The Hill Tribe peoples of Thailand all located throughout the country, with many situated in the North. They live in villages where they farm crops (mostly rice), raise some animals, and make clothes and other handicrafts to sell to tourists who visit or in major cities. The Hill Tribe culture has been a vibrant part of Thailand for many years. Recently though, these Hill Tribe villages have been targets of fundamental religious groups, and others trying to move them away from their chosen lifestyle. Many of these villages have little to no electricity, and water is usually an issue. Instead of trying to help solve these issues, there are too many outside groups trying to bring them into the modern age, which is not what the Hill Tribes want.
Tea growing and harvesting has been a big help to many of these villages. The tea that Love Some Tea uses is naturally grown and the hill tribe farmers tend to the tea and harvest it when ready. The farmers are paid more than a live-able wage by Love Some Tea which allows them to remain on their land and live their lives according to their tribe’s customs and cultures. This natural tea was brought to Thailand in 1980, as alternative to Hill Tribe Farmers harvesting poppy seeds for the drug trade.
Thailand owes its early withdrawal from opium cultivation to King Khumibol Adulyadej Rama lX… King Bhumibol recognized at an early stage that it was useless to try and fight the opium trade. He knew he had to replace the opium trade with another cash crop. The higher altitudes of Northern west Thailand where a native to Thai tea variety already growing. This tea was in the form of wild tea tree’s.
On the initiative of the Royal Development Project, experts from Taiwan were consulted to identify the Taiwanese Oolong tea cultivars most appropriate for the cultivation on the slopes of north-west Thailand’s mountains. Then, these cultivars, the Jin Xuan Oolong Nr. 12 and the Ruan Zhi Oolong Nr. 17 were imported and given to local farmers willing to shift to the cultivation of tea.
Many of the people living in the ethnic melting pot North Thailand, originating from regions in China and Tibet, remembered and picked up on their own tea culture and tradition, this making the initiative falling on very fertile soi and giving momentum to a development that would eventually gain Thai tea a mark on the world map of tea.
Many of these people where from Burma and China. That is the origin of the Lahu and Mhong tribes. The region now produces over 200 tons annually all picked by hand.