The first time I visited Idulgashinna Bio Tea Garden in Sri Lanka’s misty, mountainous interior, I had just come off of a 10 day bike trip around the island from the sacred temples in the North to the balmy beaches in the South. Newly passionate about tea and Fair Trade, visiting Ceylon tea country and the world’s first organic and Fair Trade tea garden was the high point of my trip.
At the time, I was buying Idulgashinna’s tea for my then tea company, New Zealand- based Scarborough Fair. I was so enthralled that 11 years later, I am still buying their tea for Firepot’s Italian Grey and Firepot Breakfast. Having just made my 4th or so visit to the garden, it’s their biodynamic farming practices that get me every time.
Idulgashinna is not only naturally pristine and located in Uva, one of Sri Lanka’s high-quality, high-grown tea regions, but has, since 1999, adhered to all of the esoteric, mystical practices of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture. Burying quartz crystals and cow horns in the soil are trademarks of this kind of gardening. Idulgashinna also grows herbs like nettle, chamomile and dandelion for use in their compost tea that, with the addition of a lactating mare’s manure, egg shells and mineral rocks is added to the soil. Emphasis is on following the cycles of moon and stars, introducing beneficial bacteria to the soil and, above all, approaching the farm as a complete and holistic system.
Though we might not fully understand how all of this works, it is working. The tea plants at Idulgashinna are fat and healthy and full of vibrancy and flavor. I believe that this kind of tea, grown with love, let’s call it, is so much better for your body, mind and soul than mono-cropped, conventional and chemically farmed tea. Further, Idulgashinna plants their tea from seed, rather than from cuttings. Tea originating from seed jats (plants in tea talk) are known to have a higher vibration, to be a more pure expression of the tea plant than cuttings. Again, better for you.
In 2003, the garden received Fair Trade certification. Ever since, the community there has been earning a premium on tea sold through Fair Trade markets. Totaling around 20,000 USD annually today, this additional income has seen computers being installed in classrooms, organic vegetable gardens being dug and improvements being made to housing and schools, to name a few.