At BTC we care deeply about sustainable tea agriculture. The environment. Protecting wildlife impacted by human activity.
Mountain gorillas. Living wild in a small mountainous area - the Virunga Mountains - straddling Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. A tea growing region. These gentle giants are our second passion.
BTC donates a minimum 20 cents for every tea tin/pouch sold to mountain gorilla conservation, through Fauna & Flora International, the world's longest established international conservation organisation.
Majestic silverback mountain gorilla munching on bamboo - photographed by Tony in 1999. Tony was awestruck when encountering gorillas in the wild on his first 'gorilla trek' in the Volcanoes National Park in north western Rwanda in the 1990's.
Tony Laurent, our founder, has lived in Asia and Africa for 25 years , since first moving from Melbourne to India and Japan as a young boy. Rural landscapes in the Indian subcontinent and Africa in the 1960's and 1970's were still dominated by indigenous forests.
But over the last 20 years Tony has seen massive deforestation in Sumatra, Java, Vietnam, China, India, and Eastern Africa.
Tony motorcycled 4,500 km across the interior of Africa in 1992/93 with 3 friends, visiting many tea plantations on the route. The continuous expanse of indigenous forest in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa was breathtaking. The unspoilt hinterland. 8 years later Tony returned to live in Africa, and many of the landscapes were unrecognisable.
In 1992 there remained a lot of indigenous forest in Tanzania - as seen here at the entry to the Lugoda Tea Estate in Mufindi - but it was already being cut down voraciously in neighbouring Kenya.
The impact of deforestation on indigenous fauna has also been significant - no surprise. So when Tony decided from the outset that Bespoke Tea Company would support a heartfelt cause, it was an easy choice. Conservation. Mountain gorillas. He had been captivated by them when trekking the Rwanda Congo border area in 1999. In 2010/11 Tony again returned to live and work in Africa - Rwanda - and spent much time at tea estates in the north west, on the edge of the Virungas gorilla habitat. He was again captivated by the gorillas.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the longest established international conservation body in the world, co-founded the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) in 1991. Now a partnership between FFI and WWF, IGCP serves to protect mountain gorillas and their habitat.
FFI were established in 1903. The staff are truly dedicated and passionate. 85% of funds reach the field - this is a very lean and efficient non profit organisation. Vice Presidents of FFI include conservation leaders such as Sir David Attenborough and David Bellamy.
The wild mountain gorilla population had fallen to 250, but now the figure is closing in on 1,000. The conservation work has been very successful. But it needs to be continued. Apart from the donations you make indirectly by purchasing Bespoke Tea Company teas, you can make direct donations to FFI via their local website at:
Not only does the FFI support mountain gorilla conservation, but they also have many other conservation - flora and fauna - projects around the planet.
" If you can, please do help the mountain gorillas and other conservation projects in the tea growing regions by financially supporting FFI. The funds will be very carefully spent, for the good of our planet, and our children's planet. Thank you, Tony "
Tony driving from Limbe to Kavuzi Tea Estate in Malawi in 1987. The unsecured Mozambique/Malawi border road. The Mozambique Civil War (1977-92) ravaged flora, fauna and the local population. Tony saw the results again first hand when motorcycling across Tete Province in Mozambique 5 years later
. Ongoing wars in the Congo since 1996 have had the same affect. The mountain gorillas often being the innocent victims of human conflict and greed.