Background on Kanoka Assam
Kanoka Estate is a small (6-acre) family owned farm committed to sustainable organic farming methods. Their beautifully handcrafted, all natural, whole leaf orthodox TGFOP Assam tea is laden with golden tips. When I received this exceptional tea I was struck by the subtle floral aroma blended with cacao and a hint of pipe tobacco. This tea produces a more flavorful and full-bodied brew that has more depth and complexity than other Assam teas. The dark amber colored liquor has an underlying honey sweetness with notes of molasses, roses and grapefruit.The addition of milk and sugar accentuates the characteristic malty flavor of Assam, however, to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of this superb tea it should be drunk without milk.
Kanoka Tea Estate is a small family owned and operated tea farm in central Assam, India. Brothers Pallabjyoti and Pranabjyoti Nath, together with Pranabjyoti's wife, Manmoyuri who run the six acre estate are committed to using only Vrikshayurveda organic farming methods. Vrikshayurveda is the ancient Indian science of plant life compiled by Surapala over 1,000 years ago. Originally written in Sanscrit it was translated to English in 1996 with a Hindi translation coming out in 2003. Vriksayurveda focuses on the health and life-cycle of the plant as well as the soil. It uses (among other natural remedies) an all-natural fertilizer cum natural pesticide called Kunapa Jal, described by Surapala as being made from fish and animal waste. This ancient method of growing the tea preserves the healthful natural phyto-nutrients in the tea leaves, and at the same time eliminates exposure to the dangerous chemical pesticides used in conventional commercial farming in Assam. Because the Nath Family is the first to cultivate the land at Kanoka Tea Estate, no pesticides or chemicals have ever been used on the land or on their tea plants. The entire production process at Kanoka Estate is carried out manually from seed to the finished product in an effort to supply their customers with the healthiest Assam tea on the market. The Kanoka Tea Estate received its organic certification in 2017 OneCert Asia in accordance with India's National program for organic production (NPOP) standards.
Kanoka Tea Estate is a founding member of Assamica Agro, a local cooperative that promotes sustainability in tea and social equality among tea workers. The Assamica Agro tea company is revolutionizing the way tea is grown in Assam, and they have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments. In addition to their strict adherence to organic regulations and certifications, they source all of their tea from small tea growers of northeast India--such as Kanoka Estate--who similarly utilize Vrikshayurveda farming techniques. Assamica Agro is committed to enhancing the livelihood and improving living conditions of tea workers by helping the small tea farms to hire workers at a good wage and sourcing their tea at a fair price. In turn, they offer a percentage of the buying price of the teas separately to these farms to help them increase the wages for their hired workers. Their ethical policy is slowly building the local economy as well as boosting morale.Tea occurs naturally in Assam and commercial production commenced in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam in 1833. The average altitude of the area is approximately 240 feet above sea level, and it is known for its tropical, monsoon rainforest climate with hot humid summers and cold winters which contributes to the rich, malty flavor of Assam tea. While the China jat does not grow here the native assamica variety thrives in the rich clay soil of the Brahmaputra valley. Most of the tea produced in the region is CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) processed. CTC, a method invented specifically for the black tea industry in an effort to save time and money, is used to produce low grade teas and those used primarily in tea bags.
Although Indian law requires that tea estates pay their workers at least the minimum wage and provide and maintain adequate housing, sanitation and safe working conditions, a recent investigation by the BBC has revealed the exact opposite on many of the major tea plantations in Assam. Many are without electricity and potable drinking water. Housing is in a terrible state of disrepair with leaking roofs and unlined and clogged drains and in some cases, cesspits are overflowing into the living areas of people's homes. The average tea worker in Assam earns 115 rupees (approximately US$1.50) a day. The combination of squalid living conditions and low pay can be deadly. Malnutrition among tea workers is rampant. According to the medical director of Assam Medical College, nine out of ten patients from the tea estates in Assam suffer from malnutrition, making them vulnerable to diseases caused by their unhygienic living conditions.
Throughout history tea has played a pivotal role in politics both within and between countries. It has been a catalyst for revolution. Assamica Agro is waging its own silent revolution against the injustices within the tea industry in Assam. Because of their adherence to social equality, they no longer need to exploit workers or use unethical practices to grow tea and make a profit. We commend them for their efforts.