Sustainable Monsoon Tea

Shii Hua & Pete

I recently met this lovely couple, Shii Hua and Pete, at a tea gathering and was intrigued by their tea business story. They currently run Tea Bunnies, which is the exclusive distributor for Monsoon Tea in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Monsoon Tea carries Thai tea from wild and free-grown tea plants in Chiang Mai. This traditional non-invasive cultivation method has been carried out by Thai tea farmers for generations. As such, Monsoon teas are free from herbicides and pesticides. Best if I let Shii Hua fill you in from here 🙂

Hi Shii Hua, can you tell us more about Tea Bunnies?
Tea Bunnies Pte Ltd was set up in January 2017 by a group of like-minded individuals who are passionate about teas and the sustainability towards our environment and local communities.  We are the exclusive distributor for Monsoon Tea in Singapore and Hong Kong and I am the General Manager for Tea Bunnies.

How did you discover wild tea in Northern Thailand?
In 2011, Pete and I left the corporate life and spent about five years as full-time volunteers for a NGO based in Chiang Mai Thailand, coaching and providing education to underprivileged children.  As many of the children are from Northern Thailand, we spent much time in the northern region.  During this time, we met Kenneth Rimdahl who is the founder of Monsoon Tea in Chiang Mai. Besides being a tea connoisseur, Kenneth is just as passionate about protecting the environment via sustainable tea farming methods.  He shared with us about the many free-grown and wild tea trees in the forests of Northern Thailand.

Free grown Miang plantation

Why did you want to get involved with Monsoon Tea?
In the recent years, climate change has brought about much impact not only to our lifestyle but also the biodiversity.  We love nature and animals, and we feel strongly that we should help to protect our environment.  Monsoon Tea’s concept of sustainability extends beyond responsible farming and protecting the forests, but also empowering the minority tribes in Northern Thailand to maintain their traditional lifestyle.  We feel strongly that we can make a positive impact to both the environment and community by adopting sustainability as our purpose for the tea business.

As such, we decided to set up Tea Bunnies to distribute quality teas from growers who are equally committed to creating sustainable communities with minimal impact to the environment.

What is Monsoon Tea’s process for sourcing, producing and packaging the tea?
Monsoon Tea source our teas from tea farmers who have age-old Miang plantations or access to wild tea trees and shared knowledge to the farmers to produce good tasting teas. As the exclusive distributor for Monsoon Tea in Singapore, we also sourced extensively for biodegradable packaging which have minimal impact to the environment.

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How does Monsoon Tea stand out from other local tea brands in Singapore?
While sustainable teas are not new to the Singapore market, free-grown and wild teas harvested from the forests are rare and few.  Our key motto “Growing in Harmony with Nature” illustrates our sustainability concept in protecting our forests against deforestation, protecting natural wildlife habitat and preserving our biodiversity.  As such, our teas are natural and free from pesticides.

 What have you learned about the tea business?
The tea market in Singapore is saturated and very competitive.  Given the fact that some of our teas are available only on a seasonal and limited basis, it has been hard to manage the inventory.  Many consumers in Singapore are also more accustomed to drinking teas from China and Japan, and are unfamiliar with teas from the forest of Northern Thailand.  There is a lot of education and awareness on sustainable teas to be done.

Why is sustainable tea meaningful to you?
Monsoon Tea’s concept of sustainability extends beyond responsible farming and protecting the forests but also empowering the minority tribes in Northern Thailand to maintain their traditional lifestyle.  We feel strongly that we can make a positive impact to both the environment and community by adopting sustainability as our purpose for the tea business.

Cultures should be preserved, without losing the traditions, especially in a time where technology is so advanced and people are beginning to abandon old traditions.  This way, it helps the local communities to preserve their traditions while also generating income and transmitting tea farming skills.

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Where can we find Monsoon teas in Singapore?
You can buy our teas from our online shop 

Our Jungle Oolong is also available at Sun Ray Café.

Look out for updates and events on our FB page

What is your favourite Monsoon Tea and why?
Jungle Oolong. This wild tea is picked only once per year and produces only up to 100kg a year.  It is a special tea with an interesting fruity taste and a lingering sweet honey note.

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Images courtesy of Tea Bunnies

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Delightful Tea with Miss Tea Delight (and a sort-of catch-up)

 

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I got to meet another tea blog friend in real life – one of my earliest  and most active commenters (while I was still writing somewhat regularly), Miss Tea Delight this week! One of the first things she asked me was, “Why aren’t you writing on your blog anymore?” and I could only hang my head in shame.

Yes, it’s been a while. In a nutshell, here’s what’s been happening with me tea-wise: I’ve been tea shopping (right now, I’m in love with this 30-year aged oolong from Hojo Tea – it’s my ultimate comfort drink), I’ve been receiving some fantastic tea samples from 1872 Clipper Tea and TeaVivre (their 2014 spring offerings) which I definitely intend to review at some point, I mostly drink tea when I’m feeling antsy, but I also like socialising with tea – I somehow think people become a little more open in some ways.

I will not make any more declarations about how committed I will be to this blog. But I do love you blog, for connecting me in such wonderful ways with other tea-loving folk (and to some great teas as well)!

Top Tea Moments of 2013

Oh my! Yet another year is coming to an end. I am drinking Longjing tea right now while trying to come up with a sum-up post of sorts. I am also trying to come up with some healthy new-year resolutions involving tea. But in the meantime, here are my favourite moments with tea this year:

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My first cup of tea in Taipei.
I was terribly groggy. I’d just gone bookshop shopping at Eslite. I sat down in this little basement stall of a shopping mall where a guy very carefully brewed a mug of Shan Lin Xi oolong using thermometers, measuring cups and ceramic teaware. And I sipped it very slowly while browsing through my new books.

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Tea grazing.
One of my most relaxing 2013 afternoons with casual tea tasting with the ladies of Pekoe & Imp. If you don’t already know by now, Imp is pretty slick in tea brewing and uses both cheem algebra and mystical “leaf coaxing” to come up with some lovely teas.

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Using my most expensive teaware for the first time.
I bought a Hakka Blue Pear Pot Set as a Christmas present for myself after attending the Tea Time in Taiwan fair. I’m not sure if it was psychological, but I thought I came up with a pretty exquisite brew of Tieguanyin and my non-tea husband also felt very happy drinking from this very pretty tea set.

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Pomelo tea at Cafe Pal.
It was a rainy day and this was the perfect pulpy tangy hot drink after some awesome Thai food and catching up with an old friend.

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Iced lychee oolong at Tea Bone Zen Mind.
It was a scorching hot afternoon. I always buy several bags of of lychee oolong back after every visit!

Timmy the Tenacious Teabag

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Copyright: Sheryl Khor

I’ve written an illustrated e-book of short stories called “Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us“. Essentially, it’s a collection of stories about stationery items, grocery produce, and assorted animals learning valuable lessons about life. (Yes, really.) Of course, it was necessary for me to throw a teabag into this mix – and so here you have Timmy the Tenacious Teabag.

I think my idea for this character came about from this line that’s attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”

Well, obviously, I take issue with this quote. For one, I prefer loose leaf tea. Also, why must a tea bag be female? And yes, for certain types of tea, the water cannot be too hot or the tea will just be burnt and bitter.

So of course, for my teabag – I made him male. And also, he doesn’t have a very happy ending. But let me not give away too much. If you’re interested in buying the e-book, it’s available on Kobo, Lybrary and ReaderStore. There’s also a Facebook Page.