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TÈ E INFUSI/ Tè per tutti i gusti
Relatore del Sud Africa
I am from the Environmental Managing Group. My talk is about rooibos, an indigenous tea from South Africa and we are gonna be talking about organic and fair trade of rooibos. This is a picture of a woman harvesting rooibos tea and you can see on the background what the countryside looks like. It is mixed bush where the tea come from. The area where the cooperative is situated is 360 Kms north of Cape Town, just out of the town of Newsville. This area is full of diversity and has a large number of unique and endemic species. The indigenous plants of the area are adapted to the hot dry summers and droughts which come ciclicy and this means it is a not so easy place to make living. The rainfall is between 150 mm. and 300 mm. Rooibos only groves in the north and west of South Africa and has been used since ancient days. Rooibos is caffeine free, low in tannin and high in anti-oxidants. It also has antiallergenic properties and it makes delicious beverage, hot or cold. Our members are small farmers and we were discriminated against by the government and this contributed to wide spread poverty in the community.
We funded the cooperative in 2001. 14 members decided to fund the cooperative. We wanted to get better access to markets and cut production costs. Since then we have grown to 28 members and in the photograph you can see some of the members. In 2001 our members were certified as organic producers. Since then we have received premium prizes for our exports and so our members are paid the best prices in the industry for the tea and we use the money to improve our farming activities. Our members produce the minimal damage to environment and we use no artificial fertilisers or toxic chemicals. Buffer strips prevent erosion and enhance biodiversity.
We are talking about the wild rooibos that is different from the cultivated one. The wild one is a truly natural product resistant to drought, pests and diseases. It grows slower than cultivated rooibos but it lives for longer. It is harvested in a sustainable way and we have conducted research with scientists to find the most sustainable way to use the resource.

Alexey Zhukov (Russia)
I would like to tell you about the district of Sakhalin and about the problems of local farmers and small business in this district.
The district of Sakhalin is the only district in Russia that is situated on islands. It borders with Japan, the place where the sun raises. According to the scientists we have never had ice period on that island and the herbs that existed time ago still exist in the island. And from this cause the first concern is that people are taking care of the wild herbs of Sakhalin. The herbs on the islands are very poorly studied and unfortunately there is no possibility to do it as the Europe does. The people from the ancient tribes who lived on the islands weren’t literate and so they didn’t leave any information about the herbs. I got my experience from my parents and I have been studying about herbs for a long time. So it is not only a scientific problem but it is also a problem of nation. In ancient time people had a pretty hard life but they didn’t have any change in their life so they left a quiet life in Sakhalin. Our grandparents had time and they took their time gathering the herbs and cultivating them. Unfortunately now the time runs quickly and to harvest herbs doesn’t have more place. There is a difference between tea in envelopes and herbs that are wild. There is an old philosophy of gathering herbs and making tea, for example, we have the so called “wake up”, the herbs to make the tea and after that there is a kind of fast food and in this way we will loose the nature and all that the nature gives us when we do it fast. For example it takes 30-40 minutes to make a tea with wild herbs from Sakhalin. Modern people are short of time but if we act in this way we would loose the quality of the herbs. And unfortunately modern people choose the speed instead of the quality.
The third problem is that sometimes there are insects in the wild herbs and modern people are against it. But we smoke cigarettes, we eat meat, we drink medicines and we are not afraid of what there is in. But tiny insects frightened us. But this is part of nature and part of wild life. The next problem is the financial one because there is no legal and quality standard for wild herbs. When we came to our government with our herbs they have no documents or standards for the tea and it gets thousands and thousands euros to get the certificate for the tea.
So these are the problems we have and now we are trying to find the ways out. It is quite possible to get money and find out standards and at least to have the help of the friends, but the main problem is that modern person should understand that quality come first and only than comes speed and fast tea. They should be a sort of people that love nature and take care of wild herbs. And so we are here gathered together and we can start to do something new.

Caroline De Koch (Zimbawe)
We will present Makoni herbal tea which is a wild tea from Zimbawe. My colleague, Mr Constantin Magunda is from the Indigenous Tea Producers Association. They are all tea providers and I am from Speciality Food from Africa, that purchases and processes the tea. Makoni tea is a wild harvested herbal tea from eastern high lands of Zimbawe, it has many traditional uses associated with that. Tea has been commercialized as a result of a partnership between rural producers, an NGO and the private sector.

Constantin Magunda (Zimbawe)
It is for me a priviledge to present in Italy Makoni tea. Makoni tea at the beginning was not a tea but a beverage taken by the soldiers during the tribal wars. Chief Makoni used to give his soldiers and people began to drink tea and then this beverage tended to be tea.
We local communities receive the help of Sefire NGO that organized us, formed in association so that we eradicated poverty among the family and the communities. So we go out in the bush to collect Makoni tea and we sell it to Caroline. Now people understand that out of natural resources we get money and so we are able again to send children to school. Makoni tea helps a lot our body because it had a lot of zinc and when you feel backbone and stomach trouble tea helps a lot.
We sell tea in the local market but we are looking at the international market as well so that our community would benefit by that. Now there are some challenges because this is an herbal tea and there are some big bosses in companies who may take that blend and so they would begin to plant and put fertilizers. On the contrary we want to take the tea in the forest and give it to the people.

Caroline De Koch (Zimbawe)
I want to tell you a little bit about the company that commercializes Makoni herbal tea and how the relationship between us, the producers and the NGO, works.
Speciality Food from Africa is a private company whose mission is to produce high quality food from Africa in a contest of fair trade and sustainability. We are becoming a member of the International Federation of Fair Trade. We are based in Zimbawe but we have partners in other countries.
We work with a range of food products related only with indigenous resources in Zimbawe. We commercialize, besides Makoni herbal tea, jam of other wild fruits. We work also with other two kinds of beans and we also do honey.
Some of the challenges we face in Zimbawe are in terms of running business: we are facing hyperinflation, we have lack of fuel, lack of packaging, about political problems we don’t have a very democratic govenrment, we have a lot of violence that make us unsafe in operation and we have a lot of starvation and displacement of our people. The supply chain of Makoni tea: we have the NGO Sefire that is an environmental NGO that assists us and they also assist the indigenous tea producers in sustainable harvesting activities and funding for future projects. Our role as private sector is to purchase the tea and coordinate the process of the tea and do marketing promotion and exporting. Tea producers do the harvesting and fermenting of the tea.

Marco Bertona
Parlare del tè in Italia è come parlare del vino agli amici cinesi. In Italia la situazione è abbastanza drammatica riguardo al tè. Ad esempio, spesso si crede ancora che ci sia una pianta che produce il tè nero e un’altra che produce quello verde!
La nostra associazione - che si chiama Associazione Italiana Degustatori e Maestri di Thé - è un ente culturale senza fini di lucro che ha un duplice scopo: da una parte quello di informare il consumatore sul tè in tutti i suoi aspetti, culturali, salutistici e degustativi; dall’altra di fare un po’ di chiarezza e coordinamento tra gli operatori commerciali che operano nel settore.
Tra questi ultimi regna infatti una certa confusione: alcuni aprono dei negozi per vendere tè o aprono delle case da tè avendo comunque delle conoscenze molto ridotte sull’argomento. Ho molti amici che hanno attività commerciali legate al tè; spesso mi fanno assaggiare dei tè e vi dico che i commercianti stessi a volte si prendono delle fregature. I numeri sono importanti e per questo vi presenterò alcune cifre. Siamo sui 3000milioni di tonnellate all’anno per quanto riguarda la produzione di tè. I sei maggiori produttori hanno globalmente il 75% dell’intera produzione mondiale. Bisogna aggiungere che a fronte di questi grandi numeri non corrisponde un’adeguata qualità. Il tè è la bevanda più bevuta al mondo dopo l’acqua naturale e perciò potete capire che è un settore dove ci sono grossi interessi. Il fatto di essere qui riuniti a Terra Madre è importante perché il tè che conosciamo noi è principalmente un tè industriale. Se per esempio è stimato che in UK si consumano 163.000.000 di tazze di tè al giorno, bisognerebbe chiedersi di che qualità sono!
Possiamo orientarci su due tipologie di commercio: i tè miscelati (blend) e quelli che vengono definiti single garden tea che sono tè provenienti da produzioni di origine controllata e protetta. Normalmente un tè industriale è una miscela di una cinquantina di tè. La maggior parte di essi viene dall’Africa e poi vengono miscelati con tè provenienti dall’India.
Diverso è il discorso per quanto riguarda il tè di qualità, che interessa anche un certo tipo di produttori. I single garden tea sono i più interessanti dal punto di vista qualitativo e anche dal punto di vista produttivo perché significa che ogni produttore mantiene la sua tipologia di tè. In Cina, per esempio, ci sono tantissimi produttori ognuno con le sue caratteristiche tipiche. Ed è proprio questa tipicità che deve essere preservata. Quindi il mercato, almeno quello occidentale, guarda con molto interesse a questi piccoli produttori che garantiscono la qualità.
Il tè rientra insieme agli infusi nella classe delle erbe officinali in quanto possiede dei principi attivi che possono essere interessanti dal punto di vista salutistico.
Quindi è necessario salvaguardare le produzioni (di qualsiasi dimensione) ma che garantiscono la qualità e l’originalità. Purtroppo non esiste come per i vini una specie di marchio, e penso che questa possa essere una proposta interessante da fare nei paesi da cui le persone che sono qui presenti provengono. Lottare per avere un marchio che certifichi la qualità e l’originalità e garantisca l’informazione sul prodotto per avvantaggiare i produttori ma anche rassicurare i consumatori.

Leo Kwan (Honk Kong)
Today I’m going to discuss the major motivations for us to develop a very tedious argument but quite important such as the marketing concept. Tea is a very important commodity in China and to me tea is also a great tradition, a very important part of our daily life. It is a healthy thing and overall it is part of the taste you can not do without. But why we began to do all these thing we are doing? This is a little map of China. This little point in the map is Honk Kong and these three places are the three most important places for Oolong production tea.
By the early XIX century, tea, together with silk and porcelain are the 3 most important export out of China to the west. This situation led to a great commercial deficit for the western countries, especially UK and Portugal. The western countries began to think a way to be sure to get enough silver to trade for the tea.
The Chinese did not need anything more, we, the most of us, led very quiet and regular life. The west invented a very interesting way to tip off the trade deficit. They introduced opium in China. Opium has been used in China for centuries, but it was not very popular before. But since England at that time had so many colonies not very productive, cultivating opium was a very straightforward thing. So they cultivated opium just to south of China to easily import. Then massively marketed and imported illegal opium into China. Once a governor of the south of China decided to burn the whole illegal shipments containing opium. This gave an excuse to english Government to attack China.
Subsequently, Honk Hong became a colony of the British empire, and since of that period tea has began to be produced in Assam, Ceylon… and this caused a damage to China as biggest tea exporter.
Today in the main chinese cities people are buying Lipton chinese green tea! To me this is a nightmare. I have been consuming Oolong of highest quality for a large part of my life and to see Lipton selling chinese green tea is disquieting. Besides they sell it in the pack which is not a very good idea, because you don’t know what is inside. So we funded our own brand with efforts in collecting tea in small gardens in China because most of the people who work there don’t know anything about marketing. They don’t speak English and a lot of them cannot even write very well in Chinese. They are not able to market their product well.
One thing about chinese culture: everyone for themselves, everyone are their own hero. This is not good. That was why we fell in the Opium War. So if we are able to unite together as a much collective force, then we could create a good icon for highest quality tea. Then we created our brand with which we have all the tea varieties that are indigenous Chinese of every particular region and even more specific for every village. On the packs are marked the time of harvest, origin of tea bush planting place and finishing style.
The real tea in chinese sense is not only an agricultural product, but it is a craft. It takes the tea producers 24 hours of work, as minimum, to produce the tea we use from the plough. So it is a lot of work. And if you cannot control the technique well, if you don’t know the harvest well, you may reach a very low quality batch. If you do well, it can be as different as 1000 $ per kg to 10 $ per kg. The reason why we are able to gather so many different small tea gardens together to do a brand for, is because one single mechanism, and this is economy.
We give them very good money to collect the tea so they would be safe the best batch for us.
We also guarantee them there is a constant increasing volume because we are increasing our market distribution. Whit this deal we respect the producers and this is important because in the agricultural chinese business there is a lack of respect. We hope that with our effort then we would be able to create a tea culture that is understandable by the very simple mechanism of economy and marketing. Without that I think any ideology, any slow food concept can work. The main concern is how we create a mechanism whereby we can self sustain the mechanism itself and we can feed the people which produce this product very well. Without the attractiveness of the money that goes into these small communities of few hundreds of persons we are not able to sustain conservation of good quality tea and traditions in production a craft. The quality alone would be able to attract more consumers. But without economy we don’t be able to sustain all of that.

Andrè Chavan (Argentina)
Buongiorno a tutti, vengo dall’Argentina e sono coltivatore di mate.
Voi avrete visto sicuramente i nostri gauchos andare in giro con quella specie di recipiente con un piccolo tubo da cui succhiano il mate.
Noi siamo un gruppo di coltivatori di erba mate. Viviamo vicino alle cascate dell’Iguazu ed è in quest’area geografica, tra Paraguay, Brasile e Argentina che cresce il mate e in particolare nella regione di Misiones. Le qualità del mate sono molte, è un prodotto stimolante, digestivo. Il mate ha un enorme mercato proprio nel Sud America, cioè in tutta l’Argentina, nel sud del Brasile, nell’Uruguay, Cile e Bolivia. In generale ci sono milioni di consumatori di questo prodotto. La nostra area di produzione di mate intorno a Missiones è un area costituita da mini fondi, ossia 18000 piccoli produttori di erba mate su proprietà non superiori ai 10 ettari ciascuno.
In relazione al concetto di Slow Food, il mate proprio per la sua preparazione è un elemento davvero slow. Non è una bevanda che si può bere in fretta come un caffè, o facendo altre attività e in mezzo allo stress. È una cosa che si associa ad altre attività, ma bere il mate è una cosa lenta.
Inoltre il mate ha il valore simbolico dell’amicizia. Quando si viene ospitati in una casa in Argentina, viene offerto il mate. Bere il mate può sembrare antiigienico perché lo si beve tutti dalla stessa cannuccia (bombilla), ma in fondo è come per gli svizzeri mangiare la fonduta dalla stessa padella!
Il mate proviene da un albero conosciuto dagli indios Guaranì. I loro sciamani lo usavano per attivare gli indios prima di iniziare una battaglia o per i rituali. In seguito sono venuti i gesuiti che hanno trasformato l’albero del mate, alto più di 30 mt nella foresta, in arbusto, e oggi è questo tipo di arbusto che viene utilizzato per ottenere l’erba mate.
Il mate si è trasformato come il tè in una specie di commodity, proprio perché ci sono delle grandi ditte che raccolgono il prodotto di molti piccoli produttori e fanno miscele di questa erba.
Tutto d’un tratto nasce la necessità di trovare differenze.
Quest’anno a Buenos Aires nel Corso di Laurea in Enologia è stata istituita una cattedra specializzata nel trovare e proporre la degustazione delle diverse qualità di mate dovute alle differenti qualità, diversi tipi di lavorazioni e tempi di seccatura. Grazie
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