By Karen Callaway • Photography courtesy of Numi Organic Tea
A brother and sister combine their unique talents to brew success.
Ahmed and Reem Rahim may have grown up in the same house, but when the time came to leave the nest, the siblings flew off in different directions. After picking up a B.A. in psychology and theater at New York University, Ahmed spent a decade traveling through Europe in his work as a filmmaker and photographer, eventually helping create several teahouses in Prague. His sister earned a degree in biomedical engineering before switching gears to pursue artistic endeavors in both Florence, Italy, and Northern California. A family vacation at the Grand Canyon reunited the two and kindled the idea for a business born of their mutual love for tea. In 1999, from a tiny apartment in Oakland, California, Ahmed and Reem launched their organic tea company, Numi, named after the tart dried-lime tisane they drank as children in their native Iraq.
With Ahmed as CEO and alchemist and Reem as the artist and chief brand officer, Numi has grown from that initial seed into a successful company that offers products running the gamut from green, black, white, and herbal teas to Pu-erh and its newest line of Savory Teas.
“Pu-erh, an ancient healing tea from China, was relatively unknown in the U.S. before we introduced it,” says Ahmed. “It’s a wonderfully rich, dark, and malty tea that undergoes a unique fermentation process.” Because of the fermentation, Pu-erh has been used through the ages as a digestive aid. The leaves are procured from 500-year-old trees in Yunnan, China.
The team at Numi is passionate about the organic origins of their products, and Ahmed makes this point about the importance of organic tea cultivation: Normally, when consumers purchase food, like fruits and vegetables, they wash off the dirt, fertilizers, and such before they partake. On the other hand, tea leaves go directly into bags after being picked and processed, so the initial contact with water is in our own cup. “If any harmful chemicals were used in the tea gardens, they are released into our cups along with the tea flavor,” he explains. “Organic tea cultivation protects the health of farmers, the planet, and you.”
Numi is the largest Fair Trade, organic, and premium tea company in North America, and the Rahims are setting their sights on introducing the wonders of its teas to other parts of the world. As one might expect, it can be difficult at times to work with your sibling, but Ahmed and Reem are quick to affirm that it definitely has its pluses. “You’re very different, yet you have a long history together and sometimes have to face things you’re not always comfortable with,” explains Reem. “At the same time, it is amazing to have a partner you can trust and who will always be there for you.” Ahmed adds, “Working with my sister is great. I trust her, I believe in her creative expression, and together we combine our talents in the world of Numi.”
For more information on Numi Organic teas, call 888-404-6864, or visit numitea.com.
Karen Callaway is a former magazine editor who writes on a variety of topics from her home in Birmingham, Alabama.