Our partner Shan Valley shares the story of tea sourcing in Myanmar, which was recently approved as our 68th country project. Whole Planet Foundation is committed to alleviating poverty in countries where Whole Foods Market sources product. These product connections enable us to fund microcredit in a given country. Learn about Shan Valley’s tea sourcing below!
When people think about where tea comes from their minds normally go to China, India, or Japan. But tea is actually grown all over Southeast Asia. To the people in this region, the Shan State in Myanmar (Burma) is the hotspot for some of the best teas on earth. Why?
The first is its climate. Tea grows best on mountainside peaks and cool temperatures. The climate of Shan is very similar to the climate of Switzerland. The high elevation and perfect soil acidity make tea an important export of this state. Also, the Shan State shares a large border with China. Chinese traders who want to sell teas in India had to go through this region. This makes Shan tea traders very knowledgeable about what makes the perfect tea, no matter the variety. In fact, tea is so important that the Burmese actually eat tea leaves as a salad called lahpet!
Yet for decades, world access to Burmese tea has been cut off due to political strife. The secrets teas of Shan were lost to the rest of the world until quite recently. Shan Valley is operated by a 3rd generation Burmese tea farmer who immigrated so he could bring this tea to America. Shan Valley has connections to local tea plantations in Shan State that still grow their tea with organic methods and fair labor. We never import our tea from other companies! We only get our tea directly from farmers and families.
These close connections allow us to be fair-trade, and also gain access to the full range of teas these farmers have to offer like our Shan First Flush Green Tea (First Flush Green Tea), our Kokang Green Tea, and our Kyakume Black Tea (First Flush Black Tea). Every one of our packages tells you the year that the tea was harvested, so you know that our tea is fresh. Plus, we also regularly test our teas to ensure high quality standards. Our teas also come in a variety of strengths to accommodate different tastes. Shan Valley teas are grown in Kyaukme town, Northern Shan State, Myanmar (Burma) and locally prepare in United States. We offer both boxes of tea bags and one-pound bags of loose teas, which are very economical because you can get multiple steeps, and the knowledge of centuries of tea cultivation and the warmth of the Burmese people will flow to you in every sip.
We are excited that our sourcing of tea from Myanmar enables Whole Planet Foundation to fund microloans and alleviate poverty in this country. We hope our product will bring a broader awareness to the high quality of Burmese teas and further help the local economy of the Shan people.