When you purchase Organic Assam Black Tea from The Leprosy Mission Shop, you are directly supporting a small tea farming family in India – and helping people affected by leprosy!
The story of Eastern Himalayas Tea began three-and-a-half years ago when Australian couple Derek and Trish travelled to India to go ‘WWOOFing’.
WWOOF – which stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms – is a network that connects volunteers with organic farm owners to learn and promote ecologically-sound growing methods.
Derek and Trish had previously hosted overseas visitors on their farm in Gympie, Queensland. But this time it was their turn to be the guests as they travelled to a three-acre tea plantation in Assam in north-east India.
There, they met plantation owners Bijit and Swapna Basamatary, who run their family farm with a small team of full time workers.
During their stay, Derek and Trish discovered that their hosts were Christian.
“We are Baptists…and they helped connect us with the Baptist church in the local town while we were there,” Derek said.
The Basamatarys are proud that their tea is accredited with 100% organic certification.
With the tea plantation situated nearby a national park, the Basamtarys use only natural and sustainable farming processes to protect local flora and fauna from harmful chemicals.
Cow and stock manure act as fertiliser and natural methods are used to keep insects off the plants.
“Our motivation is similar – we feel that we don’t want to be part of a process of introducing more chemicals into the environment,” Derek said.
“On the spot we made the decision to buy a small amount of tea from them and bring it into Australia, repack it and sell it.”
The tea grown and produced by the Basamtarys is sold in Australia under the label Eastern Himalayas Tea. It is now available for purchase through The Leprosy Mission Australia Shop.
Derek believes the partnership between Eastern Himalayas Tea and The Leprosy Mission is something that “God had a hand in”.
“We looked at The Leprosy Mission as a calling and something for us to involve ourselves in terms of how we connect with people,” he said.
When Derek first travelled to India 15 years ago, he visited a leprosy colony and witnessed the discrimination experienced by people affected by leprosy.
It’s a memory that still resonates with him all these years later.
“One of the things that struck me was how isolated they were. The dehumanising happens when people are segregated because of something they have no control over; their humanness is diminished because no one wants to talk with them, no one wants to touch them, no one wants to have anything to do with them,” Derek said.
“But it’s also about the psychological effect of someone believing there’s something fundamentally wrong with them as a person…and the social stigma that happens as a result.”
By drinking organic tea from Eastern Himalayas Tea, you are providing an income to Bijit and Swapna’s workers - and helping overturn the stigma for people affected by leprosy! You can purchase your tea here: https://www.leprosymission.org.au/product/organic-orthodox-black-tea/