|Miina Saak left an office job in Estonia to grow tea in Georgia (the nation)
Saak and her friends founded Renegade Tea Estate, taking advantage of Georgian government assistance in setting up their rented plantation.
Saak says the Georgian tea industry has seen a slight uptick in production from the low point in 2014, and there are now up to 3,000 tons produced per year. And the Estonian says the industry has a very specific reason to be optimistic about further growth.
Unlike in the tropics, where tea plants are regularly sprayed with pesticides, in Georgia it’s relatively easy to produce organic tea. “There are no natural enemies for the tea plant here because the winters kill the pests and bacteria,” she says.
|A rehabilitated tea plantation (light green patch in center) near Kutaisi.
Most of the landscape surrounding the rehabilitated land consists of overgrown tea plantations. Saak says her company has tried to crack the massive Russian tea market, but “the memories of Georgian tea are so terrible that [Russian people] don’t want to hear anything about it anymore.”
Instead, the market for high-end organic tea from Georgia is now mostly in Northern Europe and the United States. But it is hoped the brand can recapture its former glory as successfully as Georgia’s post-Soviet wines. Saak says the future lies in a focus on quality over quantity, and Georgian tea producers “need to go back to the roots of the industry."
|A tea bush in Georgia
photographed in 2019.
If we manage to tackle those things and keep the tea bushes alive and free, then with the help of local people from nearby villages, we gather tea leaves for our little factory. We are not tea sellers. We are tea producers. We have a small tea workshop where we are testing, failing, learning and again testing how to bring out the best of Georgian tea.
We are not trying to make "the best tea in the world", instead we produce some 20 different teas each year so each person would find their cup of tea. We are a group of friends who started this journey as complete rookies, but with a lot of optimism and thirst to learn we have come a long way.
|We also have daily territorial discussions with the village cows
who'd like to trim our tea bushes for lunch.
While there are still many things to learn and improve, our teas have got a lot of positive feedback from both casual drinkers and tea experts from all around the world. And what's even more important - despite the challenging starting years, the vision to be the most transparent tea farm out there has not changed and it feels as cool as on the day we started our journey. chasing cows off of Renegade Estate
FROM FIELD TO CUP:
Have you ever thought of where your tea is coming from? If you have been trying to look into it, then you probably know that it is usually not so easy. As the tea world is dominated by big whole-sellers and middlemen, then the regular package from the supermarket can easily say that it was "Made in Germany" without any other specifications.
We want to challenge the norm, leave out the middlemen and offer our teas straight from our farm to you. "We believe people should know where their food and drinks are originating from." Drinking Renegade teas: You know where and how your tea was grown. You can be sure that your tea is grown without any pesticides, herbicides or concentrated fertilizers in one of our plantations and processed in our small factory by either Tomas or Hannes.
You contribute to the revival of nearby villages. We hire people from nearby villages who haven't had a stable job after the collapse of the tea industry in the early 1990s. We offer them regular jobs and an honest and dignified salary. You get the full picture.
Each of our packages come with a detailed description - where it was grown, when it was harvested and what was the exact processing method we used to make this specific tea. We do not blend any of our teas and we never hide the origins or recipes. You get it with an affordable price.
ORDER TEA from Tea Shop: Hand-processed organic teas shouldn't be out of reach for a regular tea drinker. Leaving out the middlemen, we can offer our teas straight from a farm from 25 Euro cents per cup.
Visit Renegade’s Georgia Plantation: If you have any questions, ideas or special requests, don't hesitate to contact them :) email@example.com
This e-shop is run by: OÜ Renegade Tea Artisans Lodjapuu tee 8-1, Karla küla, Rae vald, Estonia, 75326 VAT nr. EE102069004 Reg. nr. 14365627 Tel. +37258131495
The Estate is located at Gumati 5412, Gumatiges, Georgia but suggest you contact them first at firstname.lastname@example.org
VISIT: The season at Renegade Tea Estate lasts from April to October, during this time we are more than happy to show you our tea plantations and small factory. The price for the tour is 50 GEL (about 12 EUR/14USD) per person and includes a package of tea!
In the winter we are not constantly here, so if you would like to come, please let us know in advance via email@example.com or via Facebook or call Hanna +995595885040. See you soon :)