The baskets for collecting the tea leaves in the Araksa Tea Garden
The Araksa Tea Garden is located in the middle of the rainforest in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After passing through hidden roads, watching incredible nature on the journey, a peaceful garden appears in front of us. One of the finest and most delicious organic tea in Thailand grows there. Araksa Tea Garden is one of the most peaceful places on earth. Surrounded by the jungle, this is one of the best places to grow organic tea in a sustainable way.
Tea is very important for Asian cultures (and nowadays, for the whole world). Some tea can be a great natural source of energy, and others can be the perfect pacifier before sleeping. Several research and scientific evidence prove that tea has lots of benefits for health, it helps to slow down aging, and it even helps to prevent cancer!
The Araksa Tea Garden
As supporters of a healthy and natural living style, tea is also important in our lives. When Asian Oasis kindly offered us a tour through the Araksa tea garden, we didn’t think twice to accept the invitation and learn about the process of how the tea arrives in our cups!
The Araksa tea garden is one of the oldest in the Baan Chang district, and it’s not its age for what it sparks, but because its amazing philosophy focused on the preservation and conservation of the environment, and the culture that gives this land that unique northern Thai presence.
The garden grow, harvest and produce 9 varieties of tea (that we will show you later) all this in the most sustainable way possible!
The tea growing
The plantation area is surrounded by banana trees and bamboo that creates a natural buffer zone against any toxin in the air avoiding artificial protection. Lemongrass can be found around all the tea bushes and around the plantation in general, because this plant is natural pest control. Like that, the use of artificial (and harmful) pesticides can be avoided, giving also purity to the tea.
Another of the noblest details of the plantation is the disposition of the tea bushes. In a normal agriculture field, you usually find the plants located in straight lines on soil that was “prepared” to create an organized disposition. This “preparation” means that the field is destroyed, the trees are ripped off from the land and the other plant species put apart.
Although, in Araksa, the bushes grow in multiple positions around the natural track of the land. And even if the rapidly growing demand for their excellent quality tea makes them plant more and more tea bushes, the farmers and technicians locate the newborn plants around the trees and the natural shape of the land.
Organic tea harvesting and social responsibility in Thailand
The tea of Araksa is pure art craft because of the way of the picking and the harvesting. Even if the company has high demand around Thailand and they have strong production, the tea is handpicked avoiding the use of machinery, this means much less energy waste and a better selection of the leaves.
But who are the employees of Araksa tea garden? People are the start of every good company, and the garden achieves to do this vital work by employing local people and preparing them with new skills, knowledge, and technique. The soul of Araksa are a mix of good people from the Akka Tribe, Hmong Tribe, Lisu Tribe, and local Thai people.
Charlie explaining the process of tea planting
Production and qualiTEA
The tea produced in the Araksa garden comes from a plant called Assam. Even if it is growing perfectly in the weather of this region, the origin of the plant is further to the north, better said, in the rainforest of Central China, and Mongolia Plateau.
Every little new sprout of tea takes two years in the nursery before being ready for the fields, after that, the staff can plant the sprouts on the fields and wait longer before starting to harvest the tea. It will take approximately 10 years before a new bush will flower and give seeds! It’s a process that requires a lot of passion and patience.
These parts of the process are manual in the Araksa tea garden: planting, harvesting, kneading. The team keeps the process the most handmade possible to get a unique flavor and aroma.
The Tea Making Process
During our visit to the garden, we got the chance to make a great combined tour that allowed us to be part of the process of tea making.
Charlie, our kind tour guide explained to us step by step and made us participate in the process of making organic tea.
1. Tea picking
The first step in the process: the way of the handpicking of the tea leaves will define the end result.
Did you know that the white, green and black tea come from the same Assan plant? We didn’t know either! The color, flavor, and aroma depend on how much of the sprout is taken.
- A long part of the stem and the leaves are taken. The steam is filled with caffeine, and the leaves give a dark color, that is why black tea acts as a perfect energizing drink in the morning.
- Just the tip of the steam and one leaf is taken. The only leaf is for giving a light color and the short steam provides a low level of caffeine. This is the perfect tea for the evening, it is full of antioxidants, vitamins and it helps to prevent cancer and other illnesses, reduces the fat of the body, it is a natural antiaging, and regulates blood pressure. It is a good drink, period ?
- Just the tip of the steam without leaves. This is the softest tea. The low level of caffeine doesn’t mean a problem for sleeping, so it is perfect for dinner and for children. The absence of leaves also creates a light, almost transparent color.
It’s necessary to say, that the white tea from Araksa tea garden is particularly special, due to the plant and style of harvesting and roasting. It has also two variations:
- Arun white tea: It’s picked before sunrise when the tip of the sprout is still closed and haven’t received sun and have been exposed to moisture during the hours of the night.
- Sayun white tea: It’s picked just after sunset when the tip of the sprout closes again after receiving the sunlight the whole day.
This variation in the light and moisture received just in a period of some hours change the flavor and the aroma enough to be classified in 2 different varieties! That is incredible!
Weighing the tea leaves with Charlie - it has to be at least 600 gramm
2. Tea dehydration
After picking up the tea, the next step is drying it. In the case of the green tea, that is pretty quick. The personal of the garden takes the fresh-picked tea and puts it inside of a big wong. After that, with the help of two big spoons, the tea leaves are mixed inside to lose moisture. This process takes about 5 minutes until the moisture goes away.
Although, for black tea, the process is longer. It takes 16 hours to dry the stems with leaves in an electrical dryer.
3. Tea kneading
Once that the tea is dry, it’s the time for kneading. This process is totally made by hand, like that, the tea can liberate more oils and aroma than in a conventional machine.
The kneading also helps to eliminate more tracks of moisture that could be still inside the steam and the leaves.
4. Tea roasting
From all the processes, roasting is the only one made in a machine and that just for big lots.
The roasting of the green tea takes up to 45 minutes. For black tea, the time of the roasting defines the sort of the black tea:
- Silk Tea
- Black Tea
- English Breakfast Tea
- Earl Grey Tea
- Thai Tea
Our guide, Charlie even told us that one cup is enough to stay energized the whole day!
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After learning about the organic tea making and being part of this informative process, the time has finally arrived: let’s taste the tea! what our work created!
We went directly to the restaurant and tea house located just in the middle of the tea fields. We need to say that we were very thirsty, and what we found on the table was the best at that moment: two glasses of black iced tea, even the ice cubes were made of tea!
Charlie didn’t stop to mention the strong aroma and flavor of the black tea, and how the first sip would always give you a boost of energy. We indeed felt the kick after tasting it ?
After the fresh tea, the nice crew of the Araksa tea garden served us a spectacular Thai lunch with various typical plates! And what is best after a delicious meal? Of course, more tea! But this time, green and warm, served with some organic rice cookies with honey made by the local community. All the ingredients of the lunch were produced at the local farms.
Lunch and happiness
Lunch and tea at the organic tea garden
Don’t forget to get a box of tea!
After tasting this organic tea, make sure to get some souvenirs as well! In the store you can get various products, different sorts of organic teas produced by the Araksa tea garden.
How to reach the garden?
If you want to have the same experience that we had in the tea garden, you need to reach this amazing place from Chiang Mai city.
Unfortunately, there is no public transport between the city and the gardens. You can either take a tour with transport, (Click here to check out all the tour options!) or get a taxi or a Grab! You can also rent a Grab with a private driver for a whole day. If you’re adventurous, you can also rent a motorbike, but only if you’re an experienced driver!
Grab is like Uber in Thailand, and personally, it was the best option for us, because the fares are fixed and you don’t need to discuss the price with the driver. Although, this app requires a Thai SIM card, you can get one at the airport for a very affordable price.
Our journey for reference (it might change for you, depending on the day and the part of the day):
- 700 Baht / one way + 300 Baht for the waiting time (because the driver waited for us)
Enjoying organic tea at Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai
To have the same experience as us, you need to book a tour! Our tour included the garden tour, tea picking, and lunch. We learnt a lot about growing organic tea in Thailand! This is only one of the four tours offered by Asian Oasis, there are also tours without lunch or tours with transfer from the town included. Click here to check the other tour options and book yours!
We loved to learn about growing organic tea and we enjoyed seeing all the sustainability efforts in the garden! Araksa tea garden is not only producing a healthy, quality product but is also doing it with a process that protects the environment and preserves the balance in nature. It’s also creating a sustainable and ethical workplace and income source for the noble communities of the North region of Thailand!
If you’re planning to visit Thailand and Chiang Mai, you enjoy learning about sustainable gardening and you like to taste quality organic tea, then this tour to the Araksa tea garden is definitely for you!