At Fleur De Lis Tea Company, what we love about tea is that it is inclusive and universal. Although we are proud to put Louisiana on the map for tea making, we recognize that many wonderful teas are hidden in small businesses like ours. Tea is a huge industry, with a lot of room for sharing and collaborating.
Tea will taste different based on the terrain and processing. A tea from another area will offer a different tasting experience. Many have said that our "Big Easy" black tea tastes like no other black tea they have had before. This is true, as our growing conditions and processing will not be exactly the same as others.
As tea fans ourselves, we were excited when Beverly Wainwright of the Scottish Tea Factory suggested we try a tea from Myanmar. The tea farm Mogok Tea was one that Beverly herself had worked with. Being well aware of Beverly’s standards we knew it had to be exceptional. Though, when we met the owner, Phyu Thwe, we quickly learned there is much more to this tea than just an exceptional beverage.
Mogok Tea is changing lives with a peaceful existence.
The founder of Mogok Tea, Phyu Thwe grew up in a village in Myanmar where her family owned an ancient tea farm. Phyu had the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom in her 20's and went to school for accounting. She quickly learned how different the two worlds were.
In Myanmar, jobs are extremely limited. You work for your meals. There is no such thing as stability. Locals work within the gem mining industry that is entirely based on luck. People from the village search out small clusters of dirt that were too small for the gem mining companies to bother with. They go through the dirt clusters in hopes of finding a lucky gem that they can
sell for enough money to feed their family.
Traditional ways would dictate that one person would provide for an entire family. But Phyu points out that the old ways do not work anymore. Most people need to work remotely, and it is hard to find those opportunities back home.
Phyu recognized her privileges being in the UK. She had an opportunity to provide for her family but her wisdom told her the benefit of that was not only limited to her. Instead, she wanted to give her family the ability to serve themselves no matter what happened to Phyu. She wanted to create something that would impact generations. This is where Mogok Tea emerged from. A vision from a selfless young woman in the UK.
Phyu transformed a farm full of 30 year old tea plants into a productive small business.
Over the last few years, Phyu has worked tirelessly to bring Western tea standards to Myanmar. This included the development of her tea processing facility, working with esteemed tea processor Beverly Wainwright and, of course, investing in her people.
They have had to build and educate on things many of us would take for granted here. For example, in the village, there is no garbage process. No one comes to take the garbage away. It is tossed outside. Electricity and running water are also not something commonly available.
These are all things, along with many others, that Phyu had to contend with when building her processing facility. Over the years she has done just that. Yet, there are still limitations that they have to work with. They have to work with what they have. For example, they use a generator for electricity. That is much different from the Western experience of, we need to run a line. They have made it work, showing incredible resilience.
Phyu now employs 12 people. She shares that it was actually hard to encourage people to work in her business despite the vast freedoms it could provide. People were afraid of the change. Searching for gems seemed more stable than processing tea. Over time, that outlook has changed. Phyu has educated her team on basic rights. She employs them year-round, despite only being able to work them part of the year. She is teaching them every aspect of the business so it will live on beyond her.
Mogok Tea delivers premium tea to Myanmar and the world.
Phyu explains to us that tea standards in Myanmar are not the same as the Western world. The tea that is common there is not very good. This is not the case with her tea. She has brought in the science and knowledge of Western tea processing, to take an exceptional leaf and mix it with outstanding processing practices. The result is a premium tea.
Her tea plants are organic and work incredibly hard to prevent plant stress. Each batch of tea is meticulously tracked and managed to ensure the moisture levels are perfect. They follow the science of tea making, complemented by some outstanding growing conditions.
Mogok Tea has developed a premium tea with outstanding results.
Beverly Wainwright describes this tea for us. “I love this tea, it has complex layers of flavor from the sweetness of honey through woody notes. It reminds me of a whisky aged in a sherry oak cask where the woody notes are in the background but the sweetness lingers and changes from honey to raisin.”
This amazing tea mixed with our own black tea, "Big Easy" will make a perfect blend. Honey and woody notes will collide into one great cup of tea.
When we decided to partner with this tea, we partnered with a person whose story connected to our hearts. Myanmar is a country going through a difficult time, but if you look past its government to its people you will see the universal connection we all have of trying to survive on this floating rock. Although we may all survive differently, we can find friendship and connection in something as simple as tea.
Phyu is living her life to deliver premium tea while helping her people feed their families and become self-sufficient. She is an incredible optimist who is using her gifts and privilege to change a part of the world, one family at a time.
We could not be more proud to partner with such an exceptional tea company and wonderful person with our up and coming new tea, "Friendship Blend". This tea will take two small businesses with exceptional leaf and combine them into a blend of one amazing cup of black tea.
Serendipity strikes again!
Throughout our tea journey, it seemed like a guiding hand was behind us, leading us to where we needed to be. That is more evident than ever with the recognition we have received for both of the teas making up our "Friendship Blend." Months ago we chose Phyu's "Organic Black Tea" from Mogok Tea to blend with our own: a high-quality, small batch, delicious tea whose flavors naturally pair with our "Big Easy." We had no idea that both our "Big Easy" a Mogok's "Organic Black Tea" would be individually recognized on the international level.
Separately, we both entered our teas into the UK Tea Academy's First Annual "Leafies" awards. Going up against hundreds of other entries, and this being our first year in production at Fleur de Lis Tea co., we had no clue what the international community would think about our product. Well, they must have enjoyed it, because our "Big Easy" was awarded the title of "highly commended" while Mogok tea's "Organic Black Tea" took home the gold, both in the category of black tea!
We are very excited to share that the teas making up our "Friendship Blend" were awarded the #1 and #2 teas in the UK Tea Academy's First Annual "Leafies" awards for black tea! As the title states "Serendipity Strikes Again," letting us know we are on the right track to creating a wonderful product and partnering with other phenomenal growers.