Questions and answers with founder of Organic Merchant
Date Posted:27 May 2018
How was Organic Merchant born?
After studying horticulture, I (Chalimah) decided to move into the field of naturopathy and started working at an integrative medical clinic. Seeing doctors and naturopaths work together made me believe that traditional medicine could be integrated with natural therapies to improve patient health. To me, blending therapeutic botanical infusions to support my patients’ treatments was a simple extension of my clinical practice. And that’s how the idea of producing a certified organic herbal tea range started.
Organic Merchant was launched in 2011 and throughout the years, the teas gained a reputation for both their taste and health benefits. Over time my initial work grew into the extensive Organic Merchant range seen today, brewing a kaleidoscope of colours.
What importance does organic certification play when it comes to teas?
Not only can we trace the origin of every single herb we use, but for us having a 100% Australian Certified Organic (ACO) certified organic range is a measure of purity, an ethical and sustainable choice, and a way of life. Teas that are not certified organic are often treated with pesticides. Yes, there are regulations on the use of chemicals in general, however we found them to be implemented rather loosely in Asia, compared to Europe.
We celebrate the earth’s simple purity, its wild, raw and natural beauty. Using certified organic, unaltered ingredients is a reflection of this.
Way of life
Everybody at Organic Merchant is mindful of their actions and has great awareness for nature. Using certified organic ingredients is just common sense to us.
Ethical & Sustainable
It is important to us that our day-to-day business practices endorse sustainability and are in unity with our general philosophy, which is to be nice and do good, and demonstrate care, respect and compassion for the community surrounding us.
What is the main difference between herbal teas and other teas? What are some different types of tea?
Main difference: Herbal teas are not produced from the tea plant (camellia sinensis), but from flowers, leaves, seeds or roots. Amongst the most common ones you can find peppermint, chamomile, or rose hip. When steeped too long any tea containing camellia sinensis might turn bitter. This is not the case with herbal infusions.
This is the rarest form of tea, making it quite exclusive. Often the early harvested leaves are steamed and left to dry. Normally white teas are low in caffeine. Preferred brewing temperature: 85°C
After picking the leaves they are often either rolled (e.g. Jasmine Green Tea) or folded (e.g. Sencha Green Tea). The caffeine content is a bit higher than that in white, but still on a moderate level. Preferred brewing temperature: 80°C
The leaves are processed immediately after picking, making it semi fermented. The short oxidation period lets the leaves turn from green to a slightly red- dish brown. Oolong teas generally have a delicate fruity taste. Preferred brewing temperature: 85°C - 90°C
The most common type of tea is made by fermenting the leaves for a while before further processing. It is the oxidation process that darkens the leaves, increasing the amount of caffeine. Preferred brewing temperature: 98°C
These are made by combining different types of teas, often with the aim of achieving consistency in flavour. The most popular blends include English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
What is your favourite tea blend and why?
I am obviously a bit of a tea addict, so I love lots of different sorts of tea and don’t particularly have a favourite. But at the moment I am a little bit under the weather, so I’ve been drinking a lot of Immune Tea and Vitamin C Tea.
What is Organic Merchant most popular tea blend and why?
Our best sellers change with the seasons. In spring the Cleansing Tea and Chakra Tea increase in demand. In the summer the Iced Tea blends become popular. And in autumn and winter Vitamin C Tea, Antioxidant Tea and Immune Tea are amongst the top blends. Generally popular ones throughout the year include French Earl Grey, Restful Tea and Energy Tea.
Are all your teas vegan and cruelty free?
Yes, all Organic Merchant teas are vegan and cruelty free. We put high importance on limiting our environmental impact and are conscious about all our choices. Every ingredient we use in our certified organic blends has been thoughtfully selected.
What inspires you every day?
It is my intention to live each day making choices and actions that demonstrate care, respect and compassion. As a mother of two, my passions have naturally changed from a personal focus. Previously I used to spend hours meditating, practicing yoga, as well as reading. I stepped out of clinical practice to concentrate on the Organic Merchant herbal tea range when my first son was born. And with that, as any new parent knows, I have had a lot less time to devote to myself! So I’d say it is my family that motivates and inspires me.
What are future plans for Organic Merchant?
We want to grow organically and slowly but steadily widen our product portfolio. Currently we are finalising our new cacao infusions, which is a product we have been developing over the past two years. I’m very excited to finally launch them.
If you could go back and start again with Organic Merchant, is there anything that you would do different?
Nothing. I’m grateful for all mistakes made along the way, as we managed to grow from them.
Any advice for anyone contemplating buying organic teas?
Most importantly you should inform yourself, so you know what you are drinking. Read the label! Make sure there are no flavourings or additives listed in the ingredients. We recommend buying loose leaf tea because not only can you see all individual components, but it is also less processed and milled than tea bags, keeping its therapeutic properties for longer. Additionally there is less packaging and hence a lower environmental impact. Personally I find that brewing a loose leaf tea, compared to a tea bag, makes a much cleaner, crisper cup of tea.
Organic Merchant Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main benefits of green tea?
Can you make chai latte with chai tea and what chai blend would you recommend for this?
The blends I would recommend for making a chai latte are: Black Chai, Spicy Chai and our recently released Outback Chai. Get inspired by Organic Merchant iced chai recipe. The upcoming cacao-infusions are going to be perfect for making a latte as well.
What are chai benefits?
There are many studies about chai benefits, with the ingredients acting harmonious to increase each other’s benefits. Traditional health benefits include: anti-inflammatory, cold and flu prevention, improving digestion as well as assisting in stabilising blood sugar levels.
Chai meaning – what is it?
Chai literally means tea.
Is there any caffeine in chai tea?
Whether or not a chai contains caffeine depends on whether the chai contains camellia sinensis. In the Organic Merchant range this is only the case for the Black Chai. We also carry three caffeine free chai blends: Spicy Chai and Outback Chai.
What is the benefit of combining turmeric with black pepper?
Predominantly, turmeric’s miracle powers work due to it’s anti-inflammatory action which are made possible by the major component curcumin. Research has found that combining turmeric with black pepper (Piper Nigrum) increases it’s bioavailability and therefore it’s therapeutic effectiveness. Read more about the increase antioxidant activity of combining black pepper with turmeric powder by visiting National Centre for Biotechnology Information
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