift that will clog up your loved one’s life with unnecessary stuff!

A Pukka way forward

Pukka Herbs Revitalise Tea

Pukka Herbs Revitalise Tea

I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to caffeine – anything after 4pm and I’m wide-eyed until the early hours so come evening, I switch to herbs. Pukka Teas Revitalise is one I really rate – it does exactly as it says on the box: ‘it warms and invigorates with organic cinnamon, cardamom and ginger’. 100% of the ingredients are organically grown (with a Soil Association stamp of approval) and ethically sourced from around the world.

So while I’ll always opt for full-caffeine tea or coffee any time of morning, this is my current favourite for a natural evening energy boost – and very comforting when it’s cold.  It gets my big tea-tick…