Ethically Sourced Tea | Does it really Matter?

Ethically Sourced Tea | Does it really Matter?

I feel as if this topic does not get as much coverage as it should. Ethically sourced tea should be on every tea lover’s mind as well as with the companies who make tea. So, I am going to explain a bit more of what ethically sourced tea consists of and then list 10 well-known companies that create blends with ethically sourced tea.

What does Ethically Sourced Mean?

Tea companies are adding an additional factor when making tea blends. They are starting to care about the well-being of the workers where they get their tea leaves and other ingredients from. Ethically sourced means that the materials are being obtained in a way which is responsible and purchased in a respectful way. Many farmers are cheated by having to sell their tea at a low price due to the supply chain system driving up prices later down the road. They sometimes balance on the line of poverty because bigger corporations push for lower and lower prices. When the tea is ethically sourced, not only are the workers being taken care of, the process of picking and processing the tea leaves are also environmentally conscious. 

In regards to the cost of producing tea, labor costs comprise about half of that. Out of those labor costs, 75% are from the harvesting of the tea leaves. The process of plucking the leaves can lead to many workers having back pains, as well as exposure to any chemicals in the pesticides on the leaves and any weather fluctuations. These workers are already working extremely hard due to the labor-intensive nature of harvesting and processing tea, but many times their pay does not reflect that.

Fairtrade Standards:

Some tea owners choose to buy directly from farmers, meaning that the farmers get fair prices since there is no system that drives up prices. This allows the farm to be better cared for and the quality of tea increases since it was ethically obtained. Others look for farms who associate with the Fairtrade standards. These standards enforce a Fairtrade minimum price and a Fairtrade premium cost (ex. US$ 0.50/kg black tea ) which allows producers to put money back into their farms, their village, or their employees.

“Who Picked my Tea?” Campaign:

There is a campaign in the UK called Traid Craft Tea Campaign, which prompts consumers to ask the question: who picked my tea? This campaign has already made some amazing breaks in the tea companies. More notably, larger companies such as Twinnings, Tetly, and Yorkshire Tea have since started putting their tea suppliers on their packaging. Not only does this allow consumers to know where their tea comes from, but the producers also gain knowledge about who consumes and buys their teas. Transparency was this campaigns main goal. If companies now put their suppliers on the packaging, it would not take much to actually see how they are treating their suppliers. It makes the companies more responsible for what they are doing.

Rainforest Alliance Certified:

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms practice methods which help protect their farmers(clean water access), the land the farms sit on, and the waterways nearby. They provide training and certification on farming techniques which help the ground continue to provide tea for more and more years. This certification has led these tea farms to have greater profit and better working conditions. There are Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Brazil and India, among many other countries.

Why am I talking about this?

You may be asking yourself, why is some random blogger talking about this when she has never seen the actual labor conditions or is associated with such matters? Good question. I have an answer: Awareness. Can I personally do anything that would change the tea farms conditions or how much they are getting from their tea? No, probably not. But can I write a post about this topic and hope this spreads awareness of the issue? Yes. Maybe just the right person will read this and then be able to do something about it. This is in no way a new issue, but it still is an issue in today’s world.

10 Ethically Sourced Tea Companies (Through Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance Certification):

  1. The Republic of Tea (Fairtrade USA)
  2. Honest Tea (Fairtrade USA)
  3. DAVIDsTea (Fairtrade USA)
  4. Harney & Sons (Fairtrade USA)
  5. Lipton (Rainforest Alliance)
  6. Yogi (Rainforest Alliance)
  7. Twinings (Rainforest Alliance)
  8. STASH (Fairtrade USA)
  9. Clippers Tea (Fairtrade Canada)
  10. Tea Forte (Fairtrade USA)

I will be honest, there are not many times where I am drinking tea and thinking, “Who picked this tea?” I think researching this topic has opened my eyes and I really hope it makes you think more next time you are purchasing or consuming tea. Thank the people who picked it for it is by their hard-work that you can relax and drink tea. Did I miss something big? Have you ever had any experience in this area? Let me know! And as always, happy brewing!

-Danielle

Sources:
“Tea Farmers and Workers.” Fairtrade Foundation, www.fairtrade.org.uk/Farmers-and-Workers/Tea.

“Who Picked My Tea?” Traidcraft Exchange, www.traidcraft.org.uk/tea-campaign.

Rainforest Alliance Certified Tea. (2015, September 08). Retrieved from https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/articles/rainforest-alliance-certified-tea

Insight: The Fair Trade Gap. (2018, September 25). Retrieved from https://worldteanews.com/tea-industry-news-and-features/insight-the-fair-trade-gap

3 thoughts on “Ethically Sourced Tea | Does it really Matter?

  1. Unfortunately , at least the way I see it , that all ” Fair Trade ” mark is more commercially Unfair used rather than actual Fair approach. I believe that sort of Stamp is applying to the tea farmers in Kenya or India, certainly not in China where some of the tea farmers drive luxury SUV like those from Lao Bang Zhan or Bing Dao villages.
    “Many farmers are cheated by having to sell their tea at a low price due to the supply chain system driving up prices later down the road. ” …in China it goes other way around. The buyers get cheated from actual tea farmers when they are being told the particular tea leafs come from expensive old tea tree , which is not. Yep, so we have problem with “Legit Trade” here , rather than Fair Trade.
    Anyway, nice blogging site.

    1. Wow, that is an interesting side to this, an added layer that I did not realize existed. Thank you for informing me and commenting! I will look further into the concept of “legit trade”. In the same sense that some companies could state they are ethically sourcing their tea but aren’t really, companies could say their leaves are anything really. An old or rare tree. Etc. It really comes down to the company or tea farm and whether or not they are committed to providing the best service and product. Thank you for sharing! This is very interesting!!

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