Paline, pronounced ‘pa laɪ’ is one of two brands for the snack-like fermented tea manufactured by Yathar Wathi Co., Ltd. The sister brand, Shan Shwe Taung, has been a bestselling ready-to-eat snack for 20 years in Myanmar, the world’s only country where people enjoy eating – rather than drinking – tea.
The young married owners of Yathar Wathi both have a brilliant sustainability mindset, and so launched Paline in 2017 with the aim of presenting the unique tea-eating culture of Myanmar to the world.
Myo and Yupar put all of their efforts into sharing the heritage of Myanmar tea food culture through lovingly-handcrafted bottles of ‘Sesame Tea Pickles’ with 100% EU and USDA Organic certified ingredients.
Primarily, Yathar Wathi has operated as a traditional tea processing and warehousing firm for several decades. In 2018, the family business was incorporated as Yatha Wathi Co., Ltd., with a vision for “Presence of Myanmar brands as internationally acceptable products”. By 2020 – the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has already employed and secured more than 450 employees, with a majority of young women for the leading domestic market of fermented tea.”
“We decided to put great efforts into product development after our first time exhibition at the BioFach Organic Food Fair 2020. We worked really hard to get our products certified as 100% organic for EU and USA and for GMP and HACCP, with the development support of Helvetas.”
Helvetas is so strong on promoting human dignity through securing lives in sustainable environments. Specifically, the Regional BioTrade project of Southeast Asia implemented by Helvetas in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam guides the local businesses to achieve fair, equitable and inclusive business models by setting up ethically sourced natural ingredient value chains.
Through the Market System Development partnership with Helvetas after mid-2018, Yathar Wathi has succeeded with internationally recognized sustainability standards and certifications within two years. As a pioneering milestone in 2019 – not only for the company but also for the Myanmar tea sector – Yathar Wathi founded a medium-scale farmgate processing plant to directly source the highest quality fresh tea leaves from small producers living in Ah Le Chaung and Mya Zeti villages of Ywar Ngan Township, Southern Shan State. It is located in the mountainous Da-Nu ethnic self-administered region and dwellings for more than three ethnic communities and rich resources of biodiversity. The achievement was so exciting because of enthusiastic collaborations with 250+ organic tea producers, as the well-trained organic farmer groups.
As a ready-to-eat product, Paline has to secure the product quality control beginning from the upstream of the value chain. When setting up the farm-level processing plant, Yathar Wathi was responsible for delivering training to the local people such as organic, GMP, HACCP hygienic practices, as well as providing the machinery infrastructure, technology education and, lastly but most essentially, the reliable market opportunities. The farmers group took shared responsibility for provision of communal land and raw building for the factory operations. In the past, tea farmers would process their raw harvest in their house premises under primitive conditions and bring and sell their produce to the local markets around.
As seen in the pictures here, the company’s sourcing region is flourishing with breathtaking natural forests in mountain ranges that retain rich biodiversity frontiers of South East Asia.
The extraordinarily tasty Shan tea originates from these nature-rich regions of Shan State, proving that Myanmar, formerly known as ‘Burma’, had undoubtedly attributed the glorious spread of tea, both Camelia sinensis and C. assamica from its origins to all over the world.”
“The biggest benefit of taking part in the BioTrade project is empowering our mindset that a fair, equitable and biodiversity-focused business model does not conflict with any business interest. This means the local people and the native ecosystems must be sustainably harmonized and equally beneficial. Our indigenous communities are a very vital resource for human capital, cultural, and traditional knowledge to the sustainability of our business model.”