Smaller Farms. Clean Ingredients.
Since 2012 Metolius Tea has actively sourced as many ingredients as possible direct from small co-op and family-owned farms, buying local whenever possible. While there is a place for corporate scale, we have found more vibrant flavors, values and relationships at the individual level. While some of our farmers are too small to be certified organic (a big business unto itself), they all practice sustainable farming, have a social cause and have a commitment to growing clean. Below are the stories of a few of our most cherished farmers.
We source lemongrass, chamomile, and hibiscus from a women’s farming co-op in Eastern Kenya. Their mission is to empower women, alleviate poverty, and improve farmers’ standard of living. The 470 small-scale farmers receive sustainable incomes, education, irrigation, and financial services in exchange for their quality, organically grown herbs.
Located in northeast India, the Assam region is renown for its bountiful tea gardens. However, the high-volume of production has brought tea farmers and elephants into conflict. Aware of the increasing issue there is a growing conservation movement to introduce elephant friendly practices. We source a portion of our tea from Bodosa Farms, owned by Tenzing Bodosa and his family, which was the first tea garden in the world to become Certified Elephants Friendly.
Our partner in Madagascar sources our vanilla direct from co-op farmers who practice sustainable farming in an effort to protect the unique rainforest biodiversity in the north-east coast of Madagascar. This direct-trade model ensures farmers are paid a premium for their crops while providing a globally competitive product.
In 2015 we befriended some lovely people from Yunnan, China. So naturally we flew out in 2016 to tour the region. We tasted a lot of artisan crafted black teas from small, high end farms. Ultimately, we selected three farms who produce incredible teas, filled with depth, body, maltyness with no bitterness, and just a little taste of wild. Glinting with large gold buds, this class of tea yields a simultaneous feeling of calm and wakefulness: truly an artisanal experience. We use Yunnan black tea in a number of our blends, including our popular Black & Gold and Golden Needles.
While many tea companies use synthetic (artificial or natural) flavoring instead of the proper and far more expensive true bergamot, we use the real deal. We decipher Italian invoices and convert Euros on price quotes. The bergamot comes in large steel cylinders padded with Italian newspapers. It’s fun working with so many different cultures around the world! Real bergamot oil, extracted from the rind of a fruit similar to a grapefruit, is naturally both citrusy and slightly bitter. Bergamot calms the nervous system and stimulates the digestive system. We go to such lengths to produce the very best earl grey tea.
And of course, we always try to source as locally as possible, including in our backyard. We partner with several lavender and bachelor button farmers in Central Oregon to bring vibrant and soothing floral notes to Metolius Teas.