Asian tea growers of the non-profit International Tea Farms Alliance (ITFA) this week launched the Global Tea Tasters Club providing farm-direct deliveries of tea to paid members worldwide.
Memberships cost $250 and include six shipments of at least 150 g of tea from Alliance farms throughout Asia. Deliveries begin this month from Japanese tea farms. Taiwanese farms are featured in October and Indonesian tea growers in December.
“In addition to the tea leaves, members of the club will receive information about the tea farmers themselves as well as about the tea that is included with each shipment,” according to Yasuharu “Matsu” Matsumoto. He writes that ITFA will also work with farmers to provide short video greetings on its website available only for GTT Club members. “GTT Club members who are not already registered members on ITFA will be automatically registered to the website,” says Matsumoto.
Funds raised will be used by ITFA to translate information about farmers (including farmer blogs) as well as educate farmers about consumer markets around the world.
“The aim of this effort is to bring tea lovers closer to the farmers by sending them samples of the tea leaves, and to bring farmers closer to tea lovers by providing market insight into consumer markets in different cultures and regions,” says Matsumoto.
The Alliance was announced at the June World Tea Expo by Akihiro “Akky” Kita and Matsumoto at Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations, with support from tea farmers in Japan, Indonesia, India, Hawaii, and Korea. The primary objective is to bring producers (tea farmers) and consumers (tea lovers) closer together utilizing web technologies as well as in-person events, trade shows, and conferences.
“By increasing awareness of each other, the ITFA seeks to simultaneously support consumers by increasing transparency in the tea industry and enhance the value for tea farmers and their tea products,” says Matsumoto.
The organization also seeks to raise interregional communication between tea farmers and is planning a tea farmers’ conference in Kyoto, Japan, in March 2012.
To learn more about the ITFA and ITFA farms, and to sign up for the tasting club visit www.teafarms.org.