Revolutionizing tea sourcing: Brook37’s journey to Darjeeling serves as an industry inspiration

Rare, exotic teas require careful handling, shipping and processing to maintain the quality of the teas. Learn more about how to source high-quality teas from the founder of a premium CPG tea brand.

2 Min Read
women harvesting tea in Darjeeling, India
T photography /

At a Glance

  • There are challenges sourcing high-quality, exotic teas in the United States due to the dominance of cheaper alternatives.
  • Brook37 addresses this scarcity by sourcing rare teas directly from growers in India, ensuring freshness and quality control.
  • The company emphasizes the importance of tea leaf grade, handling and packaging, as well as functional ingredients.

High-quality exotic teas can be hard to come by, especially in the United States, a country far removed from locations that grow rare, premium teas.

Darjeeling, India is one such location. According to Mou Dasgupta, founder of Brook37, a CPG tea brand offering rare and exotic teas, Darjeeling is known as “the producer of champagne of the teas.”

Despite this, rare and exotic teas from places like Darjeeling are largely unavailable in the U.S., where “cheap stuff” is in high demand, Dasgupta explained. That’s because maintaining quality of premium teas is a tall order that requires careful handling, shipping and processing.

Brook37 sources rare teas directly from tea growers in India for sale in the U.S.

Selecting the right grade

Tea leaves are graded based on the quality and condition of the leaves. A number of factors can affect how tea leaves are graded. A critical factor is whether the tea leaves are broken and ground, and to what extent, according to Dasgupta.

“When the teas leaves break, it loses its quality, and it’s not as good,” she said.

In standard tea processing, the tea leaves are ground to different sizes. The finest grind, called “dust” or “fanning,” is often used in tea bags and provides robust flavor and a quick brew, giving it appeal for convenience.

Full leaves, on the other hand, retain “the quality of the flavor profile,” Dasgupta said, an important distinction for rare, premium teas.

tea leaves

Managing exposure to light, air

Importantly, full tea leaves have to be handled with care during packaging and shipping to ensure the tea leaves remain intact. Per Dasgupta, buying small batches of larger leaves means less opportunity for the leaves to be repackaged for distribution.

Brook37 teas are only opened once after they’re picked to pack them, she said.

“However, when you’re purchasing larger quantity of the smaller leaves … they are smaller in size and then they are auctioned, and then when they’re auctioned, they [go] through different hands,” Dasgupta explained. “A lot of people [in the U.S.] are buying from the distributors and they are breaking the packages, and they are selling in smaller quantities to others.”

This affects quality by increasing exposure to air and light. “Tea loses its quality with air and light,” she said. “Every time you open a bag, it loses its quality.”

Considering function

Brook37’s functional, premium teas span a range of consumer needs, from inflammation reduction to hangover relief to energy.

“There are a lot of ingredients that we have in the tea that are very thoughtfully chosen to help the health concerns,” Dasgupta said. “Above and beyond all of this, we think it’s a great beverage to drink.”

She pointed to such ingredients as ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), turmeric (Curcuma longa) and ginger (Zingiber officinale), as well as exclusive teas from Darjeeling, India.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing writer

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

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