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Trekking for Treasured Beans in Highland Pshavi

Trekking for Treasured Beans in Highland Pshavi

Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains of northern Georgia sits the picturesque village of Pasanauri, perched at over 5,000 feet in the Highland Pshavi region. I embarked on a multi-day trek through the alpine meadows and ancient forests surrounding Pasanauri in search of the region’s treasured crops, Arabica coffee beans and Nepalese tea leaves.

This region is renowned for producing small batches of specialty coffee and tea using traditional, sustainable methods. The varying elevations and unique microclimates across Highland Pshavi impart diverse flavors to the harvests. I was eager to learn more about the agricultural practices and taste samples straight from the source.

Day 1: Beginning the Trek at Latali Pass

After arriving in Pasanauri by vehicle, I began my trek at the Latali Pass, crossing over at 3,600 meters into the rugged, high-altitude terrain. Following well-worn trails snaking between craggy peaks, I embarked uphill through lush grasses and wildflowers. Periodic resting spots along the route offered expansive views of towering mountainsides.

As I trekked higher into the highlands, the foliage transformed into sparse clusters of hearty shrubs and scraggly trees. In a small mountainside clearing, I encountered a shepherd tending goats and sheep grazing on the sparse grasses and bushes. He greeted me warmly and offered fresh, tangy goat cheese and pickled vegetables for a energizing snack. Refueling, I continued the ascent to my campsite nestled in an alpine meadow overlooking a glacial lake.

Day 2: Visiting a Sustainable Coffee Farm

After a relaxing morning taking in alpine scenery from my camp, I began the descent down rough trails. The air became noticeably warmer and more humid. Emerging from a forest into a verdant valley, I spotted rows of leafy coffee bushes laden with bright red cherries. I had reached one of Highland Pshavi’s most renowned organic coffee farms.

The owner showed me around the shaded plots where Arabica coffee varieties like Typica, Bourbon and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe were carefully tended. I learned about their mulching, composting and hand-picking practices to produce high-quality beans sustainably. After a taste of homemade soup, I sampled several batches of their specialty roasted coffees prepared using a wooden mandril roaster powered by an environmentally-friendly wood-burning stove. Their fruity, complex profiles highlighted the farm’s dedication to terracing, soil nutrition and post-harvest processing.

Day 3: Exploring Tea Fields in the Cloud Forest

Leaving the coffee farm, I began a long ascent through cool, lush forests. Moss-draped trees of birch, alder, elm and hornbeam created a mystical ambiance. Emerging above the treeline, I entered a magical moonscape of gnarly rhododendron and mountain ash shrubs carpeting the mountainside in pink and red blooms. Scattered amongst the blooms were neat rows of pruned Nepalese tea bushes.

I had reached a renowned organic tea farm situated on a remote high-altitude plateau. The owner explained that their altitudinal terracing allowed cultivation of unique varietals like White, Green, Oolong teas optimized for the montane cloud forests. I sampled several small-batch teas prepared from the late spring harvest, astonished by their refreshing herbaceous and floral profiles.

Reflecting on the trek’s agricultural discoveries in this treasured Georgian highland region, I gained newfound appreciation for the traditional farming fostering biodiversity and producing sustainable specialty crops of exquisite quality.

Coffee Variety | Process | Flavor Profile
Typica | Fully washed | Bright acidity, grapefruit, orange zest |
Bourbon | Pulped natural | Berry, cocoa, nutty undertones |
Yirgacheffe | Honey processed | Floral, crisp acidity, lemon balm |


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