Just in time for colder weather, a premium tea company is launching a cool program that any tea lover should be interested in. From now through the end of October, Rare Tea Company is offering customers the opportunity to pre-buy an autumn harvest for a “Special Himalayan Harvest” black tea—all the while supporting a family-run organic tea garden in Nepal.
Rare Tea Company, which operates through direct trade and buys from farmers at prices the farmers set—as opposed to buying from brokers, commodity markets, or middle-men—counts Claridge’s in London, Noma in Copenhagen, and Benu in San Francisco among its customers. However, Rare Tea Company has lost 70 percent of its business due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting devastation that has rippled across the hospitality industry, founder and CEO Henrietta Lovell told Food & Wine. Much of the demand for high-end tea has fallen away, she said.
“We want to buy as much as we can from these farms because they really need it, but the problem is not supply, it’s demand,” she said over FaceTime.
A handful of large companies supply the majority of tea sold in Europe and North America, and most of the communities supplying that tea live in poverty. Programs like this give consumers a chance to shop ethically, with their money going more directly to the farmer.
For the past decade, the company has been working with Jun Chiyabari, described by Rare Tea Company as “one of the best tea gardens in the world.” With business down, Rare Tea Company didn’t have the funds or demand to purchase an autumn harvest that Jun Chiyabari needed to sell. That’s where the Special Himalayan Harvest tea comes in. After talking with the team at the tea garden, Lovell came up with the idea to offer customers a chance to pre-buy it through Rare Tea Company.
Here’s how it works: Go to Rare Tea Company’s website and select how much tea you’d like to pre-order. The Special Himalayan Harvest is available in three quantities: 300 grams (£110, or $143.49 USD), 500 grams (£185, or $241.32), and one kilogram (£365, or $476.12). Lovell compares the pre-purchasing process to buying wine en primeur—aka buying wine before it’s been bottled, while it’s still in the barrel. She says that every time a purchase is made, Rare Tea Company will tell Jun Chiyabari, who will produce that amount. Only producing what is pre-ordered will ensure the tea garden isn’t left with excess product to sell.
“It’s what we can do together as a community, as a tea-loving community, to support a farm and get them through,” she said.
The tea itself hasn’t been picked and crafted yet—the top image above is described