• Tea campaigns on Kickstarter

    Tumoi Tea Estate team members from left to right: Peter Jumba, Emmanuel Kipkogei,
    Bernard Maiyo, Christine Chepkemei, Robert Kibiwot, and Hyline Jepkosgei

    Ten thousand kilometers separate Kenya’s Tumoi Tea Estate and South Korean students attending Handong University. How are they connected? Cassidy Bailey at Texas State University in San Marcos, Tex. is the unlikely link. Bailey launched a Kickstarter campaign this month to establish “a new global value chain” directly linking consumers to tea growers no matter how distant.

    “The $20,000 ChakanCha Kickstarter campaign is currently 31% funded. The project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by midnight Nov. 30.”
    Click here to donate.


    Bailey writes that tea growers in Kenya earn as little as $75 per month, toiling in gardens where compensation for their labor amounts to less than 1% of the retail price paid by consumers. Growers and tea processors at origin are not much better off. It takes six months for their tea to reach market and they receive only 3% of the retail value.

    “That’s where we come in,” she explains. “Tea farmers have no control over the large scale variables at play in the global value chain, which are decisive in determining their wage levels,” says Bailey.

    Using IT technologies and smart logistics for tea, a modern supply chain can deliver fresher tea from farm to cup “without any exploitation,” says Bailey.

    Capturing more of tea’s value at origin, the goal of the Chakancha (good tea) project, was initiated by the Global Problem Solving lab at Handong Global University in Korea. The program came to the attention of the Entrepreneurial Innovators Group (EIG) at Texas State who view Chakancha “not only as an ethical business venture to learn from, but a chance to make a tangible impact through international collaboration,” writes Bailey.

    On November 10 CKC (Chakancha) supporters in Handong conducted a tasting of black and milk tea. “We are so grateful that everyone enjoyed their tea time,” they wrote on Instagram.

    There are three million tea growers in Kenya, observes Boaz Katah, who owns the Tumoi Tea Estate and factory, located in the Nandi Hills. The factory has processed tea for generations, working with small-scale farmers west of the Rift Valley, who grow their crop at heights up to 6,700 feet above sea-level but their output of commercial CTC (cut, tear, curl) grades is largely invisible as the teas are sold for blending at auction.

    Now the factory is a leader in the development and branding of single-estate teas. Katah reverted to the early Kenyan production of orthodox tea and now produces black, green, oolong, and purple teas. He grows his tea at 5,600 feet in a lush, hilly region on the equator where the tea is plucked continuously thanks to 12 hours of sunshine and 12 hours of night. “It is a well-balanced climate for growing the right crop for that perfect cup of tea,” says Katah, whose hand-picked, pesticide-free teas are marketed as Chakancha Black.

    Tumoi Estate Chankancha artisan tea

    Donors who contribute $40 will have their name engraved on a tea mural in the Tumoi Village and receive two packages of Chakancha black tea with a holiday card handwritten by a Tumoi tea picker. Donors who contribute $400 receive a video letter, inscription and 10 holiday gift boxes that can be delivered to 10 different loved ones, writes Katah.

    Chai Easy

    Design features of the ChaiEasy brewing machine.

    ChaiEasy is an automated chai maker that eliminates the hassle of pots and strainers, scalded milk, and spills common to stove top methods.

    “Chai time is a tradition and it should be all about enjoying the moment,” explains Samir Sahoo, an Austin, Tex., chai lover determined to come up with a machine that “delivers on the same authentic homemade chai taste, without compromising on quality or taste and be really easy to use.”

    Donors have contributed $8,000 of the $10,000 goal. The project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by December 23.
    Click here to donate.


    “Chai preparation is a very involved and messy process, requiring a lot of clean up afterwards. Makes you wonder: What if it was just easy to make the same traditional cup of Chai?” he writes.
    All ingredients brew together at the same time just like traditional chai is made, writes Sahoo.

    Refillable pods contain the chai ingredients including popular and healthful spices used to make chai. ChaiEasy offers pods in four flavors, original, cardamom, ginger, and masala.

    Donors receive a brewer and an assortment of pods with a brew-to-go cup for $170. Additional rewards at $200, $240, and $280. The brewer ships in April 2021.

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