Life in mountain is picturesque, serene and pristine. Everything about it is nature.
The southern hills of Manipur is a mountain economy which hinges on mostly natural infrastructure. Economic activities are still rudimentary. Jhooming or shifting cultivation is the staple economic source apart from some wood lumbering, forest produce and small scale mountain farms.
Nature holds limitation, Nature doesn’t accommodate infinite. After centuries of harnessing and harvesting Mother Nature, the mountain soil in this region began to wane, the green horizon is quickly giving way to grey mountains. Economic sustenance is diminishing by the day, climatic conditions are losing its shine.
This was the precursor which instigate the thought of this concept called “FOREST PICK”.
Tea trees are spread across these mountain ranges from time immemorial (before the British). Even today, there are lots and lots of mountain surface where tea grows naturally in the wild. Despite the jhooming practice, the mountain still holds thousands and thousands of tea trees across various villages. Tea has been growing wild in this region for centuries. Nobody really knows how and where did it come from, but it is certain that these tea tress are older than most of the villages.
Tea is locally processed and brew in a typical and peculiar smoky style, but this particular tea culture and process is very limited and doesn’t spread out. It never became part of the mainstream economy. Today, people still buy CTC Tea even in these mountain villages even though it house abundant tea plants. The locally processed tea are seldom used because they are meant for the granpas and granmas. Nobody ever tried to commercialize in any form for reasons unknown.
As we began to explore and dig a bit deeper, we realize that it is much more than just an economic sustenance. It is an opportunity, the ancient tea trees are something which is far superior to those available in tea plantations in many parts of the world. It can be produced as a premium and top notch teas of the world. Wild teas which are pre World Wars are something precious and something exclusive which is rare and distinguished.
That’s how the first step to our long tea route began.
Forest Pick is a product start-up which deals in naturally growing wild tea. Our tea plants are grown in the wild mountains of Southern Manipur for over centuries like the wild teas of Yunnan Province in China. Our tea plants are fully grown trees with deeper root system, which absorb and retain higher nutrients from the mountain soil, giving a unique & complex flavor and aroma. Unlike estate tea plants, which are pruned to be short bushes and chemically treated with fertilizers and pesticides, our tea plants are devoid of any chemical interventions. They are nurtured by the natural eco-system of the forest mountain. Also, our teas are carefully handcrafted by hill artisans and made available to you in the most NATURAL & SPECIAL way.
Natives in the Southern Hills of Manipur have been brewing teas since time immemorial. Tea is called “THING PI” in the native dialect, which literally translates “GRAND TREE”. Tea is an integral part of their day-to-day lives. A day rarely starts without a cup of tea. It is used as a post meal cleanser, it is used as a gup-shup accompaniments, its a pre requisite in any social gatherings. It is basically used in every slice of life moments. A black metal kettle with steeped tea leaves is a usual sight in the cockpit of every single household. TEA is believed to give a lot of health benefits for everyone. The tradition of tea drinking has been carried forward for many generations though it has never been commercialized.
What is Wild Tea?
Wild teas are made from tea trees (camellia Sinensis ) which are grown wild in the forest. Unlike conventional tea estate or cultivated tea bushes, wild teas are ungroomed and unfurnished by any commercial activity. The plants are not owned or managed by any commercial entity. They grow much bigger and taller, production is much lesser, picking is much more difficult because of the terrain & tree size and most WILD TEA are hand crafted.
Why Wild Tea?
Wild teas have many advantage over commercialized tea both for HEALTH REASONS and for forest ECO – SYSTEM.
Superior Health Benefits
These are teas which have never seen any form of chemicals inputs. They are grown in the wild, far away from the hustling and bustling economic activities of mankind. Because they are older trees and unpruned, it is believed that their deeper root system takes better nutrients and minerals from the earth.
They are more COMPLEX
Wild tea grows in a heterogeneous forest ecosystem among various species of wild flowers, herbs and trees. They mixed and get infused in this wild collage of different plant species, which gives more complexity in their aromas and flavors.
Unlike commercialized Tea, wild teas are mostly hand processed by Native Artisans in their village hamlet. They are produced in little of wild green leaves. Natural withering, Hand rolled, Sundried, Manual Sorting and Manual packing. These are teas which can be as natural as it get, they are MORE THAN ORGANIC.
They help make the earth greener because they grow much bigger than the commercialized tea bushes. They give shelter for many fauna & floras in the forest, they also takes active part in the bio-diversity process of the forest.
Economic cause of the Natives
The economic activities of the native artisans are mostly wood lumbering, jhooming cultivation or forest produce, which is unreliable and heavily subjected to the vagaries of Mother Nature. Every penny paid on this wild teas trickle back to the economy of this native artisans.