MEET OUR FAB FARMERS
While deciding what should be the subject of our first blog post we realised there was really only one choice, the farmers. There are no two ways about it - we'd be totally lost without them. And there'd certainly be no tea!
When we were just starting out, the farmers would regularly accommodate us at Pindaya and in the surrounding villages, sharing their stories and expertise of Shan tea - something they have grown up alongside their entire lives.
They have a welcoming spirit and great sense of humour – something I was to find out first-hand on my very first trip to the area.
After a long day in the tea fields, it got late and was too dark to travel all the way back down to Pindaya. Lin Pyae (my tea guide at the time, now my business partner and close friend) said not to worry and suggested we visit the nearby village of A La Chaung. On arrival we met U Ba Ma, the village head (pictured in the leather jacket below), who insisted on feeding us and having us to stay the night.
In the morning I asked if I could have a shower. He kindly agreed and pointed down towards the well next to the house.
I wrapped myself in a longyi and headed to the well. Next to it I found a metal bowl which I needed to fill using the water from the well. The farms are high in the mountainous hills and it gets pretty chilly at night. As I filled the bowl I realized that the water was freezing cold!
Four of the farmers were sat on the wall in the farmyard watching me. Not wanting to lose face I poured the icy water over myself. And again and again and again.
After dousing myself half a dozen times I saw that the farmers were beside themselves with laughter.
I went over to them, shivering. They told me that obviously no-one showers like this in the mornings. Everyone waits until the afternoon or evening when the water has warmed. The couldn`t understand why the mad foreigner had chosen to shower when the water was so cold!
Let`s call that day one. And since then, amidst their laughter, I have felt at home.
Over the following months we built a relationship with the farmers who then agreed to supply the Lost Tea Company with their delicious high-quality tea. We were all excited at the prospect that the wider world was going to be able to experience their products.
Most of the 250+ small farms we work with have been in the hands of the same family for many years, handed down from generation to generation. This leads to a strong sense of pride about the leaves that each farm produces.
The following are a selection of the fantastic people we work with: