Renegade Rumblings

Season two as tea farmers in Georgia- let's go!

Season two as tea farmers in Georgia- let's go!

Team Renegade is back in Georgia and ready for action! Being away from the tea fields and endless surprises that life in Georgia has to offer, and spending time with our close ones more was really something to be enjoyed, but now we are all more motivated than ever to face season nr two for Renegade Tea Estate!

Seems like a perfect time to put down some goals for this season.

Tea for dummies 101

Tea for dummies 101
As we are rookies in the tea field ourselves, we have come across many myths regarding tea and we know it can get a little difficult understanding what is true or not, so we put together some points to help you on this journey when you are just getting started - green and black tea come from different plants, green tea is bitter, black tea is bitter, dark side of tea industry, black tea has the most caffeine, green tea has the most caffeine, tea is a one year plant, camellia sinensis is a small bush,, tea bags are from hell.

Tea and Georgia - what have you taught me?

Tea and Georgia - what have you taught me?
So, at the beginning of 2018, I had just left my job in Estonia, preparing to become a tea farmer in Georgia. Even now it sounds a bit crazy when writing it down :) Did the year go as I visioned? Of course not! But it didn’t also go worse or better, it just went differently. Because, if you have never lived in that specific country and you are doing something for the first time of your life, then you don’t really have anything to base your expectations on.

Lessons of Shifu

Lessons of Shifu
I guess it’s clear that being newbies in the tea field, we need some help from experts. We were in contact with a few and we researched and read a lot ourselves as well, but already at the beginning of the season, we felt that we need someone with a wide experience to come and see our plants, the soil and the climate to give us more specific advice and feedback. So, we invited Sonam Paljor Lama from Nepal to consult us, mainly for 2 reasons – to get a better understanding of our plantations and plants and to learn the basics of making tea.

Back to the corporate world?

Back to the corporate world?
The last 4 months have been everything I expected it to be. Those months have challenged me mentally and physically and for sure pushed my borders. It has been at times exhausting, but I have never had any regrets, not once. So, when I decided to accept a position as a temporary CEO of Nordica (Estonian national aviation group) two weeks ago, it was not because I missed the airconditioned office or would be giving up on tea farming. But before I explain this decision in more details, let's start from the beginning... 

How we ran a 40-day marathon of crowdfunding

How we ran a 40-day marathon of crowdfunding

Selling a product that you actually do not even have yet, and doing it intensively for 40 days in a row is definitely not an easy task, and even though we did not reach our full goal in Indiegogo I am brave enough to say that actually we did quite well with our crowdfunding campaign- 221 people who chose to trust and believe in us!

I have never run a marathon, but I would imagine that it feels kind of the same as running a crowdfunding campaign- long time for preparations (a whole lot more than I would have thought), then you really push everything out of yourself to power through and finally the feeling of accomplishment when you reach that 42 km mark...

The price of tea. Do you know, for what you are paying?

The price of tea. Do you know, for what you are paying?
There is no lack of choices when it comes to teas. We can drink some of the most exclusive teas in the world and pay 1 EUR for our cup and we can also enjoy very high-quality organic tea for 25-30 cents per cup. Those sums are not huge, yet most people still decide to pay 5-6 cents for the lower quality mass production teas. This decision is often made at the nearest supermarket when we purchase our regular 25 teabags box for 1,5-2 EUR.  A shiny package which holds 40-50 grams of tea dust, literally dust.

გამარჯობა- learning Georgian!

გამარჯობა- learning Georgian!
Georgian is amongst the 10 oldest languages in the world and apparently, Georgians decided somewhere in the very early stages of history that they want their very own everything. Therefore they came up with the Georgian language- Kartuli ena and alphabet- Georgian script. It had three different versions but the one that is used now mostly consists of letters that for me look like the Latin “M” (none of them is actually an “M”), number 6 or number 3.

Why did the Georgian tea industry collapse?

Why did the Georgian tea industry collapse?
With its subtropical climate, western Georgia is an ideal place to grow tea. Chilly nights and cold winter months prevent disease and therefore there is no need to use pesticides which makes the conditions great to produce organic tea. The cool climate together with acidic soil gives also a special taste and aroma to the tea – the leaves mature more slowly and result in a smooth and soft taste. The higher its grown, the more exquisite the taste. Although the conditions are superb for tea, the history of Georgian tea is very diverse with many ups and downs. Glorious moments have constantly been gloomed by war or economic problems.

One month as a real farmer

One month as a real farmer
I am old enough to know, that usually things do not go as planned and I was mentally prepared, that the beginning will not be easy. I also knew that I was largely on my own until our other team members arrive in mid-April. So, all in all, I can happily conclude, that everything has gone more or less as expected. Probably the most important thing is, that I have enjoyed my new life as a farmer, even if I often did not enjoy the challenges I have faced. Now, one month later, I have learned quite a bit, solved our first crisis's and at the same time, somehow managed to stay as enthusiastic as I was 🙂. It can only go better as we go forward.

Tea- what it is and and how it's made?

Tea- what it is and and how it's made?
I have to admit that my knowledge about tea before Renegade-time mostly consisted of the fact that there is hot water involved and something soaked in it. Now that I have made some research I must admit that the tea world is much more exciting (and a lot more complicated) than it seems.

Cleaning of Renegade Estate

Cleaning of Renegade Estate
The tea plantation, located near Opurchkheti, Imereti, had been abandoned for nearly 30 years. The fields were completely covered with weed and bushes, tea plants hidden under it. It was a plantation that was one of the last ones we found during our search. But it made an impression to us. Though it is located near the main road, once you stand in the plantation, there is complete silence and calmness. So, we decided to bring it back to life. During a 3 month period, the whole area was cleaned from fern, bushes and small trees. The land was cultivated and tea plants cut, so new sprouts could start growing. A lot remains to be done, but new leaves are growing and we plan to get our first harvest in summer of 2018.