Small Tea Growers Demand For Their Rights On International Tea Day 2016

While 5000 tea workers assemble at Raja Bhat Tea Estate in Kalchini district of West Bengal today 15.12.2016 to observe the 11th International Tea Day, we at Rangsaa stand with all the Small Tea Growers (STG)  in India and Center for Education and Communication (CEC) to bring forward the problems and demands of small tea growers across India. This is our attempt to contribute to the well-being of the people behind our cups of tea and highlight their issues to all our readers and the world. Next cup of tea you take, think of tea plantation workers, their condition and their rights. Together we can make a difference.

The petition, which highlights the demands of small tea growers of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, is signed today and submitted to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. Following is the memorandum submitted.

Small Grower Statement

We, the representatives of following Primary Producer Societies or collectives of small tea growers in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are celebrating December 15, the international tea day with increased sense of self worth.

We are proud to be the producers of Tea, a health drink. India is the second largest producer of this health drink in the world. We, the small farmers, though having on an average less than 2 acres of land, are proud to contribute 33.85% in 2015-16 of tea produced in India. That this is a recent phenomenon could be gauged from the fact that in 1999 small growers’ contribution was only 1.16% of the total production. In 2015-16, of the total production of 1233.14 million kgs of tea, small sector contributed 417.42 million kgs based on an aggregation of tea manufactured by 568 bought leaf factories. Our contribution to the total tea production in India must be higher if our supply to estate factories are also considered.

Small farmer’s production is almost twice the quantity of tea exported by India. During the financial year 2015-16 India exported 232.92 million kgs valued at Rs. 4493.10 crore. We are feeling proud of the fact that we contribute not only to meet the growing domestic demand for tea in India but also to obtain valuable foreign exchange.

Small sector contributes to employment generation in the rural areas, uplifting hundreds of thousands of people from poverty and it prevents distress migration. Tea cultivation is respectful self-employment for thousands of young people, and in all tea growing areas; and it also absorbs as workers a large number of unemployed from the large tea estates.

For small growers, land is not a commodity, but a source of life and livelihood, integral to our existence. Overcoming compulsions from chemical and fertiliser companies, increasing number of farmers are following responsible agricultural practices, moving towards chemical free and organic agriculture.

We want Central and State governments to recognise our contribution to the nation, its economy, ecology and to the people of India and of the World.

  1. We strongly urge the Government of India to ensure that we get a fair price for our produce by
    a. strong and participatory enforcement of Price Sharing formula
    b. ensuring better price for better quality of leaf supplied
    c. making available certified organic manure and pesticides

  2. We urge the Government of India not to delay the declared subsidies to small growers including leaf collection shed, leaf weighing machine, leaf carrying bag, pruning machine, plucking machine, irrigation equipments and computer.

  3. We urge the Government of India to extend crop insurance scheme to all small growers without any delay.

  4.  We urge the Government of India to implement universal social security and health coverage for the workers working in our gardens.

  5. We urge the Government of India to encourage collectives of small growers having 100 acres of land, quality leaves, and compliance to Plant Protection Code to set up factories to manufacture chemical free / organic green specialty tea and facilitate their marketing ventures by
    a. easing steps to set up such units, especially, approvals for land, building and machinery
    b. easing steps to obtain other necessary permits and licences including electricity, pollution, sales tax etc
    c. ensuring easy access to credit from NABARD, SFAC and other public as well as private financial institutions
    d. extending financial assistance as is available for big factories

On the occasion of 11th International Tea Day, we stand united with self-respect for responsible, sustainable and remunerative tea cultivation and assure everyone quality tea.

Name of the Person Signing, Name of the PPS, Name of the District

10 Reasons Why You Must Stop Drinking Fizzy Drinks

aerartedartificaldrinksblog-1Who doesn’t love sipping on fizzy, carbonated drinks on occasions ranging from going out with friends or being plain bored at home? However, for all their easy charm, aerated drinks are not all that harmless. Last year, scientists claimed fizzy drinks cause thousands of deaths every year. Not the first time they have come under the scanner, artificial drinks often contain sugar, harmful chemicals and minimal nutritional value. While they still enjoy a wide appeal, we have been warned against their potential harms on numerous occasions.

It is time to switch over to nutritious and natural options from aerated drinks. Let us look at some reasons to quit your fizzy drinking habit:

1. Increased risk of diabetes – The high amount of sugar in artificial drinks skyrockets the blood sugar and causes an insulin reaction in the body. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. Between 1990 and 2000, an increase in the consumption of fizzy drinks led to a whopping 130,000 new diabetes cases.

2. Can lead to heart disease – There exists a strong link between heart disease and the consumption of foods with added sugars. Sipping on fizzy drinks can dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Not just this, the artificial sweeteners used in diet beverages are established neurotoxins that are responsible for several behavioral and cognitive problems.

3. Increases risk of cancer – The synthetic chemicals used in the coloring of soft drinks are believed to be carcinogenic and have subsequently been banned in many countries. In addition, diet sodas have artificial sweeteners that are documented carcinogens. Aerated drinks can lead to various kinds of cancer such as prostate cancer in men, breast cancer in women and pancreatic cancer.

4. Obesity – It is no secret that soft drinks have zero nutritional value and make us fat. When you drink fizzy drinks, you confuse your body into thinking it is sugar intake. When it figures out the truth, you instantly develop a craving for the sugar you missed out on! Moreover, sweet sensations promote insulin release, blocking your body’s ability to burn fat.

5. Damages dental health – The high acidity in artificial drinks causes plaque to build up on the teeth and can lead to cavities and gum disease. Long-term consumption of colored drinks causes the same harmful effect.

6. Premature ageing – The phosphates used in artificially sweetened drinks have been found to speed ageing. This doesn’t just mean more wrinkles on your face, but several health complications as well.

7. Dehydration – Because of the high sugar, sodium and caffeine content in artificial drinks, they dehydrate the body and over a long period of time can cause chronic dehydration.

8. Alters your brain – Besides affecting the body, aerated drinks are also found to change the protein levels in the brain, leading to hyperactivity.

9. Can cause early puberty – Consuming sugary drinks every day can lead to incidences of teenage girls hitting their period earlier, consequently increasing their risk of cancer.

10. Taxes your organs – Your heart, liver, brain, digestive tract and kidney work in-sync for optimum functioning of the body. Artifical aerated drinks trigger your organs to react as if they are in a dangerous situation and cause imbalance, which puts your body under a lot of stress. This is very harmful to your health in the long run.

So, the next time you are looking for an energy boost, think about alternative ways before you buy energy drinks. Switch to tea and explore it’s vast flavors and taste options. Find the ones you like. It’s all about going natural, respecting your body and pumping it with nature’s power. Explore Rangsaa blends and kickstart your healthy lifestyle today.

RECIPE – Rangsaa Insignia Tea Infused Oatmeal Cookies

recipe-tea-rangsaa-insignia-cookieFind a fancy cookie jar for these sweet, crunchy, spicy oatmeal cookies made with whole-wheat flour. The use of tea-infused butter as an element makes them unique and adds flavors that will surprise your palate. It’s a quick recipe and yields about 15 cookies.

KEY INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup wheat flour
3 tsp Rangsaa Insignia
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup pistachios
1 cup butter
1 egg

PROCEDURE
Start by making your rangsaa infused butter. Heat the butter in a saucepan. Once liquid, add the tea and let it infuse in the butter on low heat for about 5 mins. Then cover the saucepan and let the mixture sit for 20 mins.

While your butter is getting ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix all the other ingredients and add clear butter. To separate the butter in the saucepan, pour the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the tea and then keep it aside. A quick tip here is that you can store the butter fried tea and use it later to flavor your rice. Tastes delicious!

Mix all the ingredients well until your cookie dough is well blended. Using two teaspoon dough per cookie, roll into balls, pressing gently on top. Place them on baking sheet about 1 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20 mins until nicely brown. Once ready, serve fresh from the oven!

TEA PAIRING
Rangsaa Detox

Why Wine Lovers Make Awesome Tea Addicts

tea-talk-11A not-so-well-known fact about tea is that it has more diverse sensory wheel than wine. Wine and tea lovers, alike, would agree that the two drinks are about flavor and taste. The common element of subtlety unites the two. Wine lovers have learned about wine by paying close attention to the physical experience of taste and aromas. People who love wine are often sensual beings, operating on a feeling rather than thinking level. They crave touch, smell, taste and the finer things in life, not very different from tea lovers. No wonder wine lovers make the best tea connoisseurs too and here’s why:

1. A time travel machine – Good wine does this wonderful thing to you – it transports you back to the time and place it was made in. This is a quality of wine even the beginners find easy to catch up to since the regional differences in the production of wine brim to the surface before anything else. The same is the case with tea, whose agricultural environment is revealed in its properties. There are still some teas that are created such that all hints of the origin vanish. For wine drinkers, this is how you can tell an average tea from a great one.

2. Myriad of flavours and aromas – If you have a cup of high altitude tippy green tea, it will taste nothing like wine! However, there are several compounds found in tea that are identical in aroma and flavour to those in wine. Only a seasoned drinker will be able to spot this similarity. A sensitive palate is what makes wine and tea drinkers much like each other. When you learn the art of tasting the subtle notes, you improve both your ability to identify good quality tea and to taste in general.

3. Savoring it – Wine lovers know the art of savouring, the act of taking it slow and enjoying what stands right before you. And this is exactly how you enjoy tea. Taking a break from the humdrum life and enjoying a meal, some fine wine and good company.

4. Always more to know – While tea may look like a simple thing to learn, it’s vast in both breadth and depth. Tea lovers know learning all there is to learn about tea is an uphill task. Much as a glass of wine, each cup of tea is an opportunity to expose yourself and engage with a rich cultural history and tradition. Wine and tea both carry within themselves a bit of the earth’s geology. For those who have a deep love of learning, nothing better than a lesson in tea.

5. Love for variety – Variety is truly the spice of life. Both wine and tea stay true to the adage with the huge number of options they present. You could easily try a bottle of wine a day and a cup of tea a day and you would still be left with a vastly uncharted territory.

6. Appreciating the little things in life – Celebrating the moment comes naturally to wine and tea lovers. Nothing better than spending a lovely evening with friends and family over a nice pot of tea. Tea-time is a way to cherish the little things in life, something to hold on to. Wine and tea lovers don’t need a lot to make them happy. They can turn an ordinary evening into a memorable one. It’s a very happy way to live!

At Rangsaa, we believe in the power of rich tea with rich experiences. So calling out to all wine lovers, who we are sure would love our teas! Indulge in the exquisiteness of Rangsaa blends and surround yourself with all things good.

PEOPLE TEA – My Way of Tea by John Bickel

people-tea-1-1I’ll discuss a bit about how I brew tea, after an introduction. My name is John Bickel, and I’m American, but I live in Thailand now, for the last nine years. Exposure to different tea traditions led me to an unusual level of interest in tea. I write a blog about the subject (Tea in the Ancient World), and help run a Facebook tea group (International Tea Talk). There’s a lot one might say about tea, about types, how to brew, health benefits or concerns, ceremonial aspects, storage, and about gear, but I’ll focus on brewing.

There are two main categories of brewing approaches, although there are others. Masala chai, spiced teas, are typically simmered over a long period of time, but this isn’t one of those two main methods, not commonly practiced in places like China, Japan, and Taiwan, or in Western countries. Gongfu cha (literally “tea technique”) and Western brewing are the main approaches. Both relate to varying proportion of tea to water and adjusting infusion time related to that. I use both, depending on the tea, and what I feel like drinking, and how much free time I have. This blog post goes into how to cut the process as short as possible, how to brew loose tea with a fast breakfast.

Gongfu cha is the approach favored by tea enthusiasts. A relatively high proportion of tea to water (eg. five grams of tea for 100 ml of water) is steeped for a short time, using a gaiwan (a cup with a lid) or small clay pot. This approach can brew the same leaves ten or more times, for as little as a few seconds or as long as a minute, depending on the tea and personal preferences. Some types of tea turn out much better made this way, for example Dan Cong oolongs or sheng pu’er (compressed tea, more or less designed to benefit from aging). One benefit is that astringency can be limited by the short infusion times. Using many infusions also allows for experiencing the transition of tea characteristics; the aspects will change across infusions. The main trade-off is the time required.

The brewing process used most is generally referred to as “Western style.” This uses one teaspoon of tea per each cup of water (roughly) in a larger teapot for a few minutes time (3-5). The leaves might be brewed a second or third time depending on different factors. With the proportion of the tea to water as the main difference tea could be brewed Western style in a large gaiwan, or by a process much closer to Gongfu style in an English-style porcelain teapot, or by either in a French Press. One main advantage is ease and convenience. One or many cups of tea can be prepared in five minutes or less, the brewing time, using minimal gear. Any variation needs to control the main brewing inputs to get the most out of teas: temperature, proportion, and infusion time.

I’ll mention a few other factors here. The basics aren’t so hard to master, but a review of some other good sources would spell those out in short order.

Temperature: Hot water is fine for black tea, although some people advocate not using full boiling point temperature. Green tea works better brewed slightly cooler, in the range of 75 C and 170 F (although recommendations do vary), with oolong in the middle.

Gear: Beyond using a gaiwan / clay pot and English-style porcelain pot for the two approaches many other alternatives would still be fine. Specialized brewing equipment—similar to a coffee maker—with timers and water heating function is at one extreme, an infuser basket that goes in a mug is at the other.

Tea quality: There is a divide between CTC (commercial processed tea) and orthodox tea (more hand-made) that is hard to summarize. In the most general terms ground up tea is not as good as whole-leaf processed tea, but quality varies for different reasons. Regional tea sources are another main factor; tea varies according to both how it is made and where it is grown.

Good luck with your own exploration of nicer loose teas.

Teatox – How To Drink Tea For A Healthier You

teatoxify-1While detoxing may be the new health trend, traditional detox diets propound the use of a liquid-based diet alone. However, liquid diets are not only grossly inept at sustaining our bodies throughout the day, they are also just vaguely successful at the actual detoxifying. Thus, they fail to adequately address the need to purify the system on a daily basis.

We give you a simple and adaptable solution. Kick start your way to a healthier lifestyle with tea detox, or as it’s popularly known, Teatox. Teatox works on the principle of adding a few cups of tea blends and herbal infusions to your existing diet. Detoxing with tea is emerging as a more effective form of detox since it doesn’t involve making any changes to your daily diet.

So, how do you start your teatox plan? Detoxing your body with tea consists of drinking 4-6 cups of tea every day. From morning cup of tea on awakening to a cuppa before the bed, drinking tea all day is a lifestyle change that is easily adaptable. We suggest you six time periods in a day for an ideal tea break – morning tea, breakfast tea, noon tea, post-lunch tea, evening tea and post-dinner tea. Nutritionists say that drinking tea can boost your detox system if you choose the right variety of tea. If you happen to be a tea lover, include more cups of herbal blends throughout the day. If you have the caffeine sensitivity, you can include tisanes/pure herbal infusions in your diet.

Tea’s health benefits are documented to be wide-ranging; from lowering the risk of heart disease to increasing mental performance, tea comes equipped with fighting diseases and promoting a healthier body. However, tea alone isn’t enough for a detox but is made effective by drawing on the power of herbal infusions and blends to serve the purpose. High quality teas are excellent at supporting the natural detoxification process of the body. Even basic green and black teas are so rich in antioxidants that they are adept at supporting the cleansing process of the body. Antioxidants are known to reduce oxidative stress in the body, thus helping prevent inflammation and other chronic diseases.

Going green is good not just with your vegetables but also with your tea — the greener the better. So try to pick tea brands that are natural and as clean as tea should be. Believe in teatox. Follow this routine for 7, 14, or 28 days at a time and see the benefits that are presented to you.

Remember that, like any other detox, it’s vital you change up your food plans too. To reap the true benefits of your teatox diet, stay away from processed and fried foods and make more space for raw food, whole grains, veggies, fruits and lean protein in your diet. If your diet is gentle on your body and clean, detox teas will enhance your natural purification function and lead to a healthier you.

7 Ways To Enhance Your Tea Experience

tea-talk-8Charles Dickens once said, “If you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head, I should better understand your affairs”. Wise words from a tea lover, indeed. Tea improves your mood and enhances creativity, the sublime effect created by a combination of elements associated with the tea experience, including aspects of tea preparation, an indulgence in the taste and aroma during consumption and simply acting as a refreshing break from other activities. Tea is known to bring peace and relaxation to one’s mind, thus helping achieve the elusive ‘zen’. The many wonderful proprieties and peculiarities of tea can lead you to experience the zen you are looking for and sip in a whole new tea affair.

A complete tea experience comes with several nuts and bolts that must all come together to create a synthesis as heady as a luxuriant blend. To deepen your understanding of tea, we would like to introduce you to 7 different ways of enhancing your everyday tea experience:

1. Nothing else matters – When you drink your daily cup of tea, focus only on the tea and forget the constant worries, meetings, projects, and deadlines to be met. Push daily life to the back of your mind, to be retrieved once the session is done. The state of mind when you pause and transcend beyond trivialities and annoyances, away from the everyday mundanity and hustle, is the true way to enjoy tea.

2. A tranquil and elegant space – A clutter-free, pleasant and elegant drinking space fosters positive sentiments, heightening the pleasure of drinking tea. Go for a tastefully decorated room to liven up an empty space, creating a solemn and respectful atmosphere for tea preparation and drinking. Light incense sticks or a candle, it’s all up to you to decorate your personal tea space.

3. Appreciating tea – Experiencing tea is not just about drinking but rather about carefully tasting it. Examine and judge your tea’s flavor, color, aroma and texture. Allow the tea to unfold it’s inner workings and dormant flavors to you. When you are clear about the ‘Way of tea’, you will be able to judge tea quality and value.

4. The art of teaware – Tea masters and scholars have on several occasions emphasised, and we concur, that refined and exquisite teaware enhances the enjoyment of drinking tea. Whether you love your traditional tea bowl or your stylish glass teapot, proper and elegant teaware can make a significant difference in your overall tea experience.

5. Intimate understanding – Tea drinking is an accurate representation of the oneness of man, nature and spirit. Get intimate with your tea, connect with it and dive into the process mindfully. You can thus hone your skill, understand the natural forces behind the process and increase your appreciation for tea to the molecular level.

6. In-sync with nature – Nature is integral to the enjoyment of tea. The placement of stones, an arrangement of potted plants and use of natural materials such as a wooden table, bamboo stools, earthenware – all add to accentuating your tea experience as a creation of nature.

7. Good company – Like wine, tea takes you on its own, unique journey. Drinking tea in the company of advanced tea drinkers who appreciate the aesthetics of tea, have a keen understanding of the finer things in life and value tea, can lead to an enriching tea experience and enhance the beauty of the whole exercise.

Enrich your everyday tea drinking experience with these simple ways and watch your tea take on new flavors, forms, colors and meanings.