Tariel Chubinidze was only seven years old when he picked his first tea leaf on a plantation in the village of Kvatsikhe in the Imereti Region. Then the Soviet Union collapsed and collective farms disappeared along with it. The plantation where Tariel worked as a kid lay abandoned for the next 30 years until he himself decided to give new life to his favourite tea gardens.
When Chubinidze, the director of the Kvatsikhe Tea Bouquet Cooperative, decided to rehabilitate the 13 hectares plantation, people thought he would fail. But he proved everybody wrong. Chubinidze is now getting ready to introduce his Tifli tea to Georgia and the rest of the world.
Chubinidze sees high value in bioproduction and thinks that it wills open doors to international markets. All of Kvatsikhe Tea Bouquet Mountain organic teas are single-estate, grown using only organic fertilizers, and processed without artificial additives, emulsifiers or dyes. The result is an ecologically clean Georgian product that has a distinctive aroma and a unique taste.
The harvest season begins in April and lasts until October. During this period, more than 55 locals work at the plantation daily and pick tea by hand. To get the best products, Kvatsikhe TBC pays enormous attention to the quality of the leaf: to maintain their original properties, tea leaves are picked only at a certain stage of ripeness, processed for 3-5 hours after harvesting, and kept in a highly ventilated storage facility.
The company acquired a bubbling washing machine with an ozone generator, a fruit slicing and packaging machine, and other equipment with donor’s assistance. As a result, it has expanded production to organic dried fruits, including wild apples, plums, pears and others, all delicious fruits harvested in western Georgia.
Okriba’s founders believe that local enterprises slow down migration from Georgia’s mountain villages by providing jobs for locals. More than 100 people work seasonally at their plantation, producing harvests of about 6 tonnes of tea each year. The enterprise’s core staff is 10. With more production and higher demand, the workforce is expected to grow in the future.
Buetea is already well known on the Georgian market and is offered in different forms: from loose tea and teabags to pyramid-shaped bags made of biodegradable materials. The enterprise has also made a deal with a German company that is introducing Georgian certified tea to French and Dutch markets.
The GRETA project | “Green Economy: Sustainable Mountain Tourism and Organic Agriculture” is co-financed by the European Union, Austria and Sweden, and is implemented in Georgia by the Austrian Development Agency. The project aims to facilitate the improvement of the business environment and increase opportunities for generating additional revenues in two such important sectors of Georgian economy as mountain tourism and organic agriculture. The project covers the regions of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti as well as Upper Imereti; entrepreneurs from the municipalities of Mestia, Lentekhi, Tsageri, Oni, Ambrolauri, Sachkhere, Chiatura and Tkibuli are involved in the project. Find out more at www.gretaproject.ge