Did you know that Harney offers teas that are certified kosher? If you’ve stumbled across that on our website or on one of our tea’s descriptions, you may have wondered what that meant.
Unless you grew up in a traditional Jewish home, you may have no idea what it means for a food or beverage to be certified as kosher. Or you may think you know… and you may be wrong.
So, What Does Kosher Mean?
The word “kosher” means “fit” or “appropriate.” It is derived from the Hebrew word kasher which means “proper” or “lawful.” In everyday slang, saying that something’s “not kosher” means it’s not cool or okay. But in its original meaning, to “keep kosher” means you follow Jewish dietary laws.
Those dietary laws were set forth in the Torah, in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The laws and practices of kashrut (kosher) are quite complex. Here’s a high-level overview:
- In order to be kosher, land animals must have cloven (split) hooves and chew their cud. Pork is not allowed in a kosher diet because pigs do not chew their cud.
- Fish must have fins and scales. Shellfish is not kosher.
- Only certain types of birds are kosher. Chicken, turkey, geese, quail and dove are kosher but, in general, any type of bird that is predatory is not kosher.
- If you like to eat crickets or grasshoppers, you’re in luck-- they’re kosher. But most other insects are not.
A couple of kosher myths:
- Kosher food means it’s been blessed by a rabbi. While all kosher food must be certified, it doesn’t mean it’s been blessed by a rabbi.
- Kosher food is Jewish food. Kosher food doesn’t have to be matzah ball soup or or challah or potato latkes. It can be any type of food at all-- Mexican, Italian, German. It’s what it is and how it’s prepared following kashrut law that makes it kosher.
As we said, this a very high overview of what it means to be “kosher.” As you begin to wade into the many details and exclusions (like eggs are ok unless you find a blood spot inside, then they’re not, or wine that’s not made by Jews is not kosher), it gets incredibly complex. Over the years, kashrut practices have evolved, and Jewish definitions of “keeping kosher” have varied. In fact, depending on what denomination of Judaism a person is-- Orthodox, Conservative or Reform-- some may be far more lenient in their kosher observances. Also, there are increasing numbers of non-Jewish people who are interested in following a kosher diet.
Here at Harney we want to be inclusive of all people’s nutritional choices, whether it’s kosher or decaf, herbal wellness teas or a craving for matcha, so we strive to offer choices for everyone, including kosher teas.
How Does Tea Become Kosher?
Unlike what we’ve outlined above, the process for certifying that tea is kosher is relatively straightforward. We partner with Kosher Supervision of America (“KSA”), a widely respected kosher certification agency based in Los Angeles. The main purpose of KSA is to certify food as kosher--it’s their primary job, and they do it incredibly well. They review our products and our manufacturing process, including regular audits on site by a Rabbinic Coordinator or a qualified Mashgiach (Rabbinic Field Representative). These kosher experts review our plans and procedures to ensure we have a kosher operation.
We go through this process once a year and have a certificate renewed annually. It outlines the specific teas that have been certified kosher. We’re proud of our kosher certification and are happy to share it with you for your viewing pleasure.
We’ve Got a Lot of Kosher Tea
With nearly 150 kosher-certified teas, unless you searched them out intentionally, it’s likely you’ve been drinking one or more of our kosher teas and didn’t even realize it. The list includes customer faves like Winter White Earl Grey, Herbal Hot Cinnamon Spice, Matcha Iri Genmaicha, Peaches & Ginger, Green Tea with Coconut, African Autumn Herbal Tea and dozens more. Same delicious taste as all our Harney teas, just processed to comply with kosher rules. Whether you follow a strict kosher diet or not, these teas are kosher in the dietary sense… and they’re also kosher in the “cool!” sense.