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.
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.
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.
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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