• 20 February 2024

  • Suppliers

Tea Promoters India and Organic Herb Trading

A partnership based on shared values and respect

"…having a partnership with the likes of Organic Herb Trading, there’s not only a conversation that’s had between two organisations, but a conversation that’s based on equal power relations, and a great sense of respect and deep understanding of each other’s context” Gautam Mohan, Managing Director of Tea Promoters India

All that we achieve is only possible through partnerships. Our profound understanding of this has been nurtured over the decades by travelling to source and stepping foot on the land and into the lives of the communities on whom we rely.

At the end of last year, our Global Supplier Manager, Matt, travelled to India along with Head of Sales & Business Development, Mike, to visit one of our long-standing partners, Tea Promotors India (TPI). TPI are pioneering organic tea growers who promote sustainable tea cultivation through organic, biodynamic and Fairtrade practices in gardens across the tea producing regions of India. TPI have been supplying Organic Herb Trading with green and black tea from their Putharjhora garden in Dooars and Chardwar in Assam for several years. Consistently impressed with the quality of their tea and the integrity, transparency, and ethical drive of the business, we journeyed to India to deepen our knowledge and understanding, and to see their incredible social programmes in action, in Dooars, Darjeeling and Assam.

Mike Bond and Matt Richards of Organic Herb Trading at the Putharjhora Tea Garden, India

On Matt’s first visit to Putharjhora in 2017, he was inspired, to put it simply, by how TPI were doing things differently. Their social impact, how they treated their workers, the work in tea garden communities, and their deep sense of ecological responsibility left a profound impression. (Read about Matt’s first visit here)  

TPI are FLO Fairtrade pioneers who helped shape the standards that we know today and were the first tea producer in India to achieve the certification. Visiting them in India meant we were able to see first-hand how Fairtrade premiums we pay, positively impact tea growing communities: Amongst other things, TPI have installed solar powered streetlights in villages; instigated a pioneering safe sanitation programme; built medical facilities, creches, nurseries and children's play areas; and bought bicycles for tea pluckers to provide independent travel.


Above: Creche at the Chardwar Tea Garden

Below: Female tea garden worker with bicycle 

Passionately organic, TPI are innovating with their farming methods — with detailed programmes for encouraging biodiversity, managing pests, tea bush health and soil fertility, always with tea quality and yield in mind. Three of their gardens are certified biodynamic and plans are in place for others to follow.

TPI nurtures gender equality and internalises environmental understanding and social care as standard. Not only does TPI celebrate the women that work with them, but it gives them a voice through membership of the Fairtrade committees and by empowering them to attend conferences as representatives of the business. They also offer roles to women that are typically held by men in the tea cultivation industry in India .  Matt and Mike’s experience on their most recent visit only further exposed us to how socially and environmentally responsible and progressive TPI truly are.

Above: Female garden Assistant Manager Sabu, far right

It is important to us to meet our partners around the world, not only to visit the farms and ensure that our ecological, agricultural, and social standards are being met, but to deepen our understanding of how they operate, what matters to them, and how we can help them to implement initiatives that better the lives of their community, the health of the land, and the quality of the product — all of which are intrinsically connected. By meeting the individuals that work in the tea gardens, we experience first-hand how their lives and ambitions are enriched and supported by their employer and by us via our customers. TPI’s commitment to organic practices and their recognition of the community’s involvement in the success of their tea gardens reflects their belief in interconnectedness and is a testament to their ethos, consciousness, and determination. By empowering the community, with resources, education, and ownership — through smallholder farmer models — TPI challenges traditional top-down structures and embodies commitment, care, and quality.

We are incredibly proud of our partnership with TPI. Building upon shared values and trust, we work together to achieve the same thing. This foundation gives our partnership longevity, versatility and vision, planting roots for us to collaboratively continue to nurture and enrich all the lives intertwined with TPI tea for many years to come.

Our customers are the next part of the story that similarly make all that we do possible. As the tea travels onwards, by sharing what we have learnt we aspire to connect you — to the people, the place, and the product.  So, whenever you buy TPI’s teas from us, you too can be proud of all the care imbued in its journey from tea garden to you.

Above: Tea plucker at the Putharjhora Tea Garden, India