Poll a group of young people on their dream jobs, and you’ll be unlikely to find many aspiring tea harvesters.
This spells trouble for a certain valley in South Korea, where organic, premium quality tea making has been the region’s lifeblood for a millennium. On the slopes of Jiri Mountain, artisan tea makers passed down their trade like sword makers in medieval Japan. But the current generation is more interested in careers in the city than toiling in the tea fields. Many of the valley’s youth are moving to urban centers and air-conditioned skyscrapers, leaving a gap in the valley’s workforce and putting the region’s future at risk. And yet with sales in organic tea rising around the globe, this eager generation might be leaving at just the wrong time.
“Do you see any livestock here? There are no cows, no pigs, no chickens farmed in the valley. This is the cleanest valley in Korea,” says Jong-gyun Kim, c.e.o. of Dong Cheon Tea, explaining what makes Hadong such a mecca for premium hand-made tea. With no livestock in the valley and a ban on pesticides, this is organic farming at its purest.
All of Wooree Tea's come from the Jiri Mountain region, farmed by the same family for three generations.
To read more of Josh Doyle's article head over to https://stir-tea-coffee.com/features/where-have-all-the-tea-makers-gone/