Everyone loves a cuppa. Whether you like a strong, classic brew, an aromatic cup of Earl Grey or a caffeine free infusion, it’s a really comforting drink and it’s important to make sure that you source the best. The best quality, and of course, the best ethics. There’s nothing calming about sipping at a cup of tea knowing that the people who picked it were paid pittance, worked long hours and are most likely unable to go home and feed their families properly.
So how do you know if your tea is fair? Well, logos such as the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade are a great start, but not every company pursues these certifications (for various reasons) and yet they still pay fairly, trade honestly and in many cases, pay above the Fairtrade base rate.
So, just because the independent tea shop down the road doesn’t have the above certifications, doesn’t mean they are not wonderful people. They may just do things a bit differently. The key is a little research, perhaps a simple question to the company/store and following these basic tips:
Look for the Source
Look out for the origin of the tea/ingredients. Don’t buy from companies who do not identify the origin. Single origin tea is often easier to trace.
Check the Good Shopping Guide
The Good Shopping Guide is an ethical rating index. They research into the records of companies behind some of our favourite brands and rate them on a wide range of ethical attributes. Here you can see the summary table for Tea & Coffee (more detailed table on the website). Not all of your favourite companies will be listed on the site, but it’s a good start.
Check the Ethical Policy
If you don’t see the Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance logos, check the companies Ethical Policy online or drop them an email.
Some of my favourite tea brands are not certified, but have the most wonderful ethics.
In fact, due to the premium nature of their teas and the unusual ingredients they use to flavour and enhance them, Bluebird Tea Co. are one of those companies who do not have fair trade certification, but go above and beyond to treat people fairly, and run their business in an ethical way.
Positivitea are another wonderful tea brand, who believe that the best quality teas aren’t necessarily Fairtrade. They pay a premium price for their teas and source from quality estates with sustainable business models. They visit all plantations to ensure that all of their ethical and quality ideals are being upheld.
Positivitea are also taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and their tea bags are biodegradable.
Which leads me on to:
Ethics of Tea Bags vs Loose Tea
I usually prefer loose tea, as it has a better flavour and is usually a better quality, but some brands make great tea bags using loose leaf quality tea. It’s important to ensure that your tea bags are:
Natural and unbleached to minimise the environmental impact.
Biodegradable – so they don’t clog up landfill with plastics.
Uses recyclable packaging – especially if they are individually wrapped.
So, it’s easier to buy ethical, fairly sourced tea than you may think. So, now you can enjoy your tea with true peace of mind.
Thanks for reading.
Have a wonderful cup of tea!