If you have been following us, you have heard a lot that there’s a lot of work and little harvest at the moment since the bushes need time to recover. But maybe you haven’t really dug deep into the story of how we started? So, here’s an overview of how we turned one of our plantations (there’s 3), Renegade Estate, from a complete jungle to a working plantation. Also, during the time of rehabilitation, we got so many different suggestions on what to do and what not to do. If you ever want to rehabilitate a tea plantation, then here’s what worked for us. It might not work in another climate, so you need to take into account the specifics...
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.
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.
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.
I have never been a teaholic, I have started my mornings with a cup of coffee and honestly still do, but I have also enjoyed tea every other evening or so. A year ago I was ok drinking tea made with a teabag and didn’t know that black tea and green tea come from the same plant. Also, it was news to me that black tea can be smooth and tasty and that it’s not unhealthy – a typical myth in Estonia. Hence, I can’t really say that deep love for tea was the driving cause for me… but I still got excited about being a tea farmer for several reasons.