Craving the perfect cup of tea on a chilly morning? Here are some companies with ethical business practices worth supporting.
Whether you crave a cup of hot tea on a cold winter morning or a chilled glass on a warm summer day, it all starts with skilled workers on tea farms around the world. By choosing a fair trade-certified tea, you can sip assured that the workers who grew, tended, picked, and processed those flavorful tea leaves were paid fairly for their labor.
In the words of Fair Trade USA: “Fair Trade helps tea farmers and workers gain access to capital, set fair prices for their products, and make democratic decisions about how to best improve their business, their community and their tea.”
Here are some companies selling wonderful fair trade teas that to take the chill off these remaining winter days. Enjoy!
All of the teas sold by Equal Exchange are certified Fair Trade, and even go a step beyond that by sourcing exclusively from small-scale farmers and smaller agricultural models, such as democratic co-ops, rather than the large plantations that are the norm in the tea industry. Since the company's main focus is on coffee and chocolate, the tea selection is small but high quality; it consists of black, green, rooibos, and a few basic herbals.
Little Red Cup Tea Company
A family-run business based in Brunswick, Maine, this tea company imports high quality tea from China that is certified organic and fair trade. The company prides itself on selling pure, simple, traditional, whole leaf varieties – “no Mango-Walnut-Green-Tea-Surprise, breakfast blends.” Instead, it sells “the kind of teas that our friends routinely drink in China,” tea that you can drink all day long and that keeps you going.
Mountain Rose Herbs
This company sells tea, as well as herbs, spices, aromatherapy products, and more. Its philosophy is impressive; everything is certified organic and fair trade, but Mountain Rose Herbs goes beyond that to uphold the “Good Trade Program,” which gives full negotiating rights to growers. The company is also committed to Zero Waste, and since 2007 has gone from producing 3000-5000 gallons of waste per month to 70-80 gallons (the average amount for a 2-person household).
Firepot Nomadic Teas
Firepot promises “teas so extraordinary that they will change the way you think about tea.” The website features gorgeous photos of unusual blends that will likely make your mouth water. Nearly everything Firepot sells is organic, but not all of their teas are certified Fair Trade, so be sure to search specifically for that criteria, which includes loose leaf teas and pre-steeped concentrates.
Arbor Teas sells organic, fair trade tea in packaging that can be composted in your own backyard. The company offsets its carbon emissions through CarbonFund.org and encourages customers to choose ground shipping instead of air, in order to reduce emissions. Read up on the company’s ‘Eco-Brewing Tips’ if you want to learn how to make every cup of tea a bit greener. http://www.arborteas.com/pages/eco-brewing-tips.html
If you’re in the UK or Europe, then this award-winning company is one you should know about. Clipper Teas has been around since 1984 and prides itself on selling high quality, fair trade, and organic teas with no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It sells a wide range of teas – black, green, white, and herbal, always in unbleached tea bags.
This British Columbia-based company is a dedicated fair trade supplier, as well as a ‘direct’ trader, which means that it has eliminated the notorious middlemen to deal directly with the farmers. Level Ground sells many different food products, but it has a fabulous selection of teas, including a smoked black tea that it especially delicious and a fragrant lemongrass-ginger blend. The teas are sold loose-leaf in paper bags, cutting down on waste.
Paromi sells whole-leaf teas, since the size of a tea leaf plays an important role in the way it tastes and the health benefits it provides. The leaves are sifted to get rid of leftover dust and bits. Paromi sells its loose leaf tea in glass jars, which keep it fresh and fragrant, and bags made of biodegradable, non-GMO cornstarch. Not all Paromi teas are certified fair trade, so be sure to search for that specific criterion before buying.