Giving Back to the Source

Helping Qianjiazhai's tea benefit its own local community

November 28, 2016

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Tea should benefit
the community that grows it.

This winter, all sales of Qianjiazhai pu’er and black tea support the Zhenyuan Jiujia Wengangcun Primary School.

25% of proceeds will be donated to assist with purchasing new books and supporting the operation of the sleep-away elementary school where Mr. Deng and his family work as faculty and as part of the Zhenyuan Dongsa cooperative.

 

We got into tea because of the people who grow it. We are constantly inspired by the dedication, kindness and creativity we see in all of our partners in China. This holiday season we want to take a moment to call out one cooperative in particular: the Qianjiazhai Zhenyuan Dongsa Farmer’s Cooperative.

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This cooperative is a loose knit association led by Master Zhou to empower people living so remotely that most of the farmers don’t even have access to roads or consistent electricity. Despite hardship, families living in the mountains of Qianjiazhai like the Wang Family, the Li Family and the Deng Family wild-pick some of the best pu’er in the world. They don’t have fancy branding like a big workshop or a multi-million dollar ad campaign like Jingmai. Their tea is a hidden gem, and a true expression of nature.

 

We are so grateful for their work, that we do everything we can to help spread the word about the work being done in Qianjiazhai, and of course, support the farmers with prices they set to help them grow and invest in equipment. But this season is about giving, about connecting with those that we care about. We wanted to go further to help kickstart this region.

Master Zhou and Master Deng gave us the idea to raise funds for the most important lifeline of the community: the live-in primary school in Wengang Village.

Sun drying spring maocha in an elementary school courtyard in Qianjiazhai

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Farmers walk their children to school on Monday, and because it is so far for the students, most of them live at school and attend intensive classes through Wednesday, going home on Thursday. This school is stretched for resources, and isolated from the province level administration. It is sustained through help from successful farmers like Master Deng, whose workshop is right next to the school.

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Master Deng donates his profits to the school because he remembers walking to school every day and having to sell walnuts by the side of the road to raise enough money for textbooks, paper and pencils. He sacrificed everything just to get through enough school to learn to read, and found success from his hard work. Master Zhou remembers how difficult it is to succeed in school and how few students get a chance to ever go beyond primary school, so he teaches full time on top of farming and leading the cooperative. He teaches middle school students, helping them not only learn to read and write, but also become the people they want to be – even helping them learn about finishing and picking tea.

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Before pioneers like Master Deng and Master Zhou, most of the mountainside was sustained foraging walnuts and selling them in Zhenyuan. Now the wild tea trees are picked and responsibly managed for a better future for everyone in the Qianjiazhai Jiujia region.

 

 

Their commitment to the tea growing community has inspired us to donate 25% of proceeds raised selling the Cooperative’s tea to help enrich the Wengang Village Primary School.

All Qianjiazhai tea sales through the holiday season of 2016 (while supplies last) will go towards our fundraiser for the Wengang School. The money raised will be used to supply textbooks and school supplies to students whose families can’t afford the expense. If we raise enough, our ultimate goal is to help the school be able to contract a van driver to pick up students closer to their homes and take them to school to cut down the many hour trek, and potentially extend the school week. We want to help give the students in Qianjiazhai the chance to get the same quality of education that students in the provincial seat of Zhenyuan enjoy. This possibility would give students an equal opportunity to gain admission to local colleges, and hopefully over time kickstart a generation of young adults coming back to Qianjiazhai with degrees in wherever their interests lie to help the region succeed.

We are excited to launch this fundraiser and make sure that tea truly benefits the communities that grow it.

Thank you for your support of our mission, and for your support of the incredible farmers behind the tea.

 

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