Local Company Numi is a Greenista’s Cup of Tea


Who would’ve thought a calming oasis exists right off a busy freeway in Oakland. Amidst warehouses and concrete buildings lie the headquarters and tasting room of local tea company Numi. Founded in 1999 and run by brother-and-sister duo Ahmed and Reem, the inspiration for Numi was driven by their passion for tea, which included fond memories of a cultural tradition of drinking a dry desert lime tea as children, and the need to tap into their creative spirits.   From the unique mixtures (green tea and brown rice, black tea and vanilla) to the artwork for the packaging (Ahmed takes pictures that Reem transforms into art), the homegrown business is leaving its mark on the tea scene.

From a photo concept to artwork to the final packaging

Housed in a former cotton mill with intact caverns still winding their way underground, the company is one of the top three importers of fair-trade product in North America.  With tea leaves coming from all over – Rooibos from Africa, Puerh from China and Chamomile from Egypt, to name a few – Numi’s conscientious business model not only brings quality, organic tea to customers, but also ensures that tea farmers are paid a livable wage 30-40% higher than what they receive from tea traders.

Numi’s twist on the triple bottom line objective – People, Planet and Pure Tea – isn’t fancy green marketing speak.  It’s real, and one of the best examples of a sustainable business I’ve come across.  Numi sources organic, fair-trade tea leaves that are of the highest quality, which is possible as the quality control department visits suppliers frequently.  Since the company doesn’t do business with traders, there’s no guessing game as to where the product comes from.   Numi knows it has the coveted leaves and buds in its tea bags.

Ahmed and Reem, Courtesy of www.Numi.com

It doesn’t stop there.  Numi also does not use any oils or flavorings in its product lines.  I didn’t even know this was a common practice until I checked the ingredients of the mainstream tea I had lying around.  Sure enough, there were natural flavors, oils and even dyes listed on the package.  That tea was promptly composted.

Numi’s green consciousness also extends to its packaging (100% recycled material, soy ink-based, no cellulose plastic – it’s even GMO-free) and its support of local communitea organizations.  If you haven’t guessed by now, this company is undoubtedly my cup of tea.  I’ll be posting a review of my favorite Numi teas later in the week, so get ready to start brewing!

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  1. […] to learn more about Numi? Check out my recent article on the company’s impressive sustainable and fair-trade business […]

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