Numi Organic Tea: Where Family, Sustainability, and Quality Blend

By Joanna Burton

After recognizing that most competing brands differed very little from one another in ingredient quality and manufacturing practices, brother and sister duo, Ahmed Rahim and Reem Rahim Hassani, set out to turn a new leaf in the business of tea. Co-founding Numi Organic Tea in 1999, Ahmed and Reem were inspired to connect the American consumer to diverse cultures through the simple art of tea.

Turning A New Leaf

“Many teas on the market are blended or sprayed with “natural” or artificial flavorings, which can disrupt the delicate balance of tea. Numi Organic Tea is committed to keeping it 100% real, only sourcing pure, premium ingredients and crafting tea blends that let nature speak for itself,” says Claire Klein, Western Regional Manager for Numi Organic Tea. Dry Desert Lime, their first tea blend, was a one-ingredient teasan inspired by a tea Ahem and Reem drank as children growing up in the Middle East. Numi uses a fuller leaf quality compared to many other tea brands. Tea leaves have a graded scale according to the size of the leaf, ranging from Super Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (STGFOP, the highest grade) to the smaller fannings of tea leaves, sometimes referred to as dust. Using a higher grade tea leaf size for all of their tea blends, the larger leaves have a greater surface area for steeping. Smaller tea leaves steep quicker, causing the tannins to be released sooner, resulting in a bitter taste, and the need to mask the bitterness with honey or milk. Full leaf teas steep slowly and evenly and deliver a smoother, richer flavor. Using an organic tea with fuller leaf quality and leaving out artificial fragrances, results in a balanced tea with no unnatural after-tastes.

Numi Organic Teas are more than just a nice cup of tea. With a growing foodie culture throughout the world, shifting the tea trend into food recipes infused with the subtle, nuanced flavors of their tea blends seemed a natural step. Many of their tea boxes include recipes inside. Currently, they have more than 125 recipes on their Tea Garden blog, ranging from baked goods and smoothies, to libations and many other options.

A Steep Above The Rest
All Numi Organic Teas are certified organic, but organic agriculture is more than abstaining from the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. Beyond delivering a high-quality product, organic farming preserves the earth’s biodiversity by minimizing pollutants as well as protecting the health of the workers who would come in contact with these potentially harmful chemicals. Organic cultivation is vital for the customer as well. Numi strives to deliver a clean product that customers can trust. The tea leaves are not washed before processing. In fact, the first time their tea leaves come in contact with water is when they are steeped. Pre-washing the leaves can cause them to release the flavors and aromatics prematurely.

Numi Organic Tea strives to set the standard in business when it comes to sustainability, by creating long-lasting partnerships with organic farms around the world, sourcing premium ingredients, and assuring the well-being of their farming partners. The company is committed to reducing the impact on the planet from the farm to your teacup. Sustainability is not only significant concerning farming conditions or water usage, but also in fair labor conditions that protect and support the lives and livelihoods of the farmers. Through thoughtful business choices, including eco-responsible packaging and programs geared to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, Numi raises the bar to create a positive impact on the world.

Celebrating People, Planet and Pure Tea

Numi tea takes this principle further than just organic tea blends; it is their company motto. There are plenty of companies who offer organic tea options, but Numi Tea goes above and beyond when it comes to this concept. Before socially conscious business practices hit the mainstream, Ahmed and Reem were already following their hearts, determined to create a positive impact through their business. Early on they transitioned into sourcing only 100% organic ingredients, as a way to protect the tea pickers from chemicals, as well as to provide a clean product for consumers. In 2004 they transitioned to become Fair Trade Certified. When Fair Trade wasn’t available Numi Tea collaborated to create Fair Labor & Community Benefits Verified, a program focused on labor and workplace conditions in developing regions.

Born out of this concept came the idea for the Numi Foundation, co-founded by Ahmed & Reem in 2012, with a mission to nurture and empower communities. The foundation started in their local community in Oakland, CA, and is deeply committed to bringing the programs and resources to places in the global community. Currently, the program consists of three subcategories: Together for H2OPE, the Numi Curriculum, and the Iraq Summer School. The Numi Foundation’s first initiative, Together for H2OPE: Madagascar, partnered with farmers to bring clean water to over 4,000 men, women, and children across thirteen different villages in Madagascar. Those efforts created twenty-three new wells and sanitation educational programs. Now multiple generations of villagers are experiencing the life-changing transformation that comes with access to clean water. Additional Together for H2OPE programs are now underway in India, South Africa, and Egypt.

It All Comes Back To Family

Numi Organic Tea thinks globally, and they also recognize the value of working with companies that support and promote their ideals. Numi believes that a healthy family business nurtures trust and transparency, kindness and respect. Numi Organic Tea partners with companies like Jordano’s who share their same core values and reflect the same spirit.

A family-owned, and operated business since day one, it is part of Numi Organic Tea’s DNA to keep those meaningful relationships across all aspects of their business. Ahmed travels to remote regions of the world seeking unique ingredients for their tea blends. Reem oversees the brand’s identity, including packaging design. An artist by trade, you can see her original artwork on Numi’s packaging.

With inspiration from their experience as immigrants, their global travels, and their background in the arts, Ahmed and Reem had a vision to create a socially responsible business focused on high-quality, ethically-sourced products. Numi Organic Tea wants to do more than provide a sustainable product for its consumers. It is about the meaningful partnerships based on mutual values and respect. Jordano’s Foodservice has prided ourselves on the same core values since the beginning, and are delighted to bring Numi Organic Tea into our family.

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