4 Estonians and a Lithuanian who farm tea in Georgia
15 January, 2019
4 Estonians and a Lithuanian who farm tea in Georgia
What comes to your mind when you hear Georgia? Lots of things: wine first of all, cuisine, nature and mountains covered with snow all year, tourism, but what about tea? Tea is not something Georgians usually offer to visitors.

But recently, a group of 5 Estonians have decided to come to Georgia and start their own business here. Around 30 years ago, during Soviet Union, Georgia was known for its tea plantations. Georgian tea used to be exported to other Soviet
countries.

Renegade Tea Estate – this is how the Estonians called their business and now export Georgian tea to other countries, even in Malaysia and Singapore.

So what made them to make this bold step and start business in Georgia. Georgian Journal found out more.

What made you to start business in Georgia?

Though most of us had visited Georgia before and really liked it as a tourist, we didn’t have a specific dream to start a business exactly in Georgia. One thing leads to another and we kind of stumbled upon the abandoned tea plantations of Georgia. Seeing those bushy, abandoned tea fields scattered around on the beautiful hills of western Georgia and the dwindling small towns, which are slowly emptying due to the lack of employment and prospects, really moved us and gave us the strong impulse and motivation to do something about it. We see a true mission and greater good in helping to revive the Georgian tea industry. We found out that there is a government program called Georgian Tea and largely thanks to the help of this program we managed to get started.
geotv.ge

We also believe, that we can bring something different and unique to the global tea scene.

The tea industry is dominated by middlemen and big corporations. There is more tea produced in the world than is consumed and there are hundreds of companies branding and selling it. Yet it is hard to find even a handful of true next-door tea farmers who are growing, making and selling their high quality natural products under their own brand names. There is a general lack of authenticity as the profits are reaped by middlemen and distributors, leaving the farmers and producers in the shadows. Therefore, our goal is to be the most transparent tea company with the most personal customer experience, from planting the new seedlings until sending you a box of our teas.

Our own values and goals. There are three main things about business that we all share in our team — we don’t like politics and corporate games, we have always wanted to challenge the status quo and we share a passion for really good, authentic customer experiences. Therefore, quitting our office jobs in the Baltics and starting a small tea estate in Georgia felt like a pretty good match with our personal goals and ambitions.

In which region do you have plantations for tea?

Our plantations are located in Imereti region, in Mandikori, Opurchkheti and Gumati.

Do you package the product here in Georgia?

Yes, all of the production is done in Georgia, including packaging. Though, we then send all the teas to Estonia and send to customers from there. We send the teas from Estonia so customers in the European Union wouldn’t have to deal with customs declarations themselves, so the ordering process would be as easy as possible.

In 2018 our amounts were very little, but this year we also plan to have our tea available in Georgia.

Do you export this product abroad and if yes, in which countries?

Yes, we mainly export, our main target is Europe and North America. This year we have had customers for example from countries like USA, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary and even Singapore and Malaysia.
geotv.ge

Does Georgian tea has some special features or is it distinguished from other types of tea?

Georgian tea is much more softer and sweeter in taste, it also usually has some citrus and fruity notes in it. In our opinion this is a great advantage because nowadays people prefer sweeter teas, where they wouldn’t have to add anything extra like milk or sugar. We are especially excited to introduce the sweet and silky Georgian black teas to people who only know the very strong and bitter black teas from India or Africa and therefore dislike black tea.

Our plantations, like most of Georgian plantations, have a mixture of different cultivars which is quite rare in the rest of the world. This is a challenge in the production, but we see it as a positive challenge, since it also gives some unique taste notes to the tea.

As foreigners doing business in Georgia, what do you like / dislike in this country?

We have had quite a positive year in Georgia, people have been welcoming and paperwork is quite simple and straightforward. Communication with the government institutions has been a really positive surprise. Also, we are really grateful that the local people have welcomed us positively and do want to revive the abandoned tea plantations together with us. Without the support of local communities we wouldn’t be able to do it.

On the negative side, the situation with nature is something that makes us sad – mainly because of two things. Firstly, the amount of plastic bags that is used in the shops and the amount of garbage lying around everywhere, on the sides of the roads, on the fields etc. Secondly, the general attitude towards sustainability. For example, it is really sad to see in the villages near our plantations, how some people are taking advantage of the lack of rules in the stone mining area. Beautiful mountains are destroyed to zero and some villages are now located on a flat land, in a middle of a sand desert. We are afraid that this could happen also just next to our plantations, because it seems that the complaints from local people against the mining is like voices in the desert that no one hear.

We would really like to see Georgia to take a more nature-friendly attitude.

How many of you are in this business?

At the moment there are 5 of us as partners.

Do you plan to enlarge your business in Georgia?

We do hope to increase the number of partners and we will definitely have a lot more workers in the upcoming years, since this year we got harvest only from one plantation. Business wise we do not plan to become a large corporation and take more and more plantations. We have ca 50 ha altogether and we believe that this is more than enough for us, we focus on the quality of the tea and the authentic relationships with our customers.

In additon:

-We also cooperate with nearby small-scale tea farmers - one of our goals is to help them to also find an output for their tea fields. We buy leaves from them and then produce them in our factory. We also exchange our experiences – they share their traditional knowledge how tea has been made in Georgia and we share newer techniques from different parts from the world.

-The first year has been a very interesting one. We learned a lot, had many setbacks and also many wins, but by the end of the summer, our plantations started to look like real tea plantations in some parts and we managed to make tea in our factory. Of course, the amounts in 2018 were very little, but we have sold out almost everything by now and have got really positive feedback. People are really interested in Georgian tea, because this is something they haven’t heard about before and they have liked also the teas from our first year, so we are excited to start already with the next season!
geotv.ge

Related stories:



Print
Other Stories
Hotel Porta Caucasia Kazbegi-Discover What Is Yours
Discover what is yours - Travel to Georgia - This is the main call of the year of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, which advises all residents of Georgia to travel, get to know and discover their own country, once again to make sure that Georgia is truly distinguished by its sights, nature, history and with the diversity of touristic destinations.
“Together for Better Environment” - EU and MEPA Mark World Environment Day
On June 5, 2020, the EU marks World Environment Day within the framework of the Green Week information campaign, held in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, the EU Delegation to Georgia states.
"Qvevri" Shaped Hotel Complex in Georgia Soon
Today the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, inspected the construction of the hotel "Qvevri" in Telavi, which is implemented with the support of the state program- Host in Georgia.
Georgians buy abandoned houses amid coronavirus pandemic
Lekso Charkviani is a founder of a social campaign called “The Lost Eden”. The idea behind the campaign is to search, find, and help the owners sell their houses in any place in Georgia.
Breathtaking Pictures of Snowy Spring in Georgia
On March 17 Georgia was surprized with snow and the social media was full of breathtaking photos of snowy Georgia taken by Georgian photographers
The History of Georgian Firearms Development
In the 9th century, a dent was invented in China that was originally used for fireworks during religious ceremonies. Its use in military affairs began relatively late in the 11th century
Estonian Traveler  About Georgia
Anna Linn is a traveler from Estonia who has recently visited Georgia and shared her experiences with us.
How to Make Women Happy on March 8th - The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi's Best Offer
Women's Day is celebrated around the world but for some reason, it is mostly loved in Georgia
Tbilisi in The List of The Best Cities For Female Solo Travelers
Tourlane, the leading planning and booking service for expert-made dream vacations, has revealed the top cities for female solo travelers
10 Magnificent Churches of Georgia
"John Graham Tours" Publishes the list of 10 magnificent churches of Georgia, specifically of Shida Kartli
Georgia in the list of Hollywood's busiest location sectors
The Hollywood Reporter publishes the list of the busiest location sectors of 2020 and Georgia is number one in the list
Why Georgia is the Most Underrated Skiing Destination
CNN publishes an article writing about why Georgia is the most underrated skiing destination
Tbilisi Takes Third Place in The Category of Cost-Effectivness-FDI
Famous British edition FDI Intelligence which provides up to date reviews of investment and economic development in different European cities and regions has published a ranking of 2020/21
CNN Offers 10 Of The Most Dreamiest Places in Georgia
Without a doubt, CNN's famous travel series will give you the most truthful advice on which you can count on
Radisson Collection Tsinandali Complex Among the 45 Best Hotels
The hotel located in the village Tsinandali was named among the 45 best hotels in Paris
Letter From Thailand To Georgians
“Coming to Georgia wasn’t an accident”
"There was a "ME" before Georgia and another one after."-Foreigners about Georgia
"We've never seen people describing their country with as much passion and excitement as you two are doing it. What a great thing to do!"
British edition about Kvareli's football pitch
The British edition, The Sun Dream Team, published a photo of the pitch located in Kvareli
Tbilisi winning Rynair's Instagram voting as the best 2020 destination
"We just crowned Tbilisi as Ryanair’s 2020 destination face-off winner in our Stories"
The Real History of Tbilisi
Little do people know about the real history of Georgia's capital city Tbilisi.
"Georgians will extend their arm for a friendly handshake"-Ryanair
The Irish budget airline Ryanair publishes an article about the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi. The title says it all- "The Enchanting City of Tbilisi."
The Transcaucasian Trail in Georgia
The Transcaucasian Trail- a world-class, long-distance hiking trail, more than 3,000km in length following the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains and connecting roughly two dozen national parks and protected areas in the region.
"Home for the homeless"-BBC about Tskaltubo sanatoriums
BBC publishes a documentary about Tskaltubo's sanatoriums located in the West part of Georgia.
Georgia reaches a record number of visitors
In January 2020, a record number of international travelers visited Georgia.
Abastumani resort brought to life
The observatory renovations are completed in Abastumani resort, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure reports.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
12.07.2020
13.07.2020
USD
1
USD
3.0624
3.0624
EUR
1
EUR
3.4593
3.4593
GBP
1
GBP
3.8617
3.8617
RUB
100
RUB
4.3016
4.3016