Tea is the new elixir of life

Kiran Tawadey sells healthy, restorative and delectable organic tea

Jurriaan Kamp | December 2003 issue

Sometimes motherhood sparks the entrepreneurial spirit. It all started with her son’s persistent eczema. After much searching, the culprit turned out to be chemical additives in the cheap orange juice from a London supermarket. Kiran Tawadey: ‘I grew up in India, where people squeezed the oranges. I had no idea about additives.’ The experience with her son brought Tawadey in contact with the British consumer organisation Parents for safe food.

During a holiday in India, she talked of her experience with family friend and third-generation tea cultivator Rajah Banerjee. He told her his Makaibari plantation in Darjeeling had been converted to organic production. ‘I don’t use any chemicals anymore,’ he explained. ‘Too much erosion, too many illnesses among the plantation workers.’ Without any special mention of his production methods, Banerjee sold his tea at the auction in Calcutta. Tawadey tried to convince her friend that he should market it as organic tea. ‘If you are so convinced,’ he parried, ‘do it yourself.’

Which is exactly what Tawadey – then 27 – did, although her business experience was limited to a few years’ management training with the Dubai branch of the ABN Amro bank. Hampstead Tea, named after the neighbourhood in London where Tawadey lives with her husband and two sons, had become a reality. In 1990 she began the certification process for the Makaibari plantation, which created the basis for the first recognised organic tea plantation in India. Then she started her search for customers. The superb quality of the tea led to quick success: a German organic tea purchasing company bought the harvest for two years.

But Tawadey wanted more – her own brand that she would sell herself. Together with her husband, who took a six-month leave from his job as a banker, she took this new step with Hampstead Tea. It meant that Tawadey, herself a ‘seasoned tea aficionado’, had to conquer an important personal conviction. ‘Real tea is loose-leaf, but the reality is that a lot of people prefer to make tea using a teabag.’

Hampstead Tea – which is sold in its own striking package – is now sold in the United States, England and the Netherlands, among other places. Forty percent of Makaibari plantation’s annual 130,000-ton crop yield is sold in these countries with the remainder going to organic tea purchasing companies in various countries.

In India, Rajah Banerjee not only handles organic production at the Makaibari plantation, but also ensures favourable working conditions for the tea pickers. The salaries are in line with other plantations in Darjeeling, but the difference is that all 1,600 pickers receive an annual bonus and, above all, enjoy better living conditions in their compound on the plantation. The proof is in the product’s success. The Makaibari plantation workers never go on strike while strikes by the local militant Ghurkha population are rife at other plantations.

Justice comes at a price. Hampstead Tea is considerably more expensive than the average package of tea. But the quality cannot be compared. For Kiran Tawadey tea is ‘the new life elixir’: healthy, restorative, delectable. And why should tea be organic? ‘Unlike fruits, for example, tealeaves are never washed after they are harvested. Everything that is sprayed on the plants, ultimately lands in your cup.’

The Hampstead Tea & Coffee Co. Ltd., PO Box 2448, London NW11 7DR, United Kingdom, telephone +44 208 731 9833, www.hampsteadtea.com.

Solution News Source



We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy