Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sad News regarding the Makaibari Tea Estate

The Makaibari Tea Estate in the Darjeeling region of India is home to some of our most popular teas -- Makaibari Green (also with ginger or mint added) , Makaibari Silver Tips, Ooooh Darjeelong. These teas may be in short supply in the coming months sue to a devastating cyclone that hit the estate last week. Below is the full story:

Makaibari Recovering From Cyclone Aila
by Heidi Kyser
Friday, 19 June 2009

Makaibari Estate suffered great damage from Cyclone Aila (photo courtesy Eco Prima)

A relief effort is underway to help the managers and workers at the Makaibari Tea estate who were affected by Cyclone Aila.

According to national weather reports, Aila (sometimes called a cyclone and sometimes a tropical storm) made landfall in southern Bangladesh and eastern India on May 25, 2009. The Times of India reported that the storm took an unusual turn directly to the north, causing it to rip through areas rarely affected by tropical storms. Various media have estimated the death toll so far to be as high as 275.

Rajah Banerjee, CEO of Makaibari described the cyclone as "devastating":

"On the night of 25th May , a fierce cyclone hit us with all its fury. It sped across the vast plains of Bengal, and winds, which were 139 miles an hour, increased its intensity once it was funneled into crevasses of the Himalayan foothills. Makaibari, in the Darjeeling sub-district of Kurseong was the first on its deadly path of mayhem , death and destruction."

"The ferocity of the wind-lashed rain was so great that the window panes turned to dust on impact – there were scarcely any shards. To see it happen in front of one's eyes is an absolute trauma. Branches of trees snapped off easily. Thousands of them swirled around throughout the night of the storm like unguided missiles, impaling and destroying. It was a night of terror, the likes of which has never been experienced before."

Damage to Makaibari Estate caused by Cyclone Aila (photo courtesy Eco Prima)Anupa Mueller, owner and CEO of Eco-Prima Tea, a close partner of Makaibari, reported that the cyclone damaged the roof of the tea factory, the manager's complex and 150 workers' homes. Banerjee added that he had lost 12 acres of tea in the rains that accompanied the storm.

Mueller received a letter from the Office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in Darjeeling, which summarized the disaster and stated, "We are distributing relief from our end, but it would be desirable if NGOs (non-government organizations) are also involved in this relief and reconstruction."

According to the letter, a total of 3,322 houses were destroyed and another 5,346 were partially damaged. Mueller said Makaibari's estimated losses will be $1.5 million to $2 million.

In response, Eco-Prima plans to allocate a percentage of all Makaibari sales for relief funds. The company has set up a Web page where donations can be made.

Hampstead Tea London, another company that works closely with Makaibari, has also set up a special page on its Web site where donors can make contributions. Kiran Tawadey, director of Hampstead, said the effort has received support from Fairtrade as well as customers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A tea tasting scheduled

On Friday, June 12 6pm-8pm there will be an Artist's Reception entitled ``Inspired by the Teapot'' held at Aimie's Lobby Gallery at Aimie's Dinner and a Movie on Glen Street in downtown Glens Falls. The artists are students of Chris Walton, of Studio Art in Glens Falls.
This is an exhibition of pottery and painting that is inspired by tea. Especially unique to this evening, each visitor will receive a gift of tea bowl made by the students. As well, there will be a tea tasting provided by SensibiliTeas. Though I've no idea yet precisely which tea to serve, it's sure to be a wonderful show. I hope that if you are in our area, you'll be able to join us!

If you require additional detail, please feel free to contact SensibiliTeas at or contact Chris Walton at 518-743-1493.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Leukemia Patients Benefit From EGCG in Clinical Trial

A research team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., last week released results of a clinical trial suggesting that an antioxidant found in green tea can benefit patients with a common type of leukemia.

A Mayo Clinic team led by Drs. Tait Shanafelt and Neil Kay were following up on previous, promising research in laboratories, on animal tissue and then on human cells. They administered capsules containing high doses (400 to 2,000 milligrams each) of epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant in green tea, to 33 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which a news release described as "the most common subtype of leukemia in the United States."

One-third of participants experienced a reduced lymphocyte count, and the majority of individuals who entered the study with enlarged lymph nodes saw a 50-percent or greater decline in their lymph node size, the release stated.

Shanafelt said, "We found not only that patients tolerated the green tea extract at very high doses, but that many of them saw regression to some degree of their chronic lymphocytic leukemia."

Although blood tests can help diagnose CLL early on, there is no cure for the disease, and treatment requires letting it progress. About half of CLL patients have an aggressive form of it that leads to early death. According to the release, "Researchers hope that EGCG can stabilize CLL for early stage patients or perhaps improve the effectiveness of treatment when combined with other therapies."

A follow-up study to this one is already underway. A video interview with Shanafelt can be seen here.