Supplier Series: Genuine Tea
Here at Four All, we have 2 sugar-free flavours that we sweeten with local honey and maple syrup. And since honey and maple syrup are available and awesome all year round we will continue to shape our flavours around them, including our new honey flavour: Cream of Earl and Honey made with Genuine Tea's Cream of Earl tea.
Toronto-based, Genuine Tea, is a "farm to cup" tea company looking to change the tea industry game. Owners Sarah and Dave travel around the world meeting with farmers and directly buying quality teas to bring back and share in Canada. Sarah tells me how their journey started when they were living in Taiwan for five years:
"We saw what was happening in the North American Tea industry with the big players, David's Tea and Teavana, and knew we could offer better quality teas and a more authentic (hence the name) customer experience. We traveled extensively throughout Asia meeting with different tea farmers and learning as much as we could about tea harvesting and processing."
They returned to Canada in October of 2014 and launched their business, Genuine Tea, in May of 2015 to sell teas online and wholesale inside of other businesses:
"We started out by selling our tea at farmers' markets in various communities throughout Toronto and have since made our mark on the local indie coffee shop scene. You can now enjoy our teas in approximately 150 locations across Ontario and pride ourselves in partnering with like-minded businesses who share our values and quality standards. Some of our most recent partnerships include, Bridgehead Coffee in Ottawa, Planet Bean in Guelph and, of course, Four All Ice Cream!"
Though some of the farms they work with are certified Fair Trade, the mission of Genuine Tea is to go "beyond Fair Trade" by having personal relationships with small growers and plantations across Asia since these certifications can be very expensive and out of reach for smaller, family run plantations:
"We traveled extensively in Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka and Japan and have built lasting relationships with suppliers who practice ethical and sustainable business practices. Quality, sustainability and ethical practices are the main things we look for when deciding who to work with and what teas to bring in."
The process of finding and buying teas is an adventure for Sarah and Dave, encountering interesting stories to bring home as well:
"We recently returned from Japan and the opportunity to meet with some of the farmers' behind our Ceremonial Matcha Uji. Mr. Kono has been harvesting tea for 50 years and has won numerous awards for his exceptionally high quality teas. We discovered his secret was playing Mozart to his tea field the week before harvest! Sure enough, when we were touring the plantation we saw large speakers hooked up overlooking the field. He claims the music keeps the tea leaves happy and calm and produces the best quality tea around!"
Being small fish in a big pond doesn't discourage Genuine Tea; they hope to help the tea industry catch up with the wine, coffee, and craft beer industries by leading in the "third wave tea" movement:
"There's very little transparency in the tea industry. Most tea goes through the auction house model and is blended so it is very difficult to know exactly where the tea is coming from or how old it is. Large companies bid on huge quantities of tea driving the price down. Unfortunately, the people who lose out the most are the farmers. By practicing direct trade, we ensure our tea is fresh, offers a transparent supply chain and fair compensation for the farmers."
Building a force for change isn't hard since Sarah explains that she loves partnering with other passionate entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their respective communities:
"...and who doesn't love the sound of tea-infused ice cream?!? It's a "matcha" made in heaven!"
Our new Cream of Earl and Honey tea will be available at the tasting room next week Thursday & Friday (June 29th &30th).
You can learn more about Genuine Tea and check out their selection of teas on their Website. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what they're up to. You can look forward to a new Organic Turmeric Gold Tea that they are adding to their collection soon! It's a blend of organic turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper and makes incredible Turmeric Lattes.
*Images from Genuine Tea's sweet Instagram page!*