Unlocking tea's full potential to create vibrant mountain economies and regenerate local soils in the Himalayas of India and Nepal.
To do this, Young Mountain Tea is working with local farmers to build the Kumaon tea region in the Indian Himalayas and introducing its teas to international markets. We've partnered with the families leading Kumaon's tea revival to raise the quality of their teas, direct import the teas to the US, and build a market for these regionally-branded teas. One day, Kumaon will have the same global recognition as Darjeeling and be the first region to be built and owned by local communities.
History of Indian Tea
In the 1840s the British smuggled the tea plant from China to the Indian Himalayas. The first Indian tea region to gain global recognition was Darjeeling, which the British built without sharing any ownership or profits with local farmers.
Meanwhile, the plant thrived in Kumaon soils. However the region’s distance from a port prevented supply chains for being established. Eventually the Kumaon tea gardens were abandoned except for one, which was managed by a local Indian family named the Birkbecks.
Darjeeling is one of the most acclaimed tea producing regions in the world, however without any ownership stake in the estates, farmers are organizing strikes, and in some cases, leaving the industry entirely. A 2017 strike shut down Darjeeling’s entire production for half the season.
In Kumaon the absence of local jobs forces youth to migrate in search of work, leading to farms deteriorating into wasteland. To solve these problems the state government worked with the Birkbeck family to launch a tea program in the 90s. Four years ago, Young Mountain Tea began working with the Birkbecks to create a farmer-led model for tea.
The Kumaon region will one day serve as the shining example of tea’s ability to empower communities and combat climate change, not only for India but for all 800 million mountainous people being driven by urban migration and climate change.