Small Tea Farmers in Sri Lanka

One of the highlights of the tea expo for me was meeting the consulate general of Sri Lanka to the US, Asoka Godawita. His pride for his country and the hardworking tea farmers there overwhelmed me. Sri Lanka’s tumultuous past has made it difficult to travel there for the reason of buying tea. The insurgency ended in May of 2009 and since then, we have seen a wealth of information and good tea flow out of Ceylon. Asoka was able to connect me with many small tea farmers in Sri Lanka that I have been speaking with for the past three months. We hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to sample some of the June harvest and eventually support some of these farmers. This is the goal – this is why I do what I do, I want to support small farmers in tea producing regions, the kind of small farmer that grows 10kg of tea in his/her back yard. Many large tea importing companies because of the demand for their tea can only purchase container loads of tea — huge shipping containers that hold thousands and thousands of pounds of tea. I have no problem buying 5-10kg of tea direct from a farmer, the care, the hand-processing, and the quality all are increased when dealing in such small amounts. When it sells out, it sells out — and we must wait until next year, but I fell a lot better supporting these hard-working people than I do a tea factory that acts as a middle man.