Rare Teas sells the best and most exclusive single-origin teas you can find, grown in Nepal and China. Tea is bought directly from the farmers with no middle-man and we ensure that the farmers both receive a fair price and pay their workers fairly. This is better than "Fair Trade" as we know the farmers personally and so can check on them every time we go to buy their tea.
Nepal is not one of the world's better-known countries for growing tea - although it's up-and-coming! - but what it does grow is generally of very best quality, easily the equal of those from China and India. Many of the teas that we sell - such as Nepal Silver Tips - are only available in very small quantities as they are the very small growing tips of the tea bushes.
Nepal is adjacent to the area of India where Darjeeling teas are grown and so it is no surprise that many Nepalese teas are reminiscent of Darjeeling, whilst generally being subtler, less "in-your-face" and with a rather more complex flavour.
To the best of our knowledge, none of our teas are subject to any kind of chemical processing.
We do not label our teas as "organic" as, in this part of the world, the whole certification process is, shall we say, "problematic".
There are several organisations active in Nepal offering "organic certification", some foreign-based. With the latter, you may find that a product is labelled "organic" as a result of the organisation occasionally sending someone to inspect a farm, etc., and these certifications are not endorsed by the Nepalese government. To be candid, we do not have great faith, even in the local organisations, due to the nature of Nepalese government.
There is, however, a strong commitment in Nepal to agriculture in general being socially and environmentally sustainable. The government has issues instructions that no artificial fertilisers not chemical insect sprays be used on any tea farms (amongst others). Also, most farmers cannot afford the chemical products needed for Western-style agriculture, which is why they stick to traditional methods anyway. E.g., one of our favourite farmers only uses the dung from cows and buffalo as manure. Ground "tite pati" (Artemisia) or "neem patta" (Curry leaves) and diluted urine from the same animals is the only insecticidal spray used! (This is one of the reasons for washing the leaves with a little hot water before adding the water for actually making the infusion.)
Regarding Chinese teas, it's hard to have confidence in organic certification and so we try to check however we can. This sometimes includes our suppliers having laboratory tests done on tea samples to assure the absence of undesirable substances, e.g., synthetic pest control agents.