We received a large shipment of teas yesterday - Makaibari 2nd flush - which came in via ocean freight. We import teas for our own use (wholesale and retail) but also for other large companies in the U.S. who then package it under their brand. Apart from the exporter (in this case, Makaibari) and importer (us), two types of companies play an important part in the journey of tea - the customs broker at the importer's end and the transport company that picks up the tea at the pier. I provide endorsed original shipping documents to the customs broker who then files the entry, pays the necessary fees on our behalf, co-ordinates the many inspections now necessary under FDA and bioterrorism rules and then advises us when the shipment is cleared and released for pick-up. I then arrange for the shipment to be picked up. We work with a very efficient logistics company, located close to our offices, for pick-up and storage. They recently added new people and yesterday I gave them a training session on how to read the shipping marks, how to store, how to comply with Organic rules, labelling procedures, distinguishing the various logos, damage reporting and the many other details that surround the importation of tea. All this ensures the authenticity of the tea and the integrity of the audit trail. The pictures here say it all. Impressive, isn't it!