Villagers of Gairsen harvest naturally growing tea in wild forest land.
In Gairsen where Luxmi lives, the villagers never have to buy packaged tea. This is because there is a large area of wild forest land nearby, and amongst the trees, tea plants grow naturally. The family who owns this land lives in Delhi and has allowed the villagers to harvest and drink the tea for free, on the condition that they don’t sell it. It is rare and refreshing to hear of such generosity on the part of wealthy landowners, says Luxmi, who believes that the family might one day want to use the land for something else, but are now content to let the villagers benefit.
In the meantime, the tea is harvested twice a year by the community members, and Luxmi says most households in her neighbourhood including hers, stock enough tea to last them the whole year. They often give it to relatives and friends from other areas, as a token gift from their village. The harvesting is done under the supervision of a committee elected by the community, and each family takes what it needs.
Being completely organic, the tea is comparatively much purer and healthier than what can be bought in shops. Luxmi says that previously, her community members used to all grow their own tea. But now that Uttarakhand produces tea commercially on a large scale, most people just buy packets of tea from the shops. Luxmi feels that everyone in her state should make use of the fertile land and farming-friendly seasonal weather to begin growing tea in their own garden again – not only is it cheaper, but much healthier too.