Most tea you buy in the supermarket is grown with monoculture. To keep selling prices as low as possible and profit margins as high as possible, yields are maximised by doing all the processes by machine. However, picking the tea with machines is only possible if there are only tea plants and no other crops. This makes the producing country and its inhabitants particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. The soil becomes exhausted and more and more (artificial) fertilizer is needed to give the same yield. The land is thus literally being drained. The tea brands that grow tea in this way do not notice this themselves. They are mostly Western corporations whose shareholders only look at short-term profits, not at the long-term consequences for the country. Because mass-produced tea is a mixture of blends, the country of origin does not matter. If the farmland is depleted, they will get the tea as a raw material elsewhere.
Dilmah has no shareholders beyond the founder himself and his sons. They can afford to make choices that are not commercially most profitable but are good for the future of the country. By growing tea, Dilmah is combating monoculture and in every way possible and promoting biodiversity. For that reason alone, this tea tastes much better.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity consists of two words. Bio (= life) and diversity (= variation). To promote biodiversity is to enrich all forms of life in a balanced ecosystem.
Humans have a disruptive impact on natural biodiversity but can also restore it. Biodiversity can also help agriculture; for example, bees help pollinate crops and ladybugs help control harmful aphids (by eating them).
How does Dilmah Tea promote biodiversity?
By growing other crops such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric (ingredients for chai tea) among the tea plants, Dilmah prevents the soil from becoming depleted. Dilmah's tea cannot be machine-picked because other crops are growing in between. Dilmah also has a naturalization program; pieces of tea plantation are returned to the jungle in turn. The fauna can therefore return and do its work in the ecosystem.
All in all, Dilmah harvests much less tea per hectare than regular tea plantations, but that is the price Dilmah is willing to pay. In the video below, the founder of Dilmah Tea Merrill J. Fernando explains why nature is so important to him and his family.
Also in his memoir, Merrill says: "It was at the beginning of 2018 that I uprooted tea bushes on Endana Estate to make a Nature Corridor, to strengthen biodiversity in that critical ecosystem - the feeling of contentment has never left me. As tea growers, my family and I have an enduring connection with Nature and we will strive to protect it. As we work on going from carbon neutral to carbon negative by the year 2030, I am reminded of the special connection our Dilmah Tea has with Nature. Through Dilmah Conservation we will continue to demonstrate the importance of genuine commitment to sustainability and advocacy. - Merrill"
Dilmah spends a large part of its profits on Dilmah Conservation. Partly due to Dilmah's efforts for biodiversity, new and endangered species have been (re)found in Sri Lanka, such as the Dilmah frog. The frog was named after Dilmah because of its commitment to conservation.
Sri Lanka Business and Biodiversity Platform
In August 2012, the Sri Lanka Business and Biodiversity Platform (SLBBP) was established. Dilmah Tea is one of the initiators of this platform. The SLBBP is committed to promoting biodiversity in business in Sri Lanka. They help companies to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity more broadly. The platform shares knowledge and supports other farmers with sustainable agriculture.
Biodiversity in the Garden
If you would like to create more biodiversity in your garden or balcony, sow flower seeds to attract more bees. If you don't have any flower seeds at home, our Can of Kindness will provide you with 15 bags of tea from our top line as well as a bag of flower seeds. The flower seeds consist of a mix of seeds from which flowers are produced that attract bees.
If you would like to have your own vegetable garden, think of a square meter vegetable garden. In a square meter vegetable garden you plant in boxes of 33x33 cm different fruits and vegetables. If you reserve one or two sections for flowers, you create an ecosystem that makes optimal use of biodiversity at home. After working in your vegetable garden, can you relax with a cup of tea? After using it, don't throw away the leftover tea. The loose tea is a good and natural fertilizer for the crops in your garden. This way, not only you but also your garden will enjoy all the goodness of Dilmah Tea.