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An outstanding value black tea for everyday drinking. It is grown without pesticides and agrochemicals in the southern Indian state of Kerala and processed by Sahyadri Tea Consortium, a cooperative of 164 family farms who practise polyculture and organic farming methods. Although it doesn’t have the distinguishing features of Assam, Darjeeling or Nilgiri tea, it’s bold, sweet flavour and light maltiness make this a very pleasant and comforting black tea that works well with and without milk.
164 Small Farmers Sahyadri Co-Op, Peermade, Kerala, India
SIZE OF FARMS
1.5-3 acres (average)
PLANTS AND PROCESSING
Camellia Sinensis Assamica. Batch ORG-79, FTGFOP1 (180kg). Harvested Summer 2018.
95°C, 3g per 150mls, with or without milk. 2 infusions.
This was the first of the Indian small tea projects that we visited in March 2013 and is demonstrative of both the benefits and the potential setbacks of the small farm approach that make it all the more important for tea companies to support these kinds of projects. The Sahyadri Co-Operative was started in 2001 near the hill station of Peermade, a 4 hour drive east of Kochin and south of the more famous tea producing area of Munnar. The project started when the local Catholic diocese helped set up a factory to let the small farmers in the area process their own leaf, helping them bypass selling it to bought leaf factories and guaranteeing them a 30-70% premium on top of the regular market rate.
With the help of the local NGO Peermade Development Society (PDS) Sahyadri managed to convince more and more farmers in the area (including some remote tribal settlements) to join the co-op, with project co-ordinators such as Paul Mathew (pictured below with his wife) teaching them organic farming methods and how to make better quality tea in the process. Unfortunately a combination of droughts and falling market prices in the area have meant many farmers have had to leave the tea co-op in recent years although this is now slowly improving. It is therefore vital for us to support Sahyadri and promote the small tea model that we believe is better for both the land and farmers.
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