Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about sustainability, Teazaar, and its humble beginnings.
Teazaar’s mission isn’t about earning money. It never has been.
It is about making the tea industry sustainable and environmentally friendly. The focus is to make the dream of natural tea for everyone a reality.
Passion for natural tea
This passion led me to countless tea plantations and farms across the world. I met with extraordinary individuals that were putting in selfless effort to grow natural tea. I also ended up at numerous tea fairs like the 2017 World Tea Expo, the 2018 Spring, and Autumn Xiamen Tea Fair and the 2018 Autumn Shenzhen Tea Fair.
And everywhere I went, I announced far and wide my vision for sustainable tea. I came across many that wanted to understand what I meant by sustainability and to my surprise, I discovered that opinions and definitions differ when it comes to word “sustainability”.
But I also found something dark – currently, almost all the companies are in it for the money when it comes to tea. And since I was looking for something more, I continued my search on the internet for a tea community that fosters leadership and sustainability in conversations about “Teatopia”.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything.
This is where I decided to launch Teazaar, a platform that enables sustainable long-term strategies and profits to slow the progression of land degradation and the use of chemicals in tea farming.
And that’s not it: Using Teazaar, I am opening a section on the web specifically for the tea lovers and tea farmers, to bring together those that love natural tea and want to try to preserve it. Here tea lovers can come together, communicate and buy from tea farmers directly.
And here’s where it gets better. Tea lovers will enjoy 100% transparency, will promote environmental conversations and thereby help the tea industry to progress.
Unfortunately, you have accidentally become part of the problem:
When you buy from large multinational companies or distributors, you are becoming part of the problem.
Big corporations operating within the industry cannot resist using chemicals and fertilizers as they are focusing on quantity and uniformity in their tea produce. Since they are working on a large scale and with the aim of profit maximization, they focus on everything that is low price – leading to the use of modern farming methods that are harmful to nature, increasing the workload of poor farmers while paying them less.
As a result: reducing the water quality near their farms due to the drainage of harmful chemicals they utilize and are creating artificial competition using marketing technique rather than focusing on diversity, taste, and quality.
Now, I am not making big promises since I know I don’t have the definitive solution on my hands. But I know that by gathering people who share the same love of tea as I do, we can create the momentum to change the current trajectory of the tea industry.
How I define sustainability:
When I use the word “sustainability”, I am not talking about going organic or fair trade but about the greater good. What I am aiming for is the true cooperation with nature, the producers, the distributors and tea lovers spread across the world.
I want people to question how tea is being cultivated today. Why? Because we all need to think seriously whether the tea we are drinking today will as diverse and of high quality as it is today after 100, 200 or 500 years? Would we be able to taste different artisan leaf teas from around the world or end up with one or two single bland taste just to wake up ourselves? Tasting so poorly, that we add sugar or chemical additives.
I am convinced that the answer lies with:
- Biodiverse tea gardens
- Healthy soil;
- Zero chemicals;
- Many tea varieties, based on terrain;
- Fairtrade, good, meaningful work for everyone in the industry;
- Natural water, healthy mountains;
- Competition based on quality and uniqueness;
- Actual transparency.
It is imperative we consider the way we consume goods and services.
Today, eco-labeling and different sustainable certifications are educating consumers about the products they are using. It is doing more for the consumer conscience than for the actual producers who usually find a way to turn everything into a profit-making mechanism.
But missing out in all of this is the little guy–the small-scale tea farmers who lack the finances or the resources to afford the high price of these labels and certifications. It is these small-scale tea farmers that deserve our seal of approval.
They adhere to centuries-old traditions that follow the natural way of growing tea, which is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. So, it’s difficult to understand why do not have transparency in our current scenario? Why isn’t it ingrained in our consumption choices?
Trust and transparency
As consumers, we should be able to trust our sources, our farmers, our producers and yet the race for profits by corporations and conglomerates have somehow taken us to the path of denaturation. Today everything is being manufactured, not grown. It limits only transparency in sustainability to having a paid certification that we have accepted as a true measure of something being good or bad.
Inadvertently this is creating pressure on the little guys – the tea farmers working on growing natural tea.
To stay operational, these farmers are facing mounting pressure both financially and psychologically to add chemicals, focus on yield vs quality and diversity and reduce the wages and prices. This isn’t a fair fight and hardly seems to be the battle being fought by sustainable and eco-conscious consumers. It’s not surprising that at the end of the day, it will be the environment and small farms that will suffer. Remember here that diversity is strongly related to quality.
This is one of the core reasons why a platform was/is needed to create a different, more modern and fitting form of transparency.
My talks and travels have revealed to me how sustainable and sustainability are being used. Right now, companies that are actively engaged in using harmful chemicals and toxins are calling themselves sustainable. Poor quality tea is also labelled as eco-friendly and sustainable.
At Teazaar the definition of sustainable is natural and I hope that members will understand the difference and focus on what really matters when we talk about sustainability. Only through this can we create a progressive and constructive tea industry and move towards a different future.
Sustainable tea: Better tea, better life.
P.S. At the moment, we are working to overhaul our website and will be launching Teazaar 2.0! Our first platform was facing criticism due to its poor design and many of our tea farmer friends and companies were not willing to contribute to spreading the dream yet. We agree, this dream and all the wonderful natural teas do need a perfect platform. This requires money, which is at the moment not easy to earn with natural tea. However, we won’t give up! Right now, we are organizing natural tea for everyone through www.teazaar.com in order to let tea drinkers know natural tea and ask for natural tea at their local tea shop. Once they ask, the resellers see the opportunity and will join the Teazaar network.
This upgraded version of the platform is expected in the summer of 2019. We hope that by then tea drinkers all over the world start to know the difference between a chemical tea and a natural tea.