Teazaar is a complicated project, but the proposed solution looks rather simple:
Natural Environment, Healthy Tea
Once we put the environment first, the tea world will change: tea lovers can enjoy completely natural tea and tea areas change into natural, bio diverse ecosystems.
At the moment, the tea world is not sustainable. Most of the teas people drink are not from natural tea areas. There is a number of reasons for this, but in this article I want to focus on transparency:
Lack of transparency
The reason for Teazaar being such a complicated project, is that the world of tea is extremely complicated. Although there are 6 main types (green tea, yellow tea, white tea, black tea, oolong tea and puerh/dark tea), there are thousands of sub varieties like the Darjeeling Black Tea, Westlake Long Jing Green Tea or Fuding Silver Needle White Tea. All these teas are from a specific area, with it’s unique terroir, but are produced in other areas as well. Even if they are from the right area, they can be from different tea cultivars, they can grow high in the mountains or a flat area. The same tea can be grown with chemicals or in biodiverse areas, they can be pure tea or mixed with teas from other areas. A tea leave can be picked in the spring, summer, autumn, even during the winter in some areas. These same teas can be divided in grades: only a bud, a bud and a leave, one bud and two leaves, etc. The problem is, that these grades are not related to the quality, the quality can only be decided when all the different factors are transparent. Yes, you guessed right, they are not transparent at all. It requires intimate knowledge of a certain tea area and it’s tea to judge the quality.
Now the good news: Sustainable tea growers often know exactly what tea they are drinking. They have taken care of their tea garden for decades and process all tea by hand (or with the help of some machines). They don’t use standards, but they can tell where the tea they are drinking is from, often specific plots (450 meter above sea level, surrounded by bamboo forest, picked at the start of April).
Tea lovers are often eager to learn these skills too. And they can, they just need to build up a relation with the tea grower.
The problem is, most of the tea lovers haven’t been able to find these unique tea farms. At the same time, these unique tea farms haven’t been able to find tea lovers buying their teas. As a result, many small-scale tea growers had no other options than to bring their teas ‘to the market’, entering the utterly complicated situation of different varieties and different grades. Not knowing the tea garden and having hundreds of the same tea in front of them, makes it almost impossible to make the best choice. They look the same, they taste the same, an opportunity for big buyers to choose the lowest price and sell for the price of a high quality one. Blends, melanges, auctions, big factories, all these development made it even more difficult for a tea shop owner to select a good tea. The origin of tea became untraceable. Not transparent and not sustainable.
Not all tea growers gave up
The good news: Not all tea growers gave up. Hard to find, but we will find them for you. I strongly suggest to watch the short documentary of tea master Ye. I admire this man for his persistence. Because of him, other still have someone to follow, ask questions and learn about the true meaning of tea. It was very important for him to see me first and show his tea mountain before he would even consider joining the Teazaar community. He didn’t consider a way to earn money, he considered quality and meaning. He didn’t say much, only what was necessary. Watch the short documentary here:
If you’re a company looking to maximize your profits, or a tea drinkers looking for cheap tea, this all doesn’t matter. But when you look at the tea market from a distance, you will notice that tea growing is harming the environment, the health of the tea pickers and that tea drinkers have a high change of drinking polluted or fake tea. Changing this requires knowledge. Not one single person can require all this knowledge, not one single company can change the world of tea. However, when we build a community and share this knowledge, we can.
This is why we connect sustainable tea growers with professional tea shop owners. They share their passion for tea and are eager to learn everything about it. A passionate tea grower from Darjeeling tries to make the best and most natural tea from his or her area, keeps observing and experimenting with slightly different tea garden designs, processing techniques and share this information. A passionate tea shop owner Sydney talks everyday with tea drinkers, tries different steeping techniques and discusses food pairing with a tea sommelier from a nearby restaurant. All this information is shared with the tea growers providing the selection of natural, sustainable tea. All these pieces of information together become specialist knowledge. More tea drinkers will trust the tea shop owner and enjoy a variety of wonderful teas, discussing the origin, tea ware, tea culture and history of the tea area. Once in a while the tea shop owner organizes a tea trip for his customers, visiting the growers supplying their favorite teas.
A simple philosophy
You’ve probably noticed, that I don’t see Teazaar as an important factor in this change. This is on purpose: we are not important, we are here to help. When we don’t need to help anymore, when the tea world is sustainable, then we probably become tea growers, somewhere high in the mountains.