Tea is isolated from most drinkers, grown near the tropics in highland farms, but JusTea wants you to be connected to the farmer, the place of production and the way it arrives in your kitchen.
When we walk down the steep path off the dirt road, chickens scatter and dogs bark ferociously. We are greeted by our friend’s aunt, plus 2, no make that 3 little ones scampering around the steep trail. We are up in the foothills of Mt Kenya, with new friends that we met in Nairobi. They wanted to bring us up into the back country – through winding roads swerving around the axle-breaking potholes, through jade hued tea bushes, to meet their relatives. It’s a sun dried 3-room mud hut, and as I duck to enter the dark windowless room, my eyes adjust to see the sofas, colorfully decorated with lace and red cloth, the walls arranged with over 30 family photos, many pastoral prints of pictures, including an English windmill on a river.
Then in the corner, there’s Grandma, slowly attempting to rise and greet us. She speaks only the tribal language, so we give a quick greeting and settle into the wonderful Kenyan hospitality – a thermos of Kenyan tea and Kigieri – roasted nuts and corn. Grandma stares cautiously at the three white faces across from her, through her daughter she tells us that we are the first Mzungus – whites – that she has seen since the British Colonizers left in the 1960’s. She says she holds no resentment to us for what the British did to her tribe. We don’t ask, but can only imagine the stories behind the sun-creased face. We thank her again for inviting us to share her home with us.
Do you know where your tea is from?
This Grandma needs more than a hand-out, she needs a future for these little kids, a farm that earns enough to support the family. Maybe if she was part of a tea processing co-op that was able to sell their tea directly to the export market, she could afford enough to buy uniforms, and send these children back to school. JusTea is working to create these partnership opportunities for Kenyan tea farming families. We want to connect you to where your tea is from and the farmer that made it all possible. We encourage you to move from being unaware to informed, from passive to active!