Young Mountain Tea’s mission is to build a sustainable future for Himalayan farmers and their families through raising the quality of their tea, enabling them to earn more and improve the quality of their lives. The UnTours Foundation provided a flexible loan in fall of 2022 to help empower their next stage of growth.
The Young Mountain Tea’s Origin Story:
Young Mountain Tea founder Raj Vable’s work is fueled by a deep belief that vibrant rural communities are essential to building regenerative food systems. While working in the remote, picturesque Himalayan region of Kumaon, it became clear the Indian tea industry was ripe for reinvention. There was space for a new small-scale farmer model where farmers were the owners, and where quality was more important than quantity.
He founded Young Mountain Tea as a Fulbright Fellow and with a promise; if Himalayan farmers would grow tea, he would set up a company in the US to sell it. His goal is to unlock the potential of tea, the world’s most consumed beverage after water, to serve as a catalyst for sustainable livelihoods for Himalayan villages. Since then, the company has worked to rethink tea’s entire value chain, from launching a processing facility in partnership with a village of tea farmers, 90% of whom are women, to introducing transparency into tea’s supply chains, to building an American market for organic specialty tea. And to bring validity to Young Mountain Tea, they are certified fair trade, organic, and BRING Re-Think (a local certification.)
The most exciting moments in their work continue to be those around a cupping table. There is nothing more thrilling than bringing together rural Himalayan tea makers with international tea tasters, all working towards a common goal of a better tea that empowers more people. That goal continues to motivate and drive their work.
Raj’s life is so “steeped” in tea that he even met his wife, Mitra, thanks to the beverage. It was the night before the first Portland Tea Festival, and a number of tea houses across the city were having events to celebrate. They were attending the same one, at a tea house called T Project, and had a wonderful conversation. In the end, they exchanged business cards, although today they now admit that the business cards were just an excuse to be connected.
How Young Mountain Tea is Changing the World:
World change for Young Mountain Tea starts with change within the Himalayan region, which can then be replicated around the world. After noticing empty village after empty village, Raj learned the deserted towns were effects of urban migration – a problem shared by villages across the Himalayas. The region’s youth were fleeing to the cities in search of career opportunities, and the once-rich farmland was slowly becoming unstable, triggering landslides during the monsoons. With the birth of Young Mountain Tea, local farmers were once again interested in reviving abandoned tea gardens.
Regenerative agriculture holds tremendous potential for addressing food system change and climate change at the same time. By understanding plants as both the food we eat and the purifiers of the air we breathe, many of humanity’s imbalances can be addressed.
How you can Support Entrepreneur Raj and Young Mountain Tea:
The entire collection of Young Mountain Tea is available on their website. Scroll to the bottom of the site to sign up for their newsletter and receive a free pouch of their most popular black tea, Nepali Golden Black! Introduce Young Mountain Tea to your local grocery store to purchase locally. Share the brand with your tea drinking friends. You can find and follow Young Mountain Tea across all social media platforms, making it easy to stay current on new flavors and receive their promotions – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.