Hill Tribe People
WHO ARE THE HILL TRIBE PEOPLE?
The Hill Tribe peoples are located throughout Thailand, but most of them reside in the northern areas of the country. They live in farming villages where they grow crops such as rice, and raise animals. They also make clothes and other handicrafts to sell to tourists who visit, or at markets in major cities. For many years, the Hill Tribe culture has been a vibrant part of Thailand. However, in recent years, these Hill Tribe villages have been targets of fundamental religious groups and others who try to coerce them away from their culture and lifestyle. Many of these villages have little to no electricity; water supplies are a consistent concern.
The growing and harvesting of tea has proved to be a tremendous help to many of these villages. This natural tea was brought to Thailand in 1980 as an alternative to Hill Tribe Farmers harvesting poppy seeds to make heroine for the drug trade. The tea that Love Some Tea uses is naturally grown; the Hill Tribe farmers tend to the tea and harvest it when it’s ready. The farmers are paid a substantial living wage by Love Some Tea which allows them to remain on their land, live their lives, and maintain their tribe’s customs and cultures in peace.
Thailand owes its early withdrawal from opium cultivation to His Majesty King Khumibol Adulyadej Rama lX. His Majesty King Bhumibol, who recognized early on that it would be useless to fight the opium trade. He knew the only way to create a better life away from the opium trade was to replace opium with another cash crop. They discovered a plant that already grew naturally in the Northwestern mountains of Thailand: tea from wild tea trees.
After this find, the Royal Development Project was created. Experts from Taiwan were consulted to identify the Taiwanese Oolong tea cultivars most appropriate for the cultivation on the slopes of Thailand’s northwestern mountains. These cultivars, the Jin Xuan Oolong Nr. 12 and the Ruan Zhi Oolong Nr. 17, were then imported and given to local farmers willing to transition from opium to the cultivation of tea.
Many of the people living in the ethnic melting pot of northern Thailand that immigrated from regions in China and Tibet renewed and revived their own tea culture and traditions. This taking of initiative, combined with very fertile soil, gave momentum to a development that eventually gave Thailand a mark on the world map of tea.
The region now produces over two hundred tons of tea annually – and it’s all done by hand.