1. How long have you been working in the world of tea and how did you get into it?
I lived in Germany for long time, 1971-1995. Before I joined PT Harendong Green Farm, I was the IT-Director of a Software Development and Networking Company. In 2005, my partner asked me and some friends to join this company. The family of one of my business partners also have a big tea plantation in China, so he persuaded us also to develop an organic tea farm in Indonesia. In 2005 looked for land to realize our purpose. After a long search, we decided to buy this land where we are now. We imported the tea plants from Taiwan in 2005 and we have maintained and cared for all the plants in our plantation fully compliant with organic certification. The fertile, mountainous land, very mild weather, clean air free from any pollution and fresh water directly from the mountain give the best environments for the tea plants to grow. All these criteria give the unique taste to our tea products, which we cannot find in other place.
The estate was established in 2006 and we developed, built and maintained the plantation organically from the beginning. We planted only the tea type Cammelia Sinensis var. Sinensis in our plantation. In 2010, we started to go to market and have been organic certified by a well-known certification body IMO-Control International, according to EU Organic Regulation , USDA NOP Standards, Canadian Standards and Japanese JAS standard. Now we have also HALAL certification as well. We are going to be certified in near future for Fairtrade, HACCP and non GMO.
2. Have you always been a tea lover?
Yes I love to drink tea, more than coffee. My parents are also tea drinkers, at home they served the kids also tea
3. What is your favourite tea?
I like to drink black tea in the morning. For lunch and in the afternoon I drink green tea and oolong tea. Sometimes I drink also with friends blended tea, fancy tea, fruit tea, herbal tea etc. But my favourite tea is black tea.
4. What do you like best about your job?
Actually I like agriculture. In PT Harendong Green Farm I know that we grow tea organically and we serve our customers organic tea without any poisonous pesticides and this soothes my conscience very much.
5. What is your philosophy as a tea grower?
As a tea grower, I will maintain the balance and provide the best for the environment without any poison by growing the tea plants. For the customer I will give the best organic tea.
6. Describe your plantation (location, native plants, animals etc)
The tea plantation is located at Halimun Mountain in Banten province, west part of Java, Indonesia. Close to the farm we can find Taman Nasional Gunung Halimun – Salak (TNGHS), a national reservation area which is supported by the WWF (World Wild Fund). The plantation area is about 1,000 meters above sea-level. This National Park is one of the biggest in Indonesia and is the habitat for protected animals like the Javan hawk eagle, tiger and the black monkey.
The white building is the factory and close to the factory are the worker's housing and around is the farm. The native plants are Senggani (Melastoma candidum) plants. People living nearby the farm call the plants Harendong; that’s why we take Harendong as the name of our company.
7. What makes your tea special?
The fertile mountainous land, best soil, very mild weather, clean air free from any pollution and fresh water directly from the mountain give the best environment for the tea plants to grow. All these criteria give the unique taste to our tea products, which we cannot find anywhere else.
8. What challenges, if any, does the Indonesian tea industry face?
Indonesia’s tea industry has received oversight by its government over the last few years because the world price of tea has dropped and domestic production has decreased. To accommodate, the government has tried to transform the country’s tea industry, as it has done with other commodities like rubber and palm oil. Years ago, Indonesia was also one of the top five tea producing countries in the world. But now Indonesia is only the seventh.
9. Any plans for the future of your plantation?
The demand for our tea is very big so we must expand our farm. Today we have about 40ha planted with tea trees. We will expand up to 60-70ha in the coming years.