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At Rishi Tea & Botanicals, we are honored to offer many products from the pristine growing region of Patagonian Chile. The land referred to as Patagonia in Chile, with boundaries from the Araucanía region down to the extreme tip of the country, is an isolated safe-haven, with great biodiversity and highly specialized plants that propagate in this beautiful area. This expanse has volatile weather and a challenging climate which requires plants to adapt to survive.
The views in Chilean Patagonia are breathtaking. The communes have many lakes, volcanos, and forests to survey, many of which were captured by our team during their journey. In this season, domestic tourists visit to enjoy the termas (hot springs) and regional fare. The buyers took almost every form of transportation to traverse this territory from airplanes to cars, and boats and ferries. Though many of the main roads are paved, when foraging for produce, dirt roads must be taken to lead to the dense forests sites. During their travels, the team ate well, including wild Patagonian salmon, fresh eggs from chickens every morning, ripe paltas (Chilean avocados), and maqui berry tea. We source two main components of many blends from the Chilean Patagonia territory: Murta and Maqui Berries. Murta and maqui Berries are organically-certified wild-harvest goods that require foraging to procure. These crops do not grow well in cultivated plantations. We work with collectors, who in turn work with regional landowners to pinpoint where these fruits are growing.

Murta

Maqui Berries

What is Maqui?

The maqui berry harvest typically happens in mid-February—give or take a few weeks on either side, depending on weather. The general growing area for the maqui berry is a relatively straight line north to south, from Los Ángeles down to Coyhaique. Surprisingly, the elevation where Rishi sources the maqui is rather low—500 ft above sea level. Maqui is also known as the Chilean or Patagonian wine berry. Historically, maqui berries have been consumed by the indigenous people in Patagonia and have a reputation as an invigorating berry, promoting longevity. Locally, maqui is fermented into a wine, sun-dried to make tea, or made into jams and syrups. Recent research about maqui targets its effects to lower LDL cholesterol, increase metabolism, reduce fat, and support detoxification of the liver. The antioxidants in maqui are associated with anti-aging as well. Maqui Berries have a higher antioxidant value than pomegranate, acai, and blueberry, measured as ORAC value.
On the tree, the maqui fruit begins as a bright, red berry and deepens to a deep purple. Our supplier employs BRIX testing to ensure the sweetness and the maturity of the fruit is at the proper level before harvesting. This guarantees the final product is delicious and none of the berries will go to waste. After harvesting, this fresh lot will go into our production around April or May. An important aspect of the organic certification includes cutting and handling the trees properly. Any modern techniques or manipulation is prohibited and will cause the certifying group to intervene if those methods are used. Though the harvesting of the berries is not the most romantic technique, it is true to historical practice. An imperative part of the harvest is to leave 30% of the berries intact on the tree so regeneration is possible. The team of foragers travel out to the wild forests with tarps, while men mindfully select and break branches off of the trees, women beat the berries off of the branches with sticks. Once this process is complete, the berries and remaining leaves are placed into a sifter to remove the leaves from the berries. A refrigerated truck delivers the berries to be processed for export.
Maqui Berries Growing in the Wild Patagonia Landscape
Harvested Wild Maqui Berries
Rishi’s New Sparkling Botanicals Flavor Patagonia Maqui that utilizes these unique ingredients.
This entire region is teeming with biodiversity, and the team noted the amazing vegetation during their travels. Growing wild in this beautiful region are elderberries, michay (a type of barberry), and murta. Elderberries and michay have been studied by scientists for their numerous benefits when consumed medicinally. Though the murta, or wild guava, was not ready to be harvested, our team was still able to see the plants out in the forests. Typically, the harvest season for murta is in April, also depending on weather.
Elderberry Blossoms
Murta or Chilean Guava
Murta is commonly referred to as Chilean guava and is an evergreen shrub native to Patagonia. Historically, the Mapuche Indians used murta for a variety of ailments including ulcers and inflammation. Locally, murta is used it for preserves or jams called murtilla (like membrillo) or teas. Tradition calls for the use of leaves for tea. To provide more insight to how the locals today utilize this traditional knowledge, one of our producers in Chile shared a story about the efficacy of this type of tea. He said his mother is now old and was having issues with her legs. Once she began drinking the tea, her leg issues cleared up and even became smooth again. Essentially, the touted benefits of leaves increase blood circulation and detoxification. We are so grateful for the opportunity to travel and share our stories from this pristine expanse, and we hope you are able to enjoy some of our tea blends and beverages that include these amazing superfruits. During this trip, our buyers shared one of the six flavors of our new line of ready to drink beverages called Sparkling Botanicals with the producers and foragers called Patagonia Maqui. This amazing sparkling profile is made using all organic ingredients including maqui berries, forest berries, red wine grape skins, and rooibos. They were huge fans of the product and fascinated by the unique use of their foraged berries. Visit www.sparkling-botanicals.com for more information about Sparkling Botanicals by Rishi.

Our Travel Journal

Rishi Tea and Botanical's practice of direct trade is defined by personal relationships with tea and herb growers around the world.  Follow along as our team of buyers travels extensively each year to follow the peak harvests and selects the very best micro-lots just days after production.

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