I set one work-related goal for myself today (Friday 26th of June) – to have a brainstorm with myself regarding sales-boosting content that could be created for our channels. To get the word about our teas out to the world so people would consider trying them. So, I went to my morning run to have this brainstorm with myself. This method usually works, but today I just got too overwhelmed and here it is – totally non-sales-boosting content. It is just one transparent and honest blog post about the rollercoaster of my emotions during these crazy times. At the beginning of the year, we promised to show also the not so bright moments of our journey and a disclaimer – this post won’t be a fun and bubbly story about being a tea farmer in Georgia. I am just letting some emotions out that I am struggling with at the moment.
Last time I wrote a more personal post regarding our journey as tea farmers in December (you can read that blog post HERE). Never did I ever think that we will be hit by the pandemic and everything will be turned upside down. So let's rewind to the beginning of the year when everything seemed to go according to our plan – Mario went to Georgia several times, to prepare the plantations for the upcoming season. I think it was his 3rd trip to Georgia when we understood that situation in the world is getting out of hands and the possibility that the borders will be closed was getting real. Our original plan was to go to Georgia with the whole family at the beginning of April, but during Mario’s last stay in Georgia in mid-March, it was pretty clear that we would need to get there faster. It was 14th of March (Mario was supposed to come home on the next day) when I was crying in Estonia – in the beginning, because I wanted Mario to get home as it got more clear that borders will be closed soon and it kind of happened that Kendrick (our son) was constantly sick from the time we got back to Estonia in September and I couldn’t imagine how I would survive without Mario for a longer period, I was exhausted. Then I cried on the same day because I thought that maybe Mario should still stay in Georgia to help out Kristiina and Hannes on the spot during the “closed borders period”. In the end, we decided that Mario will come home and we will try to get back to Georgia within a few days. This never happened! Flights were cancelled the next day when Mario arrived and now, 4 months later I am sitting in our kitchen in Estonia and I am filled with such mixed feelings. I got an extra kick yesterday when we received information that our flight to Georgia which now was planned to be on 3rd of July, might not happen, again.
I am glad and grateful that the overall situation in the world didn’t stop us, Renegade Tea Estate, to function. We still managed to get our things going and our spring flush was 3 times bigger than last year, despite the hardcore restrictions that took place in Georgia (I am comparing it with Estonia, as we have stayed here during the whole time and the restrictions have been a lot looser). When at some point the city was in full lockdown (couldn’t use the cars to get to the plantations), when all the tea makings needed to be scheduled according to the curfew… We wouldn’t function without the local people in Georgia who help us with cleaning works and plucking, but in the end, there was and still are only Kristiina and Hannes from our original 7 people team on the spot. They have done a badass job and I cannot be more proud to be on this journey together with such hardworking people. But none of us signed up for this, as a countless amount of other companies that had even worse struggles caused by the pandemic.
I can but also cannot imagine what it means to be on the spot in Georgia at the moment with only two people on the place. I know the amount of work that is needed to get everything running in plantations and the factory, but as our volumes are getting bigger each year, I kind of cannot imagine the real situation that we are facing there. What some of my team members are facing at the moment. In the end, we have worked as a team, by supporting as much as possible from Estonia and Lithuania and taking as many tasks as we can to operate sufficiently (considering the whole situation). Sometimes it feels that people think that being a tea farmer is just purely being a person on the field and making tea but in general it is a lot more. I just recently wrote a blog post that explains what happens with tea leaves after they arrive at the factory until our tea friends will receive their delivery – you can read it HERE.
I have always struggled with the feeling of guilt when I cannot perform as I would like to. I have been lucky enough to work together with amazing people and doing something that I love, but being apart from the team and being in a position where you cannot fully support the system…
Until now we have rebooked our flight to Georgia at least 5 times. Yesterday it was told that “most likely” our trip on 3rd of July will be cancelled, today some channels claim that it will be possible. Being in this weird limbo of not knowing has made me feel… weird, sad, frustrated. I know it is getting to my team members in Georgia as well as they have families in Estonia that they haven’t seen for 4 months and I believe that countless hours of work in the plantations and the factory together with “not knowing” doesn’t make it easier.
We hope and believe, as we like to say, that we can reunite with the whole team on the 3rd of July and end this season together. I know that this might be too much to ask but let’s see. Just need to keep our heads up. Somehow.
Just adding the link to our tea showroom HERE. A selection of some of our spring teas is available and ready to send out immediately. Now when I have put my thoughts “on the paper” maybe some better sales-boosting content will appear soon :)
An update, an hour after I laid my emotions here, our flight got cancelled. Again. We rebooked it to the 31st of July.
Another update, some hours after I made my last update about the cancellation and our rebooking, our flight got cancelled, again. Our new flight is the 3rd of August.
21st of September 2019, Renegade Tea Estate
Written by Hanna