Missing home one afternoon in July 1989, having just moved to London from India, Kiran took time off from mothering 2 little boys, and dropped in to the Tea board of India’s London office. There was the usual warm welcome and a flurry of tea cups, and in Rajah Banerjee walked, full of his infectious enthusiasm for his beloved Makaibari estate in Darjeeling. “No nasties in my soil” he declared, and his comments instantly resonated with her. She had been very concerned at the many “extra” ingredients in food, even baby food, full of E’s and sweeteners. Urging him to tell people about his vision of clean tea cultivation, he replied “YOU tell people if you feel so strongly about it”.
The challenge was too good to resist and she launched into the world of tea growing (a huge change from being the strategic consultant!), and organised for the estate to be certified organic Then came the big leap – biodynamic status for Makaibari – a first for tea estates. Biodynamic farming simply ensures that you put more in than you take out, and that animals, plants, people and soil all work together to create a forever living environment. Yet no tea estate had ever thought about going biodynamic before. So she packed 5 chests of Darjeeling leaf tea into paper bags in her kitchen and took them to shops, individuals and cafes around London. There was a bit of an uproar from some - “250gms of leaf tea...no one drinks leaf tea these days”. But others made space for the handfilled packs and a year later Hampstead Tea was awarded best in category at the Organic Food Awards, for the Darjeeling Whole Leaf Tea and it was presented by HRH Prince Charles.
Hampstead Tea ALWAYS looks for the purity of the source whether it is tea, camomile, ginger or even tea bag paper. 2014 saw the Hampstead Moonlight Silver Tips – India’s most expensive tea – perfect evidence that if you stick with putting more in than you take out, exceptional results will follow.
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