10 Fair Trade Tea Brands With Smart Sustainable Practices

Agricultural worker with a handful of Fair Trade tea leaves in a tea field

carefullychosen / Getty Images

Tea is one of the healthiest, most versatile drinks on the planet -- whether hot or iced, black or green, chai or ooling, loose or bagged, it's an herbal shot of antioxidants and cancer-fighters that you can enjoy all year with nothing but water. Make sure your daily cup comes from reliable sources, where the workers are paid and the conditions are safe, by choosing one of these Fair Trade blends for your next brew.

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Blue Smoke Coffee

The team behind Blue Smoke Coffee's organic, Fair Trade, and shade-grown roasts also offers loose teas grown and harvested with the same care and focus on social responsibility. Look for sweet, delicate flavors like jasmine green tea, peach black tea, blackberry black tea, and white peony white tea -- and try the muscatel black tea, too, which is grown and produced on a biodynamic tea farm using sustainable farming practices. (Blue Smoke Coffee, $10)

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The Republic of Tea

Since its founding in 1992, The Republic of Tea has been encouraging tea drinkers to live a "Sip by Sip" life -- instead of a "Gulp by Gulp" one -- which includes steeping and enjoying the company's varieties of black, green, herbal, oolong, and flavored teas. Fair Trade blends come in flavors including cranberry blood orange, wild blueberry, apricot honey, and cherry apple -- some of which are also part of the Little Citizens line, which carries caffeine-free fruity flavors aimed at kids and donates $1 from each purchase to Room to Read. (The Republic of Tea, from $10.50)

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Mug with a steeping bag of simply mint tea

Ed Kohler / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Numi's organic, Fair Trade blends are packed with light florals and delicate flavors -- white tea with Osmanthus flowers, white tea with rose petals, ginger lemon green tea, and black tea with vanilla take advantage of the natural antioxidants in flowers and plants to give your cup an added health boost. Along with following Fair Trade standards and sourcing organic tea and herbs, Numi makes a point of recycling its packaging products, and finessed its processing to be waste-free; its cardboard boxes are made from 85 percent recycled material, which the company says saves more than 5,000 trees each year. (Numi, from $7)

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Upton Tea Imports

Mug of oolong tea on a desk

Joe Hall / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Massachusetts-based Upton Tea Imports sells loose oolong, pu-erh, white, black, and green teas -- including eight different Fair Trade selections that it describes in detail usually reserved for wine tastings. Heirloom tea flowers have a flavor that's "surprisingly full, with notes of honey, caramel, and citrus;" Makaibari Estate "yields a dark liquor...fruity notes and nutty nuances are present...the finish is clean and smooth." And Chun Mee is "sweet and smooth, with surprisingly rich character" while "subtle hints of chestnut round out the flavor profile." (Upton Tea Imports, from $6)

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Partners Tea Company

Sarah Scarborough and Jodi Banks started Partners Tea Company in 2006, and since then, they've traveled all over the world to source estate teas, one-of-a-kind blends, and Fair Trade leaves from growers in developing communities. Now they sell their tins through Foodzie -- an Etsy-type marketplace for gourmet food-lovers -- where you can choose from blends of melon and jasmine, goji berries and green tea, and jasmine and rose. (Partners Tea Company through Foodzie, $11)

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Zhena's Gypsy Tea

Zhena's Gypsy Tea cannister

stacey / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

At Zhena's Gypsy Tea, everything from the tins -- made from recyclable stainless steel -- to the philosophy -- that the company "markets meaning" -- is built with a bigger worldview in mind. The Fair Trade teas, which include flavors like peach ginger, coconut chai, berry beeline, and ambrosia plum, come in two forms -- either sachets (made from hemp paper) or loose leaf -- and seasonal blends (pumpkin spice for fall, peppermint for the holidays, tropical fruits for warm weather) make it easy to sip all year. (Zhena's Gypsy Tea, $7)

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Starwest Botanicals

For more than 35 years, Sacramento, California tea seller Starwest Botanicals has offered bulk herbs and spices, aromatherapy products, herbal extracts, and bulk tea. Choose from Chun Mee green teak, English Breakfast, cinnamon orange spice, Earl Gray, mint, mango ceylon, Irish Breakfast, and other blends, sold loose by the pound for ultimate freshness. (Starwest Botanicals, from $9)

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Arbor Teas

Not sure what kind of tea you'd like? The Certified Tea Expert at Arbor Teas can help you pick the blend and flavor that matches your taste, narrowing down Fair Trade options like Golden Yunnan black tea, Makaibari Estate Darjeeling, Gunpowder green tea, and pomegranate white tea (many of which are also organic). (Arbor Teas, from $7)

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Bigelow Tea

Widely-available Bigelow only offers one Fair Trade variety -- this organic ceylon tea -- which it says has the same "rich, smooth, mountain-grown flavor" that makes ceylon a worldwide favorite. And while we aren't totally on board with the waste that goes along with single-use coffee makers, Bigelow does offer the Fair Trade ceylon in K-cups for Keurig machines -- so you can stock your office with them and encourage your coworkers to switch to Fair Trade. (Bigelow, $20 for 6 boxes)

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Cups of Rishi tea with bowls of loose leaf in the background and used tea leaves in the foreground

Breville USA / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Organic, Fair Trade tea from Rishi is imported from tea gardens in China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and elsewhere in Asia, where it's grown "according to ancient artisanal practices using organic cultivation techniques," according to the company's website. Certified organic since 2002, Rishi also boasts that it pays some of the highest social premiums for its Fair Trade blends. Rishi teas rely on ancient blends for a unique finished product that includes flavors like emerald lily green tea, chocolate chai, cinnamon plum, and ginger lime -- plus classics like Earl Gray, Darjeeling, and mint. (Rishi, from $6)