How often do you think about sustainability? What does it mean to you? Until I discovered Verdant Tea a few years ago, sustainability was just a nice word you expected a company to uphold but not necessarily talk about. What I’ve learned through Verdant Tea is that one does not just talk about sustainability, they live it. The three pillars, economic, environmental, and social, are their essence. And with each year that goes by you can see how their commitment is shaping the well being of the farmers they partner with. This in turn leads to amazing tea.
Location: Saint Paul, MN and partner farmers in China
- Advocating for small family farmers and transformative agriculture in tea through complete transparency- sharing the stories of the farmers- thinking of them as clients that we assist with logistics, not vendors, and investing back in the tea growing communities.
Most popular company tea(s)?
- The tasting kits are a great way to get to know a specific farmer’s work: https://verdanttea.com/tea/by-tea-type/tasting-kit
- Our oldest partner is the He Family, and He Qingqing is Verdant Tea co-founder. Her family’s most popular tea is Laoshan Black: https://verdanttea.com/tea/by-farmer/he-family-tea
Does the company name have a meaning?
- Yes! Verdant takes its name from the character for tea 茶, whose meaning comes from the radical component for growing plants. At the core of the meaning of tea is growth and abundance, an old-seal script throwback to the basic concept of life coming up from the soil. Verdant felt like the best English language word to capture the concept of growth and abundance that makes 茶 mean 茶。
Do you participate in any charities?
- Verdant Tea is most heavily invested in community building work in China, in the communities that grow the actual tea. This includes Li Xiangxi’s Yangxian Tea Institute, which is involved in tea research, Song Dynasty archaeology, and teaching Wuyi tea ceremony to a new generation. Verdant Tea is also involved in capital investment for the He Family cooperative in Laoshan to help more families gain access to tea craft equipment and knowledge, as well as work on rural school building in Qianjiazhai organized by cooperative head Master Zhou and Mr. Deng.
- In the United States, Verdant Tea donates to Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Table Arts, Association for Black Economic Power, Legal Rights Center, Restore North, United Renters For Justice, and Unicorn Riot.
What is your (or any of your other co-workers) favorite tea?
- From Chris – It’s hard to choose just one favorite! Seasonality is so important and one of the things I love about tea. If I had to choose, it would likely be Spring season teas, especially fresh Bilochun green tea from the He Family. There’s nothing like waiting all winter for the first pickings of Spring to become available and savoring the flavor of a fresh harvest.
- From David and Lily – Any tea that surprises us! The joy of tea is that every session brings something new to our understanding of the tea, the varietal, the person who made it, and the place where it is from. Being in China really energizes that thrill of being humbled by something totally unexpected.
What are your thoughts on transparency in the tea industry?
- Here’s a great article on that exact topic!
- We’d also recommend this article on the future of tea through small family farming: https://verdanttea.com/family-farming-and-the-future-of-tea
What role does tea play in our lives?
- Tea is a bridge between intangible beauty (the philosophy and poetry of the Daoist and Buddhist tea traditions, the memory of beautiful places, the hospitality of kind farmers, the skill and industry-shaking expertise of the best craftspeople, and of our relationship with nature), and tangible beauty. It takes those intangibles and puts them within reach through an encompassing experience of taste, texture and aroma.
TeaTiff Picks: This is another one where I truly can’t pick just one. They have so many amazingly crafted teas, however, I choose three that are on the top of my reorder list. King of Thieves Dancong. The first time I had session with this tea I was stunned by the flavor and the story is pretty cool too. Next we have Laoshan Osmanthus Black. I love this tea so much I can literally smell and taste it as I sit here typing without a cup of it. Last is Shi Feng Longjing #43. Dragonwell is a very well known name in the tea world but generally it is one I felt was uninspiring until I tried this one. Reminiscent of passionfruit and sweet grass, it will quickly become your favorite too. Lily was kind enough to give me a great explanation on the differences of Longjing and Dragonwell a few years ago, if you are interested feel free to check out that link.
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