The Story Behind Our Full Leaf Black Tea | Equal Exchange

The Story Behind Our Full Leaf Black Tea

Leif Rawson-Ahern
April 14, 2016

We’re excited to introduce you to our new full leaf and herbal tea sachets in this three part blog series! Our new tea line is a celebration of our small-scale tea partners in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa, who are changing the tea industry and growing some incredible teas in the process. One of the exciting things about this new tea line is the mesh pyramid tea bag, which allows the premium tea leaves to unfurl and expand for the perfect steep. It’s a loose-leaf like tea drinking experience, with the convenience of a tea bag!  The first tea we’ll be exploring in this series is our full leaf black tea from the Potong Tea Garden in Darjeeling, India.

What is black tea?

Black tea is the most widely consumed tea in the world, and is grown throughout Asia and in parts of Africa. While both black tea and green tea come from the camellia sinensis plant, the leaves that become black tea are rolled and then oxidized before firing. The oxidation process gives black tea leaves a rich color ranging from red to dark brown and brings out some of the malty and bold flavors associated with black tea.

What does Equal Exchange’s full leaf black tea taste like?

Our full leaf black tea has a robust, creamy quality with notes of oak, molasses, spices, red fruit, and wildflower honey. We love how the pyramid tea bag allows the lush leaves to steep thoroughly, bringing out all of the nuances and flavor of this special tea.

Where does this black tea come from?

Our full leaf black tea comes from Potong Tea Garden in Darjeeling, India. Once a colonial plantation, the Potong Tea Garden is now collectively run by its workers. This revolutionary model has paved a stronger and more democratic path forward for the community, and if it is successful, it could help spark a badly needed transformation of the tea industry itself. Equal Exchange is proud to support these small farmers who are changing the industry from the ground up.

Why is there a leopard on the box?

The leopard on the black tea box is a tribute to the vibrant ecosystem the farmers of Potong have worked tirelessly to restore, rejuvenating the tea garden from its colonial past. First, the workers have rehabilitated the soil through introduction of micronutrients and biodynamic composting. Then, planting native and some non-native plants, including leguminous plants, grasses, and other green crops has helped bind the soil, reduce erosion, maintain moisture and manage pests naturally. They’ve also planted shaded trees to protect against extreme sun and planted banana trees as part of their efforts to revive natural water sources in the area. All of these conservation efforts have restored habitat for wildlife in the area, including leopards. The return of the leopards has been a joyful indication of the land’s hard-won return to health and balance.

What makes Equal Exchange tea special?

Equal Exchange tea is always small farmer-grown, which is revolutionary in an industry dominated by large plantations. We’re proud to partner with small-scale growers in India, South Africa and Sri Lanka to build this alternative supply chain. Learn more about our trade partnerships.  

We’re also proud to say that all of our teas are organic and biodynamic -- a health benefit to you, our tea partners, and the planet we share. Learn more about the benefits of organic tea

Where can I find it?

You can find our full line of teas online, or ask for it in your local grocery store or food co-op! Shop our full leaf and herbal tea sachets

Stay tuned for Part Two: Green Tea and Part Three: Rooibos!