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Meet the Growers: Yvonne Ochieng of Leafberri

Meet the Growers: Yvonne Ochieng of Leafberri

In today’s modern world, it’s common for us to buy a product and not really understand the entire story of how it was made. Unfortunately, for some products, those products were made using unethical and/or unsustainable production practices.

That’s why we created Cured Leaves Tea: To develop a line of sustainably-farmed teas that are ethically produced. And one of the greatest pleasures we get from creating unique tea blends is working with our African growers.

Because purchasing our teas helps support women growers in Africa, we thought it’d be a good idea to introduce you to them, to share a bit about their story, so that you can gain a better understanding of where our teas come from and who they support.

Without further ado, then, meet Yvonne Ocheing of Leafberri.

How did you get into tea growing?

I am a 4th generation tea producer from the Aberdares mountains in central  Kenya. My great grandfather was introduced to tea growing by British missionaries in the 1900s. We have been growing tea since. 


What types of tea do you grow?

We grow both purple and green tea bushes, from where we get black, green and white tea. Both are in the camellia sinensis family. 


What are some sustainable practices your company uses?

We use a variety of methods to ensure sustainability. All our tea is handpicked, with no heavy machinery used in picking the tea. 

We plant shade trees on the tea plantation that improves leaf quality, while also helping us to reduce water consumption. We plant Napier grass after every few rows to avoid soil erosion, which is used to feed the farm animals and provide soil mulch when it’s cut. We also retain tea pruning in the plantation to provide mulch and compost. 

We use organic fertilizers following manufacturer recommendations.

Finally, we use rotational tea pruning and soil conservation techniques by cutting down section of the tea bushes to regenerate soil nutrients by planting cover crops like maize and beans. These are left to grow for a couple of years until the land is ready for tea farming, and then we’ll slash the land cover crops and use them for mulch and fodder. 

We’re also excited to share that our tea processing factory just received organic certification for using organic farming methods of the tea itself and tea processing (drying, packaging, storing and roasting).


How is your tea ethically produced?

We have a direct tea farmer partnership, meaning we don’t use any brokers or middlemen when buying tea. So the tea farmers are ensured fair market wages which translates to better pricing that promotes sustainable farming. 

We also provide education to our tea growers on the importance of sustainable tea farming practices. This allows them to have a better understanding of the importance of implementing the different sustainable farming practices they learn that will promote higher crop yield and it’s good for the environment.


What’s your favorite tea?

The Aberdares Black Gold tea is my favorite tea. 

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