Fair trade is a movement to help the producers of goods receive fair treatment. Fair trade plays an important role in maintaining fair wages and living standards for sellers of all kinds of products, particularly in less developed countries.
Choosing fair trade tea helps ensure that the tea is produced ethically and sustainably. This fair trade tea gift guide will walk you through how buying fair trade tea makes an impact, and will provide several great options for fair trade tea gifts.
Background Information: Fair Trade Pros and Cons
Why Buying Fair Trade Tea Makes an Impact
Tea is typically grown on large plantations in Kenya, India, and Sri Lanka. Many of these tea plantations are the products of colonialism, where tea workers faced extremely inhumane working conditions. Unfortunately, many tea workers still face poor working conditions today, including low wages, malnutrition, high rates of disease, and exposure to toxic pesticides. Many tea workers’s families have lived on the estates where they work for generations and have little say in their working conditions. Many are trapped in a “cycle of dependence” in which they make so little money that they have no option but to continue to live in estate-provided housing and have their children become tea workers as well.
In 2009, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested $7.8 million USD to try and make tea workers part-owners of the plantations where they work in order to improve working conditions. However, the IFC has recently been criticized for not providing enough oversight for this project and failing to create marked improvements in tea workers’ working situations. For example, a 2016 report found that the IFC failed to improve inadequate sanitation and health practices, to provide living wages, healthcare and education, and to ensure workers’ rights to unionize were protected.
Fair trade tea is grown by farmers who are committed to ensuring fair production practices for their workers. Fair trade tea farmers must have:
- Policies against forced labor and on gender equality
- Decent housing and sanitation conditions
- Increased emphasis on workers having a say in conditions and Fairtrade Certification.
- Fair pay
- Environmentally-friendly production practices
- Adequate monitoring to ensure adherence to these practices
When you buy fair trade tea, you help support producers that are dedicated to these ethical standards. Not only can you rest assured that your tea is ethically-produced, but you also help provide financial support to fair trade workers.
The Fairtrade Tea Standard
In order to become Fairtrade Certified, producers must adhere to a strict set of standards, known as the “Fairtrade Tea Standards for Small-scale Producer Organizations, Hired Labour and Traders.” These standards create specific requirements that help meet the goals of fair trade, such as fair wages or fair working conditions.
These standards also set the dollar amount for the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium for tea. The Fairtrade Minimum Price is the lowest amount a product can be sold for. This helps ensure that workers are receiving a fair wage. The Fairtrade Premium is an extra amount of money farmers and producers receive on top of the price of the product, which can be used to fund community projects such as healthcare, increased education, or environmental projects.
In 2021, Fairtrade International, the certifying body for Fairtrade Certification, updated the standards to bring a stronger focus to worker participation in Fairtrade Certification decisions, to strengthen worker’s rights, and to strengthen employers’ duty to enforce gender anti-discrimination policies. These updates’ general aim is to improve working conditions for tea workers. All Fairtrade Certified tea producers must adhere to these new standards as of April 1, 2022.
Fair Trade Tea Gifts
There are currently 106 Fairtrade certified tea producers worldwide, with the largest concentration of producers in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, and China. While Fairtrade International’s goal is to increase the number of Fairtrade Certified tea producers in order to improve working conditions across the tea sector as a whole, there are plenty of fair trade tea producers to choose from today.
Fair trade tea makes a great ethical and sustainable gift. Here are a few options for fair trade tea gifts:
1. Numi Tea is a Fairtrade Certified tea producer committed to fair working conditions and sustainability. Their farmers vote to decide how to allocate their Fairtrade Premiums, and have used these funds for a variety of purposes including building roads and schools, providing college scholarships, and buying cooking stoves and mosquito nets. As an added bonus, Numi is B Corp certified, meaning they adhere to a number of sustainable and social standards.
Numi makes several fair trade tea gifts, such as their Wander with Purpose gift box, which contains a variety of teas from around the world, or their Tea by Mood box that curates teas designed to give you what you need, from focus to energy to sleep.
2. Mountain Rose Herbs is a Fair for Life Fairtrade Certified tea company started in 1987. Fair for Life Certification shows that Mountain Rose Herb’s entire supply chain is committed to positive social and environmental practices. The company has a number of ethical and sustainable certifications in addition, including USDA Organic, Non-GMO, and Zero Waste.
The company sells a wide variety of fair trade teas, from green teas to rooibos to black to chai teas. You can also find tea accessories, such as mugs, tea strainers and tea filters, and a variety of tea pots. Any of these products would make a great fair trade tea gift.
3. Level Ground offers both fair trade tea and fair trade coffee. Their fair trade tea is sourced in Assam, a region of India famous for its tea production. The company buys only from small tea growers, rather than large plantations, and provides Fair Trade Premiums to communities. In the past, Level Ground’s partner farms have used premiums to purchase water filtration for community-members’ homes and pigs to sell for extra profit.
The company’s highly-reviewed fair trade tea options include earl grey, chai, green tea, and black tea. Each box features the image of one of their fair trade farmers, and the webpage provides information about where the tea was grown.
4. English Tea Shop sells sustainable, organic, Fairtrade Certified teas. Rather than working with middle men, they work directly with farmers, which helps farmers increase profits. They work with 2999 small-scale farmers directly.
English Tea Shop sells a wide variety of fair trade tea gift boxes, such as the Wellness Collection Gift Pack, the Ultimate Tea Collection Gift Tin, and even several advent calendar tea puzzles. You can depend on receiving a wide variety of teas in a brightly-colored, beautifully decorated box.
5. Finally, rather than buying a pre-packaged fair trade tea gift box, consider making your own basket filled with a variety of fair trade teas from different companies. This is a sure way to create an exciting, variety-filled gift. You can use Fairtrade International’s Fairtrade Finder tool to search for Fairtrade Certified farms and tea companies.