With funding through Kickstarter, Young Mountain Tea, founded by Raj Vable and Keith Pennington is developing commercial tea production in the Kumaon Region of northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas with Nepal. The British first planted tea here in the 1820s, but abandoned the project because it was too difficult to get the tea from the mountains to the ports. The tea still grows wild across Kumaon 190 years later and there are now roads to connect to the rest of the country.
Young Mountain Tea is working with Rashmi Bharti of Avani, a local non-profit seeking to create sustainable tea farming here and to improve local family’s income. Young Mountain will produce an organic, delicately sweet White Peony tea from this spring’s crop. Other tea types will follow, starting with green. The aim is to have three villages on board by end of 2016 to create 400 jobs for more than 60 households and produce 2000 lbs. of tea annually. The company is partnering with Indi Khanna, tea grower and consultant who provided the seeds for the project. The tea is being grown organically, intercropped with plants for natural dyes used by local weavers supported by Avani to make scarves, shawls, jackets, etc.
When the project was launched on Kickstarter, the company raised $26,000 to achieve its goal and was the most popular out of 725 food projects.