I learned about Tea Rebellion online when Annabel, the owner, was part of a fundraising campaign to fund a school in Nepal. Therefore, when I met Annabel at the 2019 Toronto Tea Festival, I knew that I wanted to spotlight her brand.
The core foundation of Tea Rebellion comes from the idea that Annabel, while studying agriculture and working in El Salvadore and the Dominican Republic, realized that the farmer’s market needed to be improved. She wanted to “shake things up” and “transform” the tea industry and change the way tea is traded, marketed and consumed through a social enterprise: Tea Rebellion.
Tea Rebellion carries teas from multiple farms around the world such as Nepal, Malawi, Kenya, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan. Each farm is spotlighted via the website and on the back of each pouch of tea. I find sometimes tea farmers are hidden in the background, so I really appreciate that Annabel openly showcases them.
(Via. Tea Rebellion)
While all the farms sounded interesting, I wanted to try the Nepal teas from the organic tea cooperative Kanchanjangha because that is how I learned about the brand. I thought it was really admirable for her (and others, such as Nepal Teas), to not only support the farms through sourcing but also through actively helping the community.
Kanchanjangha Tea Estate was launched in 1984 at the foothills of Mt. Kanchenjunga, which borders Darjeeling at an altitude of 1300-1800m. Over 100 farmers banded together and pooled their “marginal” landholding into the first orthodox tea garden spanning 94 hectares of land.
Today, the cooperative is made out of 173 members: 129 work in the garden and 44 in the factory. Workers receive free housing, subsidized food and education for their children. Additionally, Kanchanjangha supports other farmers by providing organic certification and technical support who have in turn established their own small factory. The cooperative also has a cow bank project which started with 36 cows and has now grown to 176 cows. This allows a farmer to receive cows and to earn extra income.
Therefore, the fundraising for school was vital because the cooperative is in a remote region, and a small elementary school would provide a safe place for the children to be educated nearby. 12 families were directly helped with the school being built and it allowed them to stay on the upper mountain. This went hand in hand with the existing scholarships provided by Kanchanjagha to all the children of the cooperative and full-time workers. I was happy to hear the school was funded! The school has been built but there is no schooling yet. The hope is to start in July, pending on approvals and finding a teacher.
Lucky for me, Tea Rebellion offers a range of teas from Kanchanjangha. Annabel suggested I try: White Prakash and Kumari Gold. I knew that I wanted to review both to compare. I find it really useful to compare teas from the same farm to learn about the area.
Now with a brief history of the brand and the cooperative, let’s go.
Description: “White Prakash is the superior quality white tea. It’s made from the baby plant only in a special time in the spring and with virtually no processing. … While slightly darker than some white teas, White Prakash includes vanilla, spring blossoms and melted butter notes.”
Instructions: One spoonful for one cup | 79- 82℃/ 175- 180°F water | 4 minutes
Review: I always admire a nice white tea and its fuzzy buds! This one was plentiful in that. The buds were slightly darker in colour, and I noticed more brown leaves compared to a Silver Needle. The dry leaves had a sweet floral aroma, that reminded me a bit of a garden. When wet, the leaves were more of an olive green and the buds had mostly unfurled after 4 minutes. It had an earthy musky, grassy note, which I hadn’t expected. The liquor was a light golden yellow with the classic sweet hay smell intermixed with some earthier notes.
When hot, there was a nice sweetness to it. It had a nice mellow earthy note with some mild hay notes. There was a hint of dryness at the back of the throat. I found I liked this tea slightly better when cooled because the flavours came out more and the sweetness is more pronounced. White teas can sometimes be fairly subtle, but this one had a nice range of flavours (4/5 rating).
- Type: White tea
- Origin: Nepal
- Caffeine: Unknown
- Ingredients: Organic white loose-leaf tea
- Other: Certified Organic by Ecocert for Canada Organic Regime and USDA, 1st prize at The 2019 Toronto Tea Festiva
- Company: Tea Rebellion
Description: “Kumari Gold is a specialty black tea processed from the young tea bushes and contains high volume of essential oils. The liquor is bright golden and produces a full-bodied, banked fruit flavour tea with a lasting finish.”
Instructions: One spoonful for one cup | 95℃/203 °F water | 4-5 minutes
Review: Visually, the dry leaves were dark and twisted in contrast to the golden tips. It smelled rich, warm, malty and cocoa. When wet, the leaves unfurled and it was a mixture of leaves and buds. The liquor was a reddish brown colour after a 4-minute infusion, with a sweet, earthy cocoa note
The liquor had a nice range of flavours – starting earthy, with notes reminding me of rich cocoa and ending with a touch of briskness. Letting the liquor cool brought out some of the rich notes. However, I noticed a hint of astringency in the middle of the sip, which quickly went back to earthy and fruity. Lastly, there was dryness in the back of the mouth. Overall, this is a nice black tea that would be good at breakfast if you aren’t a fan of the strong briskness that some black teas have (3.5/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: Nepal
- Caffeine: Unknown
- Ingredients: Organic black loose-leaf tea
- Other: Certified Organic by Ecocert for Canada Organic Regime and USDA, 5th prize at The 2019 Toronto Tea Festival
- Company: Tea Rebellion
Overall, I really support the goals and ambitions of Tea Rebellion. I enjoyed the White Prakash slightly more, which surprised me. But I liked the range of flavours it had for a white tea.
I noticed that the website mentioned that White Prakash and Kumari Gold are only available in Canada and the United States. Hopefully this changes in the future! The brand’s website also has more information about the farms and posts such as training your palate and making cold brew tea. Lastly, Tea Rebellion’s new packaging is made from 100% compostable films and ink! A great environmental idea.
Question of the post: What are your thoughts on tea farming?