Kind of Tea
Michael D. Ham is the Co-Founder of Wild Orchard Regenerative Teas.
Regenerative organic agriculture is a holistic approach that prioritizes soil health. It is the cornerstone of Wild Orchard teas because this kind of farming results in a tea with elevated taste and nutrition, which also addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time – climate change.
The Health Aspect
Studies show important nutrients in our food have decreased by as much as 38% since the 1950s. In the same time frame, chronic disease rates have increased massively. Many people, including myself, have lost loved ones because of these issues.
Many of these chronic diseases are linked to the modern diet of modified crops and processed foods. Enter regenerative farming: increasingly more research points towards a link between soil health and the nutrient density of food. Not only that, but regenerative organic farming also prohibits the use of harmful chemical fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. This means when you drink tea, you are only drinking tea, not a cocktail of chemicals.
The Environmental Aspect
The data shows we are running out of time to save the planet we all share. But regenerative farming aims to regenerate land already damaged and reduce excessive CO2 emissions caused by such practices. Actually, studies show that a switch to regenerative farming could help sequester more than 100% of our current annual CO2 emissions.
Wild Orchard teas have not only been farmed regeneratively since 1999, they are also the world’s very first Regenerative Organic Certified™ teas. I’ll explain more about what exactly our farm does. We are really proud and honored to be the first in tea to achieve this prestigious certification, especially because we can give tea drinkers the confidence that they are getting a truly regenerative tea.
We’ve also used software models to calculate the carbon of our teas from farming, processing and even transportation. We found an estimated 380kg of CO2 being sequestered per kg of tea produced, which is really special.
Wild Orchard was founded by a group of friends in New York who believe that time is our most precious resource and that we must do everything possible to address our global climate and health crisis.
We discovered a true gem of a farm on the subtropical volcanic island of Jeju, off the southern coast of South Korea. There, the story begins in 1999, when our farmers planted the first seeds to grow tea bushes from scratch. This allows for superior nutrient absorption, resulting in stronger, healthier plants, and, ultimately, a healthier tea.
For over two decades, the tea bushes were encouraged to grow surrounded by the island’s native plants, insects and animals in an environment that was kept as ‘wild’ as possible. The results were lush tea trees with uniquely deep roots that further enriched the soil and attracted even more abundant wildlife.
Today, over twenty years later, they continue to grow in this thriving ecosystem, thanks to a small but tireless team of innovative farmers with a sincere love of the land. The older farmers who made it what it is today continue to work closely with the younger farmers. They guide them with their experience and wisdom as they carry on the hard-earned tradition of growing some of the world’s best teas. Everything that is done on the farm is founded on a basic understanding of our health and quality of life in connection to nature.
Supporting Regenerative Farmers
All of our teas come from directly from the farm to the tea drinker through us. This way people can see how exactly their tea was cultivated and how it was processed. This kind of transparency is often lacking in many industries, especially tea. People have no idea where their food comes from, whether their tea is a blend of teas from various farms – and thus what the quality of the tea is.
By regularly sharing information about our farmers, our farm and farming practices on social media, tea drinkers can know exactly what they are getting.
Regenerative farmers are the unsung heroes of our generation. Agriculture is the key to tip the balance from bad food and environmental damage to nutritious food and environmental regeneration. This is why supporting regenerative farmers is so important.
We want to empower the entire supply chain: the farm and the consumer. As validated by the inspections for Regenerative Organic Certified™, all our farmers are paid a living wage. They are treated fairly and enjoy the benefit of thorough worker protections.
So our goal is to help bring regenerative agriculture mainstream, and to empower the average consumer to access transparency in a way they know and trust will positively impact their health and the future of our planet.
Old New Traditions
Tea is an established superfood with a rich history. Today, we are honored to be working together towards enabling people everywhere to nourish themselves and the earth through the simple and wholesome act of drinking tea—a centuries old practice that naturally heals and brings people together.
So join us for a cup of truly good tea, knowing that you’re literally changing your health and the health of the planet for the better.
The Brand’s Journey
Our teas have won 12 awards in international tea competitions, which is the perfect recognition for all the hard work our farmers do in growing and processing the tea.
Wild Orchard was selected by the world-renowned Noma– a three-star Michelin restaurant and five-time winner of the World’s Best Restaurant Award and have added several other Michelin rated restaurants as partners since.
As with all growing companies, there are still many hurdles for us to overcome, and the pandemic has made every step of the way harder. But we believe in our teas and will keep working to make them available to people everywhere.
We currently offer loose leaf teas and matcha powders, but have a lot of exciting products in the pipeline:
- Full leaf tea bags in environmentally friendly packaging, for the average busy person who needs the convenience
- Upcycled flakes – these are made from the tea leaves that are brewed, which would normally get discarded
- Ice cream, candy and cosmetics made from tea leaves or tea seeds