Brand Spotlight: JusTea

The August box includes a unique tea from a special company. Purple Leaf Tea from Kenya is brought to us by JusTea, a forward-thinking company that provides jobs and sustainable wages to rural farmers. Paul from JusTea shares more about Purple Leaf Tea and the amazing they're doing in Kenya.

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Source: justeakenya on Instagram

What is Purple Leaf Tea?

Purple Leaf Tea is a natural cultivar of “Camelia Sinensis Assamica.”

Over 25 years ago the TRFK (Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, now known as the TRI, Tea Research Institute) began research on a ‘Purple Tea’ cultivar. The TRFK was able to successfully develop a new Purple cultivar by naturally crossbreeding it with the tea’s anthocyanin rich cousin “Camelia Irrawadiensis.” In 2011, the Tea Directorate finally began to encourage local farmers to plant the first of the purple tea bushes. This project could turn out to be the most significant and influential that the TRFK has ever undertaken.

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Source: justea.com

Does purple tea only grow in certain locations?

Purple Tea grows in less than 100 tea gardens across Kenya. The Purple Leaf Tea in the August box grows West of the Rift Valley in Nandi Hills - from the highest elevations of tea gardens in all of Africa at 2,047 m above sea level. 

Is purple leaf tea a new thing or just new to us?

It is not new in Kenya but it is definitely new to us here in the West! It is a very special tea and the farmers are very excited to share it with you!

What is your relationship with tea farmers in Kenya?

We work directly with small-scale farmers in Nandi Hills led by the Katah family. We travel back and forth to Kenya every year and have been there over 11 times. We were fortunate to host Boaz and his wife Jamila (our key partners), on their first trip to Canada earlier this year! Our teas are Fair Trade Federation certified and we have already created over 200 jobs in rural Kenya for women and youth.

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Source: justeakenya on Instagram

What purple tea blends do you offer and which one is the most popular?

We offer 4 different Purple Teas:

  • Purple Leaf Tea (Pure, unblended)
  • Purple Rain - Fruity blend
  • Purple Mint - Refreshing blend
  • Purple Jasmine - Floral blend

So far the most popular is Purple Rain but my personal favourite is the Purple Jasmine :)

Thanks Paul! Want to try more AND take advantage of a special offer?

Use the code TeaBox for 20% off all Purple Teas at justea.com.

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Brand Spotlight: Nepal Tea LLC

The March "St. Patrick's Day" tea box included a unique pot of gold: gold tea! Kumari Gold is a special black tea from Nepal Tea LLC, a social business venture that imports tea directly from its own tea estate while providing farmers with a sustainable income and free housing. Nishchal Banskota shares more about his company, including its background, tea, and farmer first approach.

How did Nepal Tea get started?

My father started a tea estate in 1984, which was Nepal’s First Certified Organic Tea Garden. The factory works on a co-operative model, which means the farmers are the owners themselves too. Eventually the tea was exported globally. Fast forward three decades, and here I am graduating with a liberal arts degree from New Hampshire. I soon realized that the Nepali tea we get in the US were brought through Germany, who bought their teas from middlemen. The supply chain was inefficient. The farmers have no choice but to agree to the price demands of these middlemen – if they pulled out, the estate and the farmers would have no revenue at all. Secondly, most teas from Nepal get mixed with Darjeeling teas due to their similarity, and we often lose our identity in the process. I started Nepal Tea with the vision of getting fair prices to both consumers and farmers, creating a simple and lean supply chain and creating an identity for the teas from Nepal.

Source: Nepal Tea Instagram

Tell us more about tea from Nepal. What is special about tea from that part of the world?

Nepali teas are produced in mountainous regions at an elevation of 3,000 – 7,000 feet above the sea level. People are familiar with Darjeeling teas. They are called the champagne of teas, and rightfully. Well, the only thing separating the teas from Nepal and Darjeeling is an imaginary national border – the tea farms are next to each other. The climate, elevation and growing conditions are pretty much the same. However, we have received feedback that Nepali teas taste fresh and are more aromatic since the crops of Nepali teas are newer, while tea plants from Darjeeling are centuries old. Our teas tend to be more floral as well. Another major distinction with our teas is the cultivation style, which features sustaining and complementing the natural cycle of the plants with various other complementary plants. You will need to visit the garden to see what I am talking about :)

Furthermore, we and many other tea farmers are experimenting with various different kinds of tea as well and in the coming days you might even expect some sophisticated oolongs and pu-erh teas. 

Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use and your commitment to avoiding artificial flavors?

We mostly specialize in orthodox teas produced through Camillia Sinensis and are specifically hand-plucked for this purpose. For our blends, we use organic spices grown in our garden itself such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger turmeric, rose petals, lemongrass and so on. We're not experts on herbal teas but we do know which tea blends well with the organic spices that we grow and hence have been very successful with our blends such as Buddha's Blend (White Tea base + Spices) and Mystique Melange (Green Tea base + Spices). We have not in the past and will not in the future use any form of artificial chemicals and or flavors to make our teas. Our commitment to being organic since inception can be traced back to all of the certifying bodies. 

Source: Nepal Tea LLC

Nepal Tea works hard to be socially responsible! Can you tell us more about those initiatives?

We operate on a farmer’s first approach. The farmers should get the most benefits, but most in Nepal still live in poverty. The teas they produce are excellent. Tea has such a profound economic impact, and we aim to direct that economy and give power to the farmers themselves. Our social models try to improve the lives of the farmers and their families, which creates a better community. Here are some highlights of our social impact:

1) Free Housing and Daily Necessities to the full-time farmers. 

2) Educational scholarship to all of the children of our full-time farmers. More than 2300 children have received education till date and have increased the number by 96 students last year. You can read more about the project and sponsor a child here.

3) Cow-Bank Project: We distribute cows to our farmers and  they earn extra income from them by selling dairy products from them. We only have one condition that the first calf it gives birth to is returned to the factory itself; not for our purpose but to distribute it to other farmers. We started with 36 cows and now we have more than 176 cows in total. You can read more about the project and even donate a cow to a farmer here.

4) We have many other projects in the pipeline such as thrift shop, rice mill and so on that will impact the farmers in a sustainable way. You can discuss them directly with me. Also, if you have any projects that you would like to initiate at our factory, please contact me. 

Source: Nepal Tea LLC

Which tea from Nepal Tea is your favorite?

My favorite tea is Kumari Gold. Not only does the taste take me back directly to the factory in Nepal but the name itself is very dear to my heart. I named the tea after my mother. Her middle name is Kumari and it means "Living Goddess" in Nepali. She was the first person who believed in the vision of my father in creating this organic tea garden and she planted the first tea bush in her backyard. The same garden has extended to hundreds of acres today and has provided employment to more than 600 farmers and educated more than 2300 children. Indeed, to me and all the farmers and their children she is a true living goddess. 

Thanks Nishchal! You can learn more and tea shop at nepalteallc.com.

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P.S. Nepal Tea just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign! See their story here:

Brand Spotlight: My Tea Bling

Did you receive My Tea Bling in your November Tea Box Express box? If so, you were in for a treat! This handmade item is certainly something special. My Tea Bling's founder, Tara, tells us more about her product and how she came up with her unique idea.

Source: myteabling on Instagram

What is My Tea Bling?

MyTeaBling is a handmade, stainless steel, Swarovski Crystal charm made to clip onto any tea bag!  Not to be confused with a tea infuser it is a truly unique idea!  The idea being that there is nothing in existence that "replaces" the usual string on your average bag of tea!  

Not only is it made to be fun and a celebration of how wonderful Tea makes us feel, but it is functional too!  Often times you may run across a bag of tea that does not have a string, but this solves that problem and can be used to help in a variety of ways!

Can My Tea Bling be used with all cups/mugs?

Yes it can!  The chain of the bling comes in 2 sizes:

One is made for average size mugs that are often used at home. And the other is a smaller size, known as the "Shortie,"  which is made for more traditional fancy style tea cups. 

I even use mine on the go to add some excitement to my tea when grabbing a cup to-go at my local coffee shop!  (Although, I would like to note to do this at your own discretion and to be super safe about it being careful that the lid is secure)!

Source: myteabling on Instagram

Can you use it with loose tea as well?

This was traditionally invented for the average American tea drinker who grabs their usual tea bags when shopping at the grocery store. However,  since using MyTeaBling I have found that loose leaf tea drinkers often use single-use tea filters for their tea.  These filters do not normally come equipped with anything to seal the bag closed.  So now, with MyTeaBling, you finally have a go to product that securely clips the bag shut with no mess or fuss that just happens to be blinged out with Swarovski Crystals!

What gave you the idea for My Tea Bling?

One day I was enjoying my usual afternoon cup of green tea to pep me up. I was at a coffee shop surrounded by people ordering things that sounded so fancy when I was handed my plain cup of tea with the little string hanging off of it.  I was struck with a feeling of wanting to fit in and feel special too!  After all, tea is so good for us and just makes you feel amazing when you drink it!

Then it hit me! I had a vision of a beautiful sparkling pendant hanging from my tea cup!  I thought to myself, "Wow! wouldn't it be cool if there was something more than this boring string hanging from my cup?!  Then my tea would certainly look as great as it makes me feel"!

I figured there must be something out there to replace this string and add some more excitement to tea time! But when I found that nothing like that existed... I created it!  

What colors do you offer and which one is the most popular?

Currently I offer Classic Clear, Pink (which I figured every girl could appreciate),  Amethyst Purple, and a Brilliant Vibrant Yellow. (I find that the Classic is the most popular probably because it would look beautiful on any variation color of cup).

But I knew that when I started this whole concept the idea was to really make each person smile and feel special and show their true selves!  So I am working on adding new colors every day!  In fact I am certain that as you are reading this a whole new batch of colors and concepts have probably already been made available! 

I aspire to have a full color spectrum!  People are truly unique and I feel everybody deserves to celebrate that with a color that sparkles and is something that they really love!  

What is your favorite tea?

My Favorite tea is Green Mint Tea.  The cool thing about that is that I realized that now when I use MyTeaBling I can add some fresh mint leaves to it by just simply clipping the mint along with my bag of tea!  The more I use it- the more fun things I find I can do with it!  

What is your favorite thing about having created this new invention?!

Ya know, I never really labeled myself as a "Tea Drinker" but what I didn't realize is that many people, such as myself, really are all along!  Because even if we sit down to a cup of tea a few times a week at work or at home- we all are really "Tea Drinkers"!  

Now that I created this product and dove head first into the world of tea out there I have not only tasted so many delicious flavors and tried so many fun things - but I have also met so many amazing people along the way!  It's so much fun just really enjoying this whole experience in the communiTEA!

Thanks Tara! To learn more and go Christmas shopping visit my-tea-bling.myshopify.com.

As you can see below, My Tea Bling made a fun and sparkly addition to the November box where it paired nicely with Nunshen tea sachets (mug not included).

November Box Photo Credit: katietdoodle

The Tea Box Express Christmas box is coming to town in mid-December! Subscribe or buy a gift today to secure yours!

Brand Spotlight: Nunshen

November is here and the Tea Box Express November box will ship out in less than two weeks! A team manager from Nunshen, the featured November tea company, was kind enough to share more with us about the company, including its Swiss roots, unique name, and special blends.

 
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Source: nunshen on Instagram

Can you tell us a little about Nunshen and how it got started?

It all started in 1938 in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. A Swiss family opened a tearoom called “Thé Tea Tee” (tea in French, English and German). In the early 2000s, the tea passionate Olivier Jardon-El Hiny fell in love with the shop's history and philosophy and bought the old boutique. To modernize the brand, he changed the name to Nunshen. From that time on, he dedicated his free time to create his own new, creative tea blends. By word of mouth, Nunshen quickly became famous among European tea enthusiasts.

Where does the name “Nunshen” come from?

 “Nunshen” is based on a 4000-year-old legend. Shen Nung was a Chinese Emperor and herbalist who tested for the first time the mix of boiling water and tea leaves. Delighted by these unexpected flavors, he spread the knowledge of tea virtues throughout China. Nunshen's brand name pays tribute to this hero of Chinese mythology.

What are some of the more unique or “special” teas that you offer?

As mentioned before, our founder Olivier creates his own tea blends and recipes. He experiments different mixes of leaves and spices before finding the perfect combination of flavors. Nunshen offers 7 unique blends that you will not find anywhere else. For green teas, we offer Fujiyama and Pomaika’I. As black teas, there are Rois Mages, Vent d’Automne, Kangchenjunga and Vol de Nuit. Finally, we offer a milky Oolong tea named Machu Picchu.

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

We source our teas and ingredients from all around the world: South Africa, India, China, Croatia, Japan, Ceylan, Taiwan… Quality is our number one priority. For our Master Selection for example, we directly source from the supplier in that country and work with worldwide famous Tea Masters.

What is the 1% for the Planet initiative?

1% for the Planet organization gathers businesses financially committed to create a healthy planet. Nunshen supports this initiative and is even part of it as a business. By giving 1% of our sales, we pay the “Earth tax” and help fund environmental groups. Since 2002, 1% for the Planet has initiated over $50 million in environmental giving. Because the environment is a key component of the quality of our tea leaves, we support strongly this initiative. Moreover, that’s why our tea muslins are made from biodegradable natural materials with no artificial additives.

Which Nunshen tea is your favorite?

My favorite Nunshen tea is from our Unique blends selection. It is named Pomaika’I, which means in Hawaiian “a true perfection of balance”. It is one of our most complex creations: the strong suavity of black tea meets the freshness of green tea. With orchids, lychee, apricots and mint, it is hard not to fall for Pomaika’I!

Thanks Nunshen! For more information check out nunshen.com.

You can still subscribe or buy the November box as a gift through November 5th.