Disclaimer: this post is NOT sponsored nor I am affiliated in any way to Rare Tea Company or Rare Charity. It was my own initiative to participate and fundraise for this Back to School campaign by Rare Charity.
I only ask for a few minutes of your time to read this post… once you do, please consider donating to this wonderful cause.
Malawi Antlers White Tea
It wasn’t that long ago that I heard about Malawi Antlers White Tea for the first time. All I knew is that I had to try it… and it was divine!
It is such a special tea, it has a deep gold/light amber color, a woody, nutty and peachy aroma, a beautifully smooth texture, and a light body. It is a very delicate tea, sweet, slightly woody with notes of apricot/peach but a floral character too. It has a lingering aftertaste that makes you crave more! I brew it Western-style, 2-3 gms per 150-200 ml at 190 F for 2 minutes. I usually get 2 more infusions where I extended the steeping time in a minute each.
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This tea is made at Satemwa Estate, in Malawi from antlers – the velvety stems of finely plucked shoots. Only a few kilos are produced each year, extra special!
When I saw that Rare Tea Company carried it, I knew I needed to have it! Not having spent time on their website before, I kept looking at the range they offer and I was blown away by the wonderful teas they carry. So many special teas! I spent a while looking at their website and I read something that caught my attention:
“If there were more people (like you) who bought tea like wine, for the best flavour instead of the lowest price, tea farms might thrive like vineyards. The whole industry would change.”
I know how much poverty there is within the tea industry… many workers are exploited and live in precarious conditions. Some communities around tea gardens have minimal access to health and most wages are extremely low, and although they might be legal minimum wages, they are well below the level needed to meet a household’s basic needs.
I also know that there are several companies who want to lead a change in this and are taking action by giving back to the tea workers and their community in the form of education for their children, health, empowering women with jobs, etc.
For mass-market consumption, the tea supply chain can be quite long, having various points of marking up the prices along the way. Big tea companies face pressures to lower prices and this often translates in paying less for tea, thus burdening the farmers.
Some specialty companies want to fight against this by buying directly from the tea gardens and avoiding middlemen. This way gardens can charge higher (and fair) prices for their tea.
If every tea drinker takes more interest in the brand they’re buying and consuming from, and demands to know what steps they are taking to address low wages on tea gardens, along with other social and environmental issues, and communicates their expectations of a ‘living wage’ for workers, we could have a larger impact together.
Rare Charity’s Mission
When founder Henrietta Lovell visited Satemwa Estate, she asked the workers what they needed most, and their unanimous answer was “education for our children”.
Rare Tea Company currently donates a percentage of its annual revenue and fundraises in parallel through Rare Charity for this cause.
Photo credit: Rare Charity
Their aim is to give ambitious young people the agency to uplift themselves, their households, and their community. Education enables and empowers these young people to return to their community as qualified professionals, if they wish to, and implement long-term social change.
In Henrietta’s own words, “we focus on individual students because we believe that it is through their education and agency that wider social change within their community will be achieved. We are creating local role models who can encourage their peers to develop skills and change their own and their community’s future. We advocate gender equality- At least half of our tertiary scholarships are set aside for female students”.
I fell in love with Rare Tea Company when I took some time to learn about it. It has one of the most amazing and unique offerings I’ve seen, and I loved that they created a charity to help out people from one of the same farms they’re buying their tea from because they know them, they’ve been there and they’ve seen with their own eyes what’s going on.
I had the opportunity to talk with the charity’s Managing Director who told me more about the mission, their challenges, and some students’ success stories.
One of the things that got me to fully commit to the cause was knowing that about 46% of girls marry before the age of 18 in Malawi – even before the COVID-19 lockdown (according to Unicef’s reports). This happens because many families live with the minimum wage and suffer from hunger, so they have to marry their daughters in order to get a dowry (or lobola) and relieve some financial pressure on their households.
Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriages and COVID-19 has exacerbated the already-fragile situation. Schools provide more than just education: they offer meals, a support network, and a way out of early marriage.
Rare Charity aims to give ambitious young people the chance to uplift themselves, their households, and their communities by empowering them through education. Currently, they are focusing on girls to finish their education which will empower them to make social change in their own ways and on their own terms.
My Personal Fundraising Goal
I created a Paypal money pool with a personal goal of $2,000 USD, which will cover the full 4 years of a girl’s secondary education: boarding fees (that includes teaching, accommodation, and 3 meals per day), private healthcare, uniforms, groceries, sanitary allowance, and regular safeguarding checks.
I would love to be able to, with the help of all of you tea drinkers, friends, and supporters, transfer the full amount of $2,000 (or more!) to Rare Charity and sponsor a vulnerable girl through secondary education.
If you prefer to donate to them directly or become a monthly patron for this cause, please do so too. Any vehicle helps!
Osman Karimu is one of the first sponsored scholars of the charity. He graduated from his Bachelor’s in Food Technology in May 2019 and decided to return to Satewma Tea Estate, where he then worked in a Managerial position. He regularly visits high schools to motivate students to finish their education and to make them aware of the Rare Charity scholarship program.
Photo credit: Rare Charity
Wongani Jambo graduated with credit from a BA in Communication and Cultural Studies from Chancellor College in October 2019. She is already a role model in her community, encouraging her fellow young women to continue their education. It is thanks to Wongani’s mentorship and encouragement that so many women were determined to begin tertiary education in 2019.
Photo credit: Rare Charity
Thanks for your time and once again,
please consider donating. Anything and everything helps!
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