So, where does our name come from? Per se, Renegade is not necessarily a positive name. It is often referred to as an outlaw, deserter or something similarly negative. Usually, people don’t like disruptors, who do things differently and disregard the traditions or generally accepted behaviours. Still, we felt that exactly this name – Renegade – is the one that best characterizes the nature of our project.
It made sense to us because ever since we started with the project, we all felt like Renegades – someone who has chosen a different path and don’t let the rules of a “normal life” disturb. We have asked from ourselves and each other, how sane our choices have been. Abandoning the long-built professional careers and safety of the "regular income"? And for what? To become tea farmers, even though we didn’t know much about tea plantations? Betting our future and small savings on building a Tea Estate in a country, where hundreds of tea plantations have been just lying around for decades and almost nobody saw any value in them? Idealistic idiots? Outcasts, who couldn’t handle the pressure? Maybe... But we didn’t let those thoughts disturb us much, we saw that this is something that is exciting and where we can do something that actually matters to us and hopefully to others as well. And frankly, we just needed to try it out.
Tea industry & Renegades
On the authenticity scale, the tea industry, in general, is worse than many – global brands launching global advertising campaigns, showing cosy mood boards and social bonds, formed at the tea table. The other side of the coin, that those companies do not advertise, is mass production - the fact that tens of thousands of people, working in the tea plantations in Africa, earn 2-3 dollars per day. More than 90% of the money you pay for your tea goes to middlemen and traders and in return you get some random low-quality product, made as cheaply as possible, to satisfy the rules of the mass-market game. Oh, did we forget the "fair trade" type of initiatives, which promise a fairer share of revenues to the farmers and plantation workers – a full 20-50% more? Nope, we didn’t - instead of 2,5 dollars, they get 3,5...
Workers pick tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya’s highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Photo by Noor Khamis/Reuters)
We see ourselves as Renegades also because we want to build a different kind of Tea Company. We want to avoid "corporization" and exponential growth. Quality is important to us, but it's not to show off. We will not measure our success by how many international awards we win, as we don’t make our products for tea sommeliers, expecting their praise. Well, we certainly would be glad about it as well, should it go like that, but it's not why we do it. Our ideal is not to become the global tea behemoth, but to build the most authentic small Tea Estate you can find. Focusing on the highest quality standards while growing and processing the tea and developing authentic and personal relationships with our customers. We want to be tea farmers, hands in the dirt, wearing rubber boots. And we want to stay like this. We want to tell you about our plans and successes and also failures. What we produce at our Estate will always be real and honest – something our team can always take responsibility for.
Most people would probably not care much and still get their teabags from the local supermarket, as they always do. However, we do believe that we will succeed. We have every reason to believe that Georgia is one of the best places on Earth to grow high-quality tea, despite the current dire straits of the local tea industry. We are also confident, that our teas will be healthy and taste well from the very beginning and that over the years we will be producing one of the best teas around. And we believe that people actually want to know where their food and drinks are coming from and don’t want to get anonymous average quality produce from the unknown farm.
This is us - the ones who produce, package and send the tea to you.
Kristiina, Miina, Tomas, Hannes, Priit.
Should it still happen for whatever reason, that our project will not be successful, we will have no regrets, that we chose the path of the Renegades. We have one life, we need to have the courage to live it. For us, it is a huge excitement to try to build up a world-class Tea Estate from scratch and to help the historical Georgian tea industry to rise again. We are enthusiastic to learn new things and absorb new experiences. As all of us come from small towns, we love to go back to our roots and spend more time in the countryside... So, we’re good, whatever comes.
If you happen to be one of those people, who like our project, you are probably a bit of a Renegade too, at least inside. Help us to realize this project! And then go and do something you care about, what makes you passionate, what you have always dreamt of. Don’t be afraid, be a Renegade.