The whole world knows that the summer in Yakutia is very short. It is this feature that gives our northern land a special attraction and appeal.

In addition to minerals, we also have biological, equally useful resources that we have not yet learned to pay attention to. This is a niche of environmentally friendly wild plants. The market of wild plants and nurseries in Yakutia has great potential.

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Today, our guide to the prospects of Yakutia in this market is the owner of the Sakha Tea trademark Nurguyana Zamorshchikova.

When they talk about the Yakut tea, it causes me a cognitive dissonance. Does tea tree grow in Yakutia? This dumb question is the starting point to the world of Yakut tea. Of course, we are talking about the rosebay.

“No, it's not tea, but grass. It’s bought by grandmothers at the pharmacy and, probably, fitness babes,” that's what a future owner of the Sakha Tea trademark thought when she heard about this plant.

Indeed, rosebay, otherwise Koporsky tea (drink from fireweed), appeared in Russia in the 12th century in the village of Koporye, and, in fact, is herbal tea. Koporsky tea resembled black Chinese tea both in appearance and taste. Because of this similarity and its modest price - from one to three rubles in silver per pound, and a hundred times more for Chinese tea - “koporka” (Koporsky tea) was widely used to falsify real tea. Over time, it has lost its popularity.

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- Nurguyana, and why ivan-tea (rose bay) after all?  The Yakuts have many other herbal infusions, some of which are very tasty.

- We became interested in ivan-tea in 2015 on the back of rise in the dollar against the ruble. This was a confluence of circumstances that occurred in our lives for good reason. I then just studied what kind of tea it was, which is not tea at all. It turned out that in Russia many manufacturers began to make herbal teas based on ivan tea, and we decided that it would be nice to do this in Yakutia. Today in Russia there are more than 150 producers of willow tea, in 2018 the Union of willow tea producers was registered, the founders of which are the 10 largest companies in the country, among which is Sakha Tea. Yakutia is not just a large and ecologically clean region, but northern. As it turned out, the further north a plant grows, the more it absorbs more nutrients and has better taste. So, we just completely immersed in this business. Today, apart from craft manufacturers of willow-tea, we are the only manufacturers in Yakutia. Our Ivan tea is sold in stores across Russia, and we are ready to provide support if someone also wants to do this in Yakutia.

If we talk about the assortment, then we have 40 varieties of tea, of which only a portion is on sale. Yakut scientists have developed these blends for us, because you just cannot simply to combine plants into one product. And we are ready to consider other recipes that our ancestors had, but only after approval by scientists.

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- And what is a demand for Yakut tea in Russia?

- There is a demand for our products now, and I understand that this, as they say now, is hype. And so that the demand does not subside, we must do a lot of work to make a competitive product. We hope that with the increase in volumes we will be able to reduce the production cost. We have yet to develop, the whole life is before us. Over time, we will make high-quality packaging of our products, and we will probably grow to packaged teas, why not? And we are ready to declare to the whole world: our brand is Yakut tea. Today, businessmen not only in Russia, but also abroad become interested in our tea, so Yakutia needs other manufacturers as well. We can position our tea by analogy with high-mountain teas and secure the title of the “northernmost” one.

According to the results of tea-testing among the producers of Ivan tea, the ‘Ounce’ (Russian full service wholesaler and retailer of fine tea and coffee products) chose our semi-fermented green tea. And since the end of 2017, it is being sold in 78 stores throughout Russia.

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- And what about the global market?

- Today, with the support of the Ounce, our products are sold in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Finland and Kazakhstan. It is for sale as a Yakut Ivan Tea.

With the support of the Russian Export Center, on behalf of all the producers of willow-tea in Russia, we presented our willow-tea in Japan. There we managed to interest “Japan Green Tea” - a large company with a large network of stores around the world. But the Japanese, before starting cooperation, will only study us for several years. They will come, see where the blend is made, what kind of ecology there is, how we harvest and pack them. And if they agree to cooperate with us, it will be work for the whole of our Union, not only for us. Taking the opportunity, we invited the director of the company to the Ysyakh Festival this year.

And when we entered the Russian market, the Germans noticed us. They are the leaders in blending in the tea market. But they were not interested in us, but in the ingredients of our blends.

These facts suggest that the market of wild plants and nurseries in Yakutia has great potential. Therefore, I believe that competent packaging of products will make a high mark-up possible in order to profitably sell them abroad, and the “Made in Yakutia” brand will have its own path of great prospects.

Andrey SHILOV

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