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Our Principles

Always without flavourings. Always without artificial additives. Always organic.

Exceptional origins. Exceptional tea varieties. Unfortunately tea does not grow in Germany, but these teas come from selected regions and – depending on the harvesting time – they may well vary in taste but certainly not in quality. You may therefore find that the colour of your brew is occasionally somewhat lighter, sometimes a little darker. This is an unorthodox feature which is due to the consistent regional and seasonal nature of our products. We guarantee: you will in any case enjoy the taste.

We work without flavourings and promote: „Free your taste“.

If you see “all-natural” added to the names of our teas, this is not just another standard advertising slogan. We really mean it.

Teas that we have developed for you without flavouring will be among those that you have previously encountered with flavourings. In our teas, we also avoid any natural flavouring or so-called “fruit oils” (which in fact are also nothing less than flavourings).

We don’t wish to condemn the addition of flavourings or oils amongst other producers but we consciously avoid adding them. Our all-natural and in some cases hand-picked teas and ingredients for our tea specialities come from controlled organic farming. We have been certified to this effect by the Gesellschaft für Ressourcenschutz, a control body in Göttingen with the code number DE-ÖKO-039.

What develops within our recipes is nothing more and nothing less than the natural taste of fruit, herbs and tea. You can taste it.

This restricts the number of varieties we can offer, because recipes like these are not suitable for every type of tea. Teas such as these taste less intensive than usual, but always very natural. And in our opinion – simply delicious!

Even we cannot imagine an Earl Grey tea without any natural or artificial flavourings. Certainly not at the present. We have therefore had to forgo (for the time being) the development of a top seller like, for example, Earl Grey tea. Yet, despite the somewhat vague legislation in Germany and the EU, a flavouring for us is – regardless of which type, whether natural or as a fruit oil or essence – an artificially produced “flavour enhancer”.

Consciously avoiding them means resorting to unusual, more complex recipes that consist exclusively of natural ingredients (stick lembke range – “All-natural Teas”). As a consequence, we forgo sales opportunities and take on the risk of working with recipes that have a less intensive flavour. The difference is comparable to that between a fizzy drink like orangeade and flavoured waters. To put it another way: our continued professional existence depends on this. We view the challenge of “swimming against the flow” and liberating the consumer from artificial additives at high personal risk as sustainability for the benefit of the connoisseur.

What is more, we find that our brand – exclusively without – tastes better. And our current range of 18 varieties is by no means complete.

We – “the brand exclusively without” – would be pleased.

We would like more transparency and fairness.

We are experts with decades of experience in the international tea business. We generally know the tea growers and their families at the source personally. Fair trade with them is not only something that we regard as self-evident but also a question of dealing with each other honestly. Wherever possible, we encourage socially balanced and ecological tea production on site.

What then links us to the key partners in the business is something that is becoming increasingly unfashionable these days: a long-lasting friendship and business relationship sealed by a handshake.

We remain true to our origins.

Directly below our office, in a new and modern tea production area, is where we produce our teas. And we also develop our innovative recipes and designs where the tea arrives straight from the gardens: in the port of Hamburg.

Made in Hamburg/Germany.

We work as sustainably and safely as possible.

We haven’t yet managed to do everything we had planned. As we also have to set our sights for sustainability in relation to the greatest possible product safety, not every solution that we might wish for is currently feasible. This is unfortunate!

But we are working on it. And we will not rest until every component of the packaging also meets our highest standards in terms of sustainability.

Hand-picked

Wherever you find “hand-picked” after the name of our varieties, we are referring to black, green or white teas that can be traced without doubt back to their source.

We obtain our teas from tea gardens which we know and where we are sure that the work is carried out in a proper and sustainable manner. The criterion for this may not only be the organic certification of the garden but also its entire dealings with the wonderful, sensual product of tea, and also its dealings with the local employees involved in the garden’s success. Generally, the operators or owners are known to us personally. They are aware that their names appear on our packages and are extremely interested in providing exceptionally good qualities under the name of stick lembke. Just as we are!

Consequently, depending on the harvesting conditions, every vintage will taste good but different – just like an outstanding wine. Nobody has dared to do this before and we hope you will reward us for this through your purchases.

Product safety has priority over sustainability

Safety first.

We have to protect our teas and their packaging against the possible migration of unwanted substances from the surroundings, even when we are discussing sustainability. This is why, in cases of doubt, we have to give higher priority to product safety than to sustainability. Consequently, it is possible to produce and process the inner foils and individual wrapping from regenerative raw materials or paper. However, the current state of the art does not provide the protective qualities that we consider important for dealing with tea.

Nevertheless, we are working on this and will not rest until we have found a 100% solution.

Organic quality as a matter of course

Nobody wants any residues in their tea.

The only consistent and the most reliable approach here is to use organic grades from dependable sources that we know personally.

“Organic” always means considering the nature of the packaging as well

Organic without including the packaging is not enough.

Sustainable raw materials and compostability of filter materials:
Today it is possible to use packaging and filter materials that are 1) safe, 2) consist of regenerative raw materials and 3) are at least biologically degradable or even compostable.

The special feature of our packaging:

  • Hand-stitched, transparent bags (stick lembke tea delights)
  • Hand-stitched thread without the customary capillary effect (stick lembke tea delights)
  • Filter material from regenerative raw materials, biologically degradable (stick lembke tea delights) or compostable (stick lembke pyramid bags)
  • Folding box and tray made from FSC Mix certified timber management
  • Pyramid bags with extra-long cotton thread to make sure the label stays outside
  • No cellophane around the packaging and no aluminium clip on the bag

Recycled materials:
We do not use any recycled materials in the packaging. We would like to have done so, but – to the best of our knowledge – the use of recycled materials in contact with food jeopardizes product safety.

Our promise to you: if we find a more sustainable solution that is technically feasible and above all safe, we will implement it.

Consignment by sea-going container has priority over road or air cargo

Unfortunately, tea does not grow in Germany! Our teas come from business partners that we know from all over the world, are developed and produced by us in Hamburg and are packed in Marrakesh – more attractively and safely than is possible anywhere else in the world. Wherever feasible, we carry out all of the transport stages contained in this chain by means of containers on ships, although this means of transport is certainly not the cleanest. In fact, one of the main factors responsible for fine particulate emissions in the city of Hamburg is the movement of ships in and out of the harbour. However, the picture is quite different if we look at the emissions per individual pack. Here transport by ship is advantageous for our consignments for reasons of size.

Only at the very end of the chain do our teas come to you by truck. At present we have no alternative to this. If at some time a meaningful alternative does arise, we will seize the opportunity.

Why don’t we work with the fair labels?

We have considered this question for a long time.

We appreciate the labels used in Germany and regard them as very helpful in heightening consumer awareness for sustainably manufactured tea products. The labels used in Germany and the EU, such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, etc. enjoy our respect and our support for their ideals. However, we place even more trust in our stick & lembke system and our reliable partners:

Working conditions in our company and in our supply chain:

We know our suppliers and sources of supply. This is not something that can be taken for granted in this business. From our many years of experience, we know how they work and are familiar with the conditions on site. And not simply since our time with stick & lembke.

An above-average number of women work in our supply chain – in the tea garden or, for example, during the hibiscus harvest in Africa or in the packing plant of our friends in Marrakesh. There in Marrakesh, for instance, they undergo a two-year training period for packing tea.

As a consequence, we do not think in clichés, we are familiar with the real conditions on site and are pleased that this is the case.

Certification without labels:

During the coming year, we are aiming to obtain certification with Sedex (www.sedexglobal.com), the platform for consistently ethical dealings in the supply chain – and, incidentally, in our own offices as well.

In the case of doubt, we regard this as more credible than any label with which we might buy ourselves out of additional effort and all further responsibility.

We are from Hamburg and we are not a corporation

We work in Hamburg within view of the Köhlbrandbrücke suspension bridge in the harbour. That is where we develop our recipes and where we can view and inspect how they are produced if necessary. Our packaging material supplier, our logistics service and our forwarding agent are based in Lübeck, some 60 km away from Hamburg. For us, this means short routes to obtain the personal coordination that is frequently demanded by our joint project. Made in Northern Germany.

We have long since stopped wearing ties, because we occasionally like to jump on a bicycle to visit our partners. Of course we still have to fly or travel by car, but we can make sure that this doesn’t happen too often. Always under the proviso that it makes economic sense, there is a cluster of partners in our immediate neighbourhood who are able to support our efforts.

It is our project and that of all the partners involved – from the tea plantations at the outset, via our friends in Marrakesh, via you as our customers or consumers through to our partners, as mentioned above, in northern Germany. We are all working together on our project, to leave what is natural in its natural state. It may sound naive, but even this is something we see as sustainable.