What is Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species, Tectona grandis, which grows to over 130 feet tall.
Where does Teak wood come from?
Teak is a tropical hardwood. It is native to South and SouthEast Asia, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. In Thailand it is predominantly found in Northern Thailand.
Why is Teak so valued and what is it used for?
Teak wood has a very high oil content, giving it a very high decay resistance. It is incredibly durable and is water resistant. It does not crack or turn black when in contact with metals and it is resistant to termites and other pests. For these reasons it is used in a wide variety of ways, boat building, yachts, exterior construction, indoor and outdoor furniture, veneers and carvings. And of course kitchen utensils.
Is Teak endangered?
Asian Teak is not on the CITES list of prohibited woods for sale but African Teak is.
Still, much of the original Teak forests have been cut down. In SE Asia this has led to problems of deforestation, flooding, hillsides washing away, and loss of habitat. To counter this there has been a large effort to replant and reforest.
Baan Lak Nai Pa Yai has been one of the pilot projects for this replanting and regeneration. Thirty years ago the villagers were nomadic, moving from one spot to another, cutting and burning the forests, farming on the cleared land and hunting in the surrounding forest, then moving on once the land could not sustain crops and repeating the process. The people were poor, with yourng people moving to the cities to work, and the land was degraded, with recurring floods and droughts.
Queen Sirikit on visiting the area resolved to do something about it and set up the pilot project. Army rangers and other people with expertise were sent to show the villagers how to grow organic crops, live sustainably in one place and to restore the surrounding environment. Funding for lathes and other tools was provided and skilled wood turners were sent to teach the people how to make the different utensils.
Villagers receive funding to replant hillsides, as well as to farm organically, and to re use and re purpose Teak from old furniture, housing, building sites.
Who benefits from the sale of Yompai's Teak?
The obvious answer is we, Yompai do.We are a business, not an NGO or aid organisation so we aim to make a profit. That being said, we have deliberately priced our products so that we can both make a profit and sell as many as we can. The more we can sell the more we can support the villagers of Baan Lek Na Pai Yai and hopefully one day enable other villagers to follow their example. We pay fair pricing, we are not looking to exploit them but to support them.Our pricing reflects that, we sell great products that are wonderfully made. With care eg, not being used in a dishwasher they can literally last a lifetime. We want to be beneficial to the villagers, to ourselves and to you, the customers who will get a beautiful wooden utensil that you can use, that will last, at a great price.
Who do I help with this purchase.
You help people like Wittisuk, who is able to stay in the village and care for his aged parents, and not have to stay in Bangkok, far from them, driving taxis 12 hours a day.
How Should I Care for my Teak Utensil
Most important is not to dishwash it. That will over time severely damage the wood. To clean simply hand wash in warm soapy water, rinse off and pat dry.
You may re oil from time to time with any food safe oil.