BBC Investigation into Assam Tea Gardens

Wednesday 9 September 2015 by JING Tea

Today the BBC have released a report raising concerns on conditions in a number of tea gardens in Assam.

We welcome this report and appreciate the importance of this kind of investigation. Tea industry workers, their welfare and their treatment concerns us directly. We consider that the BBC’s findings will provide additional impetus to improve working and living conditions for those whose livelihood depends on the tea industry, particularly in Assam.

We form part of the Ethical Tea Partnership and work with them closely. Our ethical sourcing process covers both internal and external audits. We follow Ethical Trade Initiative principles; we work together with The Ethical Tea Partnership to ensure appropriate auditing of tea gardens.

The Ethical Tea Partnership is a membership organisation of 40 international tea companies. Its members collaborate to make a positive difference in tea growing regions, striving to improve the lives and livelihoods of people who produce tea. JING fully supports its work and remains committed to its aims. The issues the report highlights underscore why such an organisation exists and is needed.

The ETP have a clear focus on Assam as a region and are taking many positive steps to improve the lives of workers on tea estates. Some of these are:

Sanitation in India is a major challenge. 75% of surface water in India is contaminated by sewage and almost half the Indian population don’t have access to a toilet. There is increasing investment by tea producers but there remains much more to be done.

Agrochemical management is particularly resistant to change; poor practice remains deeply embedded. The issue accordingly receives continued ETP focus.

41% of Indian children fail to complete 8 years of education. ETP have entered into a major partnership with UNICEF in Assam, working with 350 communities linked to more than 100 tea estates, aiming to offer young people a brighter future.

ETP and Oxfam are educating organisations to raise understanding about wages, benefits and basic needs, and address concerns about wages and benefits in the tea industry.

We are mindful of potential issues within Assam as we are with all tea origins from which we source. We do not buy from any gardens highlighted as substandard by the BBC as at the date of this release. If any tea gardens that we do work with fall below ETP standards, then we will cease our relationship until appropriate improved working and living conditions are

We firmly believe that Assam is one of the world’s great teas. The solution to the issues raised by the BBC report will be achieved through collaboration and cooperation via industry bodies. These bodies include the ETP, other charities and Indian bodies, such as Trustea, who aim to ensure that value is shared for everyone at each stage of tea production.

Find out more about the Ethical Tea Partnership

Ceremony & Travel

Monday 10 August 2015 by Sarah

Chamomile Flower Field

As the holiday season draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on travel and the importance of ceremony and connecting with others when away. The physical act of travelling,whether it be to far flung shores or closer to home, brings with it a change of perspective and an opportunity to celebrate being with the ones you love.

Sharing in the mutual appreciation of simple and much needed indulgent pleasures relaxes and invigorates the mind. Whether it be an inspiring view, delicious plate of food, or fine wine, the luxury of time allows us to enjoy these moments a little longer when we travel.

Traditional Gaiwan Ceremony

For us, tea and travel complement each other perfectly. A time to engage both the senses and the mind, our loose tea leaves unfurl and come to life in our hand blown glass teaware, allowing infusion of aromas and clarity of colour. It is an absorbing and uplifting ceremony for the spirit.

In a world of distraction, we all need focus. Enjoy escaping with your JING Tea Ceremony.

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JING Tea Master

Monday 3 August 2015 by David Hepburn - Creative Manager

Bringing ancient tea making to life for people today

 JING Tea Master

I first experienced a traditional Chinese gong fu tea ceremony in a small teahouse next to the Confucius Temple in Beijing. I was studying Mandarin in the city after graduating from university, and looking to absorb as much of traditional Chinese culture as I could during my stay.

It was the first time I had seen a gaiwan, a simple lidded bowl and saucer set used to make tea. The gaiwan is one of the oldest ways to make tea in China, itself the world’s oldest tea culture. Watching the tea master expertly infuse the tea was simultaneously a very calming but engaging experience.

Traditional Gaiwan

As I watched her circulate the leaves in the bowl with the edge of the lid, then deftly pick up the bowl and lid, tilt the lid back and pour the tea into a pitcher, it all seemed so elegant and simple. I bought a gaiwan there and then and set about learning how to use it. I quickly found it was not as easy as it looked, the master in the teahouse had made it look deceptively easy. I persisted though, and got the knack of it eventually.

Traditional Gaiwan v3

What I most loved about using a gaiwan, and still do, is how hands on it is, how much making tea in a gaiwan makes you appreciate the tea you are drinking, the aromas, colours and sounds. You can’t use a gaiwan on autopilot, as you can with infusing a tea bag, you need to concentrate and take a moment to focus on what you’re doing. As with all gong fu tea ceremonies, it’s a great ritual that roots you in the moment, and one that you can enjoy over many quick infusions.

While living in Taiwan for six months last year, working on new teaware designs, I took the opportunity to immerse myself in traditional tea culture. I finally had the chance to look into a question that had been on my mind since my experience in Beijing – how could I make a tea set, inspired by the classic gaiwan ceremony, but designed for people today, that anyone could use perfectly first time? The Tea Master project was born.

Tea Master Set Product Shelf

So much care and attention to detail has gone into the design and production of this product. To create the double-walled body of the Tea Master we have pushed porcelain manufacturing to its limits, going through many rounds of samples to achieve a shape that is balanced and comfortable to hold, even when infusing tea with boiling water over many infusions. We tweaked the shape of the spout over and over to ensure a steady, and non-drip pour, which is truly harder than it sounds!

Tea Master Sharing Set Product Shelf

Today, I’m so happy to see the Tea Master sets launching exclusively on our website. I really hope our customers enjoy using the Tea Master. I hope it gives you a simple and easy way to enjoy loose tea, bringing a little bit of ancient tea culture to life for you everyday.

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