The Amazing Story of Izrael tea and Za'atar
This story was told to us by Huri (Yoram Ben Herut). Huri is 67 years old today, and his passion and enthusiasm is so strong and unique, one cannot be anything but swept away with him. The story begins with his father Zeev Ben Herut, an Israeli agronomist from an Austrian origin that made Aliyah and studied the flora of the land of Israel in the 1940’s. Zeev was working in the 1970’s as the agricultural manager of the west bank. In 1980 he decided to develop the first ever cultivated species of Zaatar, that up until then was only growing wild here in Israel. Ben Herut did this in order to assist the local Palestinian farmers in advancing their agriculture efforts. The new species that was resilient and could produce more yield was developed after 4 years of experiments.
Then, his son Huri, with the encouragement of his father decided to start growing Zaatar as well, in a new farm in the Galilee – at moshav Alon Hagalil. Everyone thought this was a crazy idea, no one in Israel then, even ate Zaatar. They were very successful. It started out small, with only one plot of land, and drying the Zaatar in the sun. And it became a great success. Today every Israeli home has Zaatar in the kitchen and it has become a household classic. Their unique Zaatar and packages reached everywhere.
Huri was always in love with the land of Israel. Because of the special location of Israel on the Syrian-African rift valley, Israel has one of the largest variety of herbal and medicinal plants in the world. As a farmer, Huri loved spending his weekends traveling in Israel on jeep tours. His fun was picking herbs and plants from the fields and making fresh tea with them. His friends loved the special blends Huri used to make. The tea was amazing! So he decided once more to dare and pioneer and make this commercial, recreating his special tea for many Israelis to enjoy at home and in coffee shops. And so he created Izrael Tea.
His Son Omri, then joined in, after he brought the special blends to Tel Aviv with him and experienced the great enthusiasm people expressed after tasting the wonderful flavors of the Israeli nature in a cup.
When Huri decided to create the tea business he wanted to also include his passion for the land and for its people, and so, building on his long standing great relationship with the Arab population, he decided to join hands with a nonprofit that provides occupational therapy for people with disabilities.
Today, their packing houses are employing people with disabilities from the Arab society and they pack spice mixes, Tea blends and other goodies. They also have a visitor center where Huri shares his special journey and passion for plants and Israel. His wife Mira runs all the day to day management of the business.
Huri is following in his father’s footsteps, and his son is following as well. The Ben Herut family has three generations of passion and love for our land and its people.
When we asked Huri what he loves best about his work, his answer was: the joy of creation and creativity, he says he is living his life as the humble Za’atar: quiet and humble, without making a big fuss. 🙂
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