Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
The first tea from a new sustainable tea region in India's young, rising Himalayas.
The first tea from a new sustainable tea region in India's young, rising Himalayas.
The first tea from a new sustainable tea region in India's young, rising Himalayas.
372 backers pledged $30,226 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Young Mountain Tea: A New White Tea from India's Himalayas project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Young Mountain Tea: A New White Tea from India's Himalayas

$30,226

372

 

Taking Tea To Uncharted Soils

As avid tea drinkers, we are honored to play a small part in this miraculous plant's history. By joining us you will:

  • Drink the first cups of a white tea that lays the foundation for a sustainable Indian tea region.
  • Create dignified rural livelihoods in the Kumaon region of the Indian Himalayas. 
  • Strengthen mountain ecosystems by drinking a tea intercropped with other mountainous plants to rejuvenate local soils

Introducing the Kumaon White Peony

We chose to create a new white peony, also known as a Bai Mudan, for two reasons. First, because it's an incredible tea. One of the world's most popular white teas, white peony is refreshing, light, and carries a sweetness reminiscent of honeydew melon. It's chock-full of antioxidants (more than most green teas), has virtually no caffeine, and is a forgiving tea that is hard to make wrong. It's like good mood in a cup!

Second, we wanted a tea that would stand out. Most Indian teas are black, with a few green teas grown by some progressive growers. Hardly any white Indian teas exist, and certainly none that are grown in soils similar to the Kumaon region. We knew that if we started small and focused on quality, we'd have a tea unlike any other.

In June 2013, we harvested leaves from tea plants growing wild in Kumaon and processed it as a white peony. We were stunned by what we had, so we moved forward and planted our first acre. And now here we are, a few months away from sharing this gift of the mountains with you!

Rewards

We designed a few type of rewards:

  • Tea: The first batch of Kumaon White Peony, direct from the mountains to your cup. Organic, single origin, hand made, and grown using permaculture practices. This is it!
  • Limited Edition Travel Tumblers: Take your tea on the go with these popular double walled BPA-free plastic travelers. We laser etched our logo into the wall, and at the higher reward levels, we can work with you to customize the design. The tumbler's design is effective, durable, and beautiful. It can easily fit into a backpack or purse without heating its surrounding environment. 
  • Gift Sets: Ideal for weddings, birthdays, or holidays, these gift sets have three ultra rare organic Indian teas.  One tin of our Kumaon White Peony and two tins Nilgiri teas from the prized collection of Indi Khanna, our teacher -- a delicious green and his signature whole leaf black.


 
Three ounces of organic, handmade, single origin Kumaon White Peony, enough to make 30-45 cups of tea. We made these limited edition travel tumblers uniquely for this project. The tumbler's design is effective, durable, and beautiful. Made with BPA-free plastic, it can easily fit into a backpack or purse without heating its surrounding environment. 

More rewards are listed in the reward section to the right.



Growing A New Tea Region

 The Kumaon Region sits in the foothills of the Himalayas, right on the border between India and Nepal. The British first planted tea in the region in the 1820s, but abandoned the project because it was too difficult to get the tea from the mountains to the ports. 190 years later, the tea still grows wild across Kumaon and the government has built the roads to connect the region to the rest of the country. We saw this as an opportunity to make a tea we loved and to support the people and mountains that grow it.

Creating Dignified Rural Livelihoods

Without local job opportunities, the Kumaoni communities are quickly being hollowed out by urban migration. We'll be growing tea on local farmers' land so they don't have to migrate for work. Rashmi Bharti, co-founder of our non-profit partner Avani, explains how intercropping tea with dye-yielding plants that Avani uses will give farmers stable incomes.

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

In addition to creating new jobs, we'll also be improving the wages within the tea industry. Right now, farmers are paid, on average, less than a dime per pound of tea they harvest. That same tea is sold for over $80 per pound in the US. That's an 80,000% markup and a huge opportunity for improvement. If we simply connect the farmers directly to the drinkers, both sides of the tea cup benefit; better wages for the growers and fresher teas for the drinkers.

Better Soils Lead to Better Teas

We're using organic permaculture techniques to intercrop tea alongside other crops that Avani uses for their natural dyes. And we're growing these plants on abandoned farmland that has lain fallow to reclaim wasteland. This approach restores biodiversity to the area, strengthens root structures in the soil, and prevents landslides. This schematic illustrates the intercropping approach we're implementing:

We're learning from experts in the field who are pioneering practices. One such teacher is Indi Khanna, an innovative tea producer with a prized collection of bouTEAque teas in the south Indian Nilgiri mountains. Here he talks about how to certify an estate as organic.

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Project Timeline & Budget

Phase 1: Trip to India

  • April: Visit partner estates in Darjeeling and Assam in Eastern India to further develop relationships with leading producers
  • May & June: Travel to the Kumaon region to harvest and process our first batches of tea, plan for project expansion, and coordinate logistics of shipping tea to the US

Phase 2: Distribution in the US

  • July & August: Return to US, receive shipment of teas and clear customs
  • September: Purchase packaging materials and repackage teas for the distribution
  • October: Ship teas to all you wonderful folks! 

Budget

  • Harvesting and Processing Teas: $7,500
  • Importing Teas: $2,500
  • Packaging Materials: $3,500
  • Travel & Accommodations: $5,500
  • Kickstarter Fees: $2,500
  • Unexpected: $2,500

Total: $24,000

Stretch Goal

If we are able to exceed our goal, we'll be able to start building Kumaon as the pride of Indian teas regions.  To do that, we're trying to reach $32,000, which will allows us to:

  • Expand to three communities in this year ($3,000)
  • Begin to map the Kumaon tea region based on elevation, rain fall, aspects, soil nutrients, and other key variable ($3,000)
  • Setup our first village-level decentralized processing unit ($2,000)
 We hope you'll help us get there, so that we can increase the impact of our work AND get more delicious teas into your tea cups.

Long Term Plans

This is our first tea from the Kumaon region, and there are many more to come. This project is a pilot of our model, and we will scale it up in the coming years. For expansion, we'll begin by branching into other tea types, starting with green teas.

We'll also work with Kumaoni communities to setup cultivation programs that create local jobs. By building a Kumaon tea region, we'll bring jobs and skills to remote communities while ensuring the growth is in line with their values and customs. 

Our goal is to have three villages on board by the end of 2016, which will create jobs for over 60 households and affect 400 jobs, with an annual production of 2,000 lbs of finished tea. 

We are optimistic about the future. That sentiment is captured best in these words from Kailash, who has led our efforts to cultivate this new tea.

 

Risks and challenges

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." - Oscar Wilde

We've been working with these communities for over five years, which has given us a good amount of experience in putting together a realistic project -- a rock solid partnership with a local non-profit, firsthand knowledge of conducting work in the area, and deep relationships with the families we are serving. Still, as Mr. Wilde put it, there are dangers we'll face and here are a few:

1. The crop fails and we can't harvest our teas: We are making backup arrangements with a government-run tea nursery in the area to purchase unprocessed green leaves. This way, if our crop fails, we'll still have a tea grown in the region's soils that we process. We'll still be able to deliver on-time.

2. Technical expertise: Processing tea is an art. We begun learning that art when we processed our first batch of wild harvested tea in 2013. For the last 18 months, we've been learning how to make it better and better. One of the reasons we chose to make a white tea is because it's the least processed -- after harvesting, the leaf gets a long wither, then is heated to halt oxidization. That's it! Still, there is finesse to the process, and fortunately we're learning from the best Indian producers.

3. Our teas get hung up in shipping: International shipping of agricultural products is no joke. The good news is that tea is fairly straightforward to import -- we are dealing with a finished good, not a raw material, and tea is not produced in the US on a commercial scale, so there is not the same level of protectionism. We are working with the FDA to make sure the process is seamless, including file necessary paperwork months in advance. Just the same, obstacles come up, and to account for that we're budgeting three months for shipping.

4. Production Delays: To process tea, everything has to happen within 24 hours of being harvested. That means that once the tea reaches the US, the only thing we will have to do is repackage it. We already have a licensed production facility and have been in the business for over a year.

4. Budget overages: We've put together a budget that's based on experience working in the region, and had it reviewed by people in the industry. We also included 10% of our overall budget for "Unexpected" costs. We're confident these numbers will hold.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Seed the revolution!

    We'll include your name on the banner that will fly near our first plot.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    13 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Tea #1

    1 ounce of organic Kumaon white tea. Enough to make 10-15 cups.

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 74 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Tea #2

    3 ounces of organic Kumaon white tea. Enough to make 30-45 cups.

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 71 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Tea Gift #1

    1 gift set with three tins of rare organic Indian tea, including our Kumaon white and two teas from our teacher Indi Khanna in the Nilgiris -- a green and black from his prized collection.
    1 ounce of organic Kumaon white tea

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 45 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Our most anticipated reward, which we put together based on request from fellow tea drinkers!

    1 limited-edition travel tumbler
    3 ounces of organic Kumaon white tea

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 54 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    NEW REWARD BASED ON REQUEST

    1 gift set with three tins of rare organic Indian tea, including our Kumaon white and two teas from our teacher Indi Khanna in the Nilgiris -- a green and black from his prized collection.
    3 ounces of organic Kumaon white tea

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 14 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Tea #3

    10 ounces of organic Kumaon white tea. Enough to make 100-150 cups.

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 12 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Tea Gift #3

    2 gift boxes of rare organic Indian tea. One tin of our Kumaon white and two tins from our teacher Indi Khanna in the Nilgiris -- a green and black from his prized collection.
    1 limited edition travel tumbler
    1 ounce of organic Kumaon white tea

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 45 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Sponsor A Tea Sapling!

    1 sponsorship of a tea sapling, including pictures of the farmers who grow it, a hand written letter from their family, and updates throughout the year
    1 video conference with Raj while he's on-location to see the process of harvesting and processing tea as it happens.
    2 gift boxes of rare organic Indian tea. One tin of our Kumaon white and two tins from our teacher Indi Khanna in the Nilgiris -- a green and black from his prized collection.
    1 limited edition travel tumbler
    1 ounce of organic Kumaon white tea

    Please choose reward to see shipping charges.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    12 month Subscription Plan

    Receive one a tea per month for a year, beginning October 2015 with our Kumaon white. Each month, you'll experience the diversity of Indian teas as we explore the country and find new teas for you.

    In addition, you'll receive everything included in the Tea Sapling Sponsorship reward above.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Personal Experience

    All of the above with a highly personal touch. We'll work with you to make everything exactly to your taste. That includes the teas in your subscription plan, the design etched into your travel tumbler, and your relationship with the family who grows the sapling you sponsor.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Private Tasting with Raj

    Raj will come to you and guide you through India's best organic teas. Invite your friends to join as we venture through the country's teas and discuss every detail behind the project. US only.

    This reward also has everything in the Personal Experience reward above.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    An Authentic Tea Pilgrimage

    Travel with Raj to the foothills of the Indian Himalayas and experience the creation of this new tea region first-hand. Together we'll tour the Kumaon region on the border between India and Nepal.

    The trip will last 7-10 days and includes in-country travel, accommodations, food, and sight seeing. Please note it does not include the round trip ticket to India, or fees related to visas and immunizations.

    This rewards also includes everything in the Personal Experience reward above.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)