Makaibari Tea Estate
- Established in 1859, Makaibari is the oldest garden in Darjeeling
- Elevation - 1500 Meters
- Harvest Season: March - November
- Certified Organic, Biodynamic, and Fair Trade
The Seasonality of the Makaibari Tea Estate
Every year brings us a new season at the Makaibari tea estate, ensuring a brand new selection of inventory for you. While the first and second flush are always available on our site, you’ll also find Silver Tips and Long Leaf Green.
For fans of Makaibari – our teas are guaranteed authentic, straight from our estate, and we will support our genuine products with specific lot numbers, origin details, and harvest nuances. We stand by all our products, so shop our selections with confidence!
Overcoming New Struggles
Since the pandemic started, Makaibari has made many changes to their manufacturing, processing, and shipping methods as we strive to mitigate the effects of significant disruptions to the supply chain. We’re doing our best to bring you new teas every year, even as we experience a lack of vessel space and reduced sailing capacity. While prices are increasing at every stage of the tea-making process, we try hard not to pass on all those increases to you – our customers! You’ll still be able to buy all of our teas, even Makaibari tea, online at prices still lower than at other sites.
As new lots come in from the Makaibari Tea Estate, and the world continues to evolve, we’ll do our best to inform you of additions, substitutions, and news on our Home page, in our blogs, and through our newsletters.
As usual, any leftovers from the previous season's tea are still available in our store at a discount. Shop last season’s Makaibari teas online for less than you ever believed possible! Please keep in mind that we are the only company that clearly distinguishes between seasons. We will not pass off old stock as new – you have our word on it!
Makaibari Tea Manufacturing
The harvest at the Makaibari Tea Estate starts with the first flush in March and continues through the year until the final harvest in November. We celebrate the first day of the season, called “Paila Patti,” with special blessings and gifts. As the harvest continues, we have about 200 women and about 100 men working to pick over 90 acres of tea fields daily. Through their hard work, they can cover the entire farm in just six days! All of the bushes on the Makaibari Tea Estate are harvested once a week, every week, from the beginning of the harvest until its close in the fall.
Once the workers pick the leaves, the rest of the team works together with their families to process the products. The estate employs about 600 workers each year – that’s over half of the 1,100 people who live in the region! Learn more about the Makaibari Tea Estate Manager and our harvesting processes here!
Each year, Makaibari produces Green, Black, Oolong, Silver Tips, and White teas that are graded FTGFOP1S Leaf, TGBOP1 Brokens, and GOF Fannings. We also offer Limited Production teas when ideal conditions present themselves. These specialty teas may include Crystal Flush, Silver Tips Imperial, and Silver Tips Muscatel. We notify you when these Makaibari teas are online through our blog and newsletter.
BBC Travel Gallery
Makaibari Tea Estate is part of many special traditions. The BBC and other news agencies have covered them for excellence in tea. Explore articles and coverage from the BBC today, including: “India's Rare Tea Picked Under a Full Moon,” by Kalpana Prodhan, September 2018
Fair Trade at Makaibari
At Makaibari, we offer a transparent look into our Fair Trade processes. One essential component of Fair Trade practices, called the Joint Body of Workers, meets monthly to prioritize projects submitted by the population that lives near the estate. The Joint Body team is composed of 16 men and women who discuss and evaluate the best way to apportion funds and keep all the accounts up to date! Some other responsibilities of the Makaibari Tea Estate Joint Body include:
- Developing sustainable agriculture
- Teaching sustainability skills
- Promoting education
- Providing specialized medical care for the community
- Helping the community develop other skills, like animal husbandry
- Hosting workshops for family welfare, childcare, nutrition, and sanitation
- Funding and furthering grassroots projects in the region
Joint Body Loans & Projects at Makaibari Tea Estate
Funding entrepreneurial projects in the region is one of the most important missions for the Makaibari Joint Body. Over the years, we’ve had hundreds of approved and implemented submissions throughout the community – some even reaching out into neighboring regions. The process ensures the applications they receive each week are evaluated on a monthly basis. They prioritize projects based on need and provide loans for those that are approved.
Most loans average just a few hundred dollars, but they have funded much larger projects as needed. They strive to ensure that their loan rates are fair and equitable, and most of them establish a two-year repayment period with a maximum interest of 5%. Any medical or educational loans are completely interest-free! Throughout their history providing these loans, they have never had anyone default!
Many of the loans provided by the Makaibari Tea Estate tackle essential needs in the community. From sanitation improvements and potable water deployment to social ceremonies and vaccine purchases, they cover a wide range of community growth with Makaibari tea online sales. Your purchases of Fair Trade Tea help fund important projects like:
- Specialized Medical Programs
- Livestock Purchases
- Funding Higher Education
- House Improvements
- Computer Training
- Community Gardens
Some specific projects that we’re particularly proud of include the building of 'samaj ghars' (small community centers), giving new Tiffin Boxes to all workers, granting stipends to all senior school students, providing loans to purchase dairy cows, granting monetary aid to cancer patients, and educating the community about the brand new Herbal Unit that promotes naturopathy and local herbal medicine.
The Learning Center
One of the biggest projects funded by the Makaibari Tea Estate was the learning center. Inaugurated with 1600 books, they created a learning center that functions as a library. With a card index system, cataloged books, and simple guidelines, both children and adults in the community can use the computers, check out books, and enjoy the childcare nursery on the bottom floor. Any Fair Trade Tea you buy from our store directly funds this comprehensive learning and care center, as well as the well-being of the people who live and work there.
Awards and Accolades
Makaibari Tea Estate has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including:
- Certified biodynamic by Demeter since 1991
- Certified as Fair Trade since 1992
- Certified organic since 1988
- Award-winning varieties, like Silver Tips, that break auction records
- Sustainability through biogas units that eliminate the need for cutting down forests for firewood.
- Ensuring the estate creates environmental benefits that far exceed those mandated by the government, like biodynamic gardening techniques.
- Pioneering women’s participation in management, planning, and strategy throughout the company.
- Introducing permaculture in 1975 with indigenous fruit trees, vegetation, ground creepers, leguminous shade trees, forests, and finally – tea.
- Awarded the Organic Food Award for the Demeter Darjeeling Tea Makaibari from Britain’s SOIL Association.
- Total integration with the forest and its living creatures for a holistic farming environment through a Joint Forest Management Application.
- Record-breaking price for an Indian tea at auction, earning us $1850/kg. for Makaibari Silver Tips Imperial.
- The World Wildlife Fund considered Makaibari for a Gift of the Earth designation from its Living Planet Campaign for the introduction of integrated forest management.
If you love what you’ve learned about their harvesting methods, Fair Trade practices, and innovative farming solutions, shop Makaibari teas online to keep supporting this important work!