On a beautiful spring evening in early May, Dr. Jane Goodall joined Rishi Tea and friends at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago to celebrate the launch of our new Masala Chai Concentrate and partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute.
A message of hope
It was a tremendous honor to act as the MC for the evening and to introduce Dr. Goodall. For nearly 45 minutes she shared her incredible life story, passion for animals and the environment, and the importance of instilling hope and understanding — in children, in particular.
As a primatologist who performed groundbreaking research on chimpanzees, an ethologist, anthropologist, U.N. Messenger of Peace, and recipient of multiple international awards and numerous honorary doctorate degrees, Dr. Goodall has taught and inspired hundreds of thousands of people and communities around the world.
As a company that has been working directly with farmers at origin for the last 13 years, importing organic and Fair Trade Certified teas, it is an unbelievable validation of our efforts, beliefs, and hopes to partner with the Jane Goodall Institute.
Supporting Roots & Shoots Youth Program
Dr. Goodall elaborated on the significance of our collaboration:
There are places all around the planet where the air that children breathe and the food that they eat and the water that they drink is making them sick. And how much longer can we go on beleaguering Mother Earth before she finds it impossible to heal the harms that we’ve inflicted? We haven’t reached that point yet.
So it’s really important that we get together to prevent that happening. That’s what led to our Roots & Shoots program. And that’s the area where Rishi Tea is really keen to cooperate with us, and us with them.
Every purchase of our Masala Chai supports the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots, its global, environmental, and humanitarian youth program for young people from preschool to college. Our Masala Chai, after all, is made of roots and shoots, from the tea shoots to the ginger roots, so there could not be a more fitting name for the program that we have chosen to support.
Kids with a cause
Dr. Goodall went on to explain,
Roots & Shoots, with its message that each one of us makes a difference every day, young people understand so well. Young people know. And Roots & Shoots began with 12 high school students in Tanzania, and it’s now in 120 countries around the world.
And every group — from preschool all the way through university, with more and more adult groups wanting to join in — every group is choosing three different kinds of projects to make the world better: one to help people, one to help animals, one to help the environment we all share.
And a theme of: let’s learn to live in peace and harmony between people of different countries and nations and cultures and religions and between us and the natural world.
Fair trade from start to finish
That theme is exactly why our partnership with JGI makes so much sense. It is the same reason we are committed to not just buying ingredients for our teas, but truly making a difference at origin. Our Masala Chai, made with all certified organic ingredients, is also made with Fair Trade Certified black tea harvested in the ancient tree forests of Mannong Manmai, in Yunnan, China — the birthplace of tea.
Mannong Manmai is a place where tea trees grow in a biodiverse, subtropical ecosystem. Descended from seed stock that arrived there more than 1,500 years ago, these heirloom tea trees receive bountiful nutrients from the soil without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
It’s a perfectly symbiotic relationship that has refined itself over the course of many centuries; the trees get precisely what they need and the soil never becomes overtaxed. For us, that means better tasting tea with more health benefits, and for Mother Earth, healthier soil with cleaner air and water.
Improving tea-growing communities
Although Mannong Manmai villages are rich in ancient tea culture and traditions, they are also underdeveloped and poor. Many villagers go without education and health care services. That’s why Fair Trade is so important to the communities we work in and to the farmers we work with.
Fair Trade Certified projects guarantee fair prices for products and offer an additional fund known as a “social premium.” The social premium is invested directly back into the communities of the workers through educational, social, and cultural development. The Mannong Manmai Ancient Tea Association has used funds generated by the sales of our Fair Trade Certified teas to establish environmental and social initiatives, from clean water distribution and better educational opportunities to improved transportation.
Making a difference — globally
Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, coined the term “virtuous globalization.” Our new Masala Chai is the perfect example of what he means. This is a truly global product that is making a significant difference around the world. And the fact that we have the tremendous honor and opportunity to partner together with Jane Goodall is a dream come true.
Dr. Goodall said it best in the closing of her inspiring talk. “The main message? Every individual makes a difference every day. We cannot live through a day without impacting the world around us, and we have a choice.”
As for Rishi Tea, we have made the choice to partner with quite possibly the most authentic and gracious woman on the planet and we could not be more excited about our collaboration or the work that we are beginning together.