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What Is Fair Trade Tea?

If you drink a lot of tea, chances are you’ve wondered exactly where your tea is coming from. Unfortunately, tea is a sector of agriculture where third-world workers are often exploited and underpaid for the amount of labor they perform. Fair trade tea is a great way to make sure your tea purchases don’t contribute to human rights concerns like poverty and human trafficking.

Fair trade tea is a way of making sure tea plantation workers and small farmers are paid fairly for their labor. Consumers can contribute by purchasing tea from plantations that make a point to pay their workers in accordance with fair trade regulations that protect their workers’ livelihoods.

In many cases, going with a fair-trade tea distributor for your tea purchases means you’re directly contributing to the betterment of someone else’s life. Keep reading to learn more about fair trade tea and how you can help local agricultural communities around the world by buying it.

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fair trade tea plantation

Where Does Fair-Trade Tea Come From?

While tea is grown all over the globe, fair trade tea is grown in just eleven different countries across the world. The largest producer of fair-trade tea in the world is the African nation of Kenya, followed by India and Malawi. Even though fair-trade tea is produced in many countries, over sixty-four percent of fair-trade tea production in the world comes from Kenya.

Where Can You Find Fair Trade Tea Brands?

If you’re concerned about buying ethically sourced organic and fair trade tea, it’s a great time to be a tea lover. You can find all sorts of fair trade teas both online and at your local grocer. Available in either loose tea or fair trade tea bags, you’re bound to find your favorite tea and feel good about drinking it.

Here’s a small sampling of the fair trade tea companies and varieties available:

Why Is Fair-Trade Tea Important?

From a human rights standpoint, fair-trade tea is important because it helps protect third-world agricultural workers and independent farmers who are extremely vulnerable to the shift of market prices on goods like tea, coffee, bananas, and other exports.

If the price of tea production falls below the market value of the tea, this can bankrupt tea farmers and leave them vulnerable to crime, human trafficking, extreme poverty, and famine. Fair-trade helps protect against this happening by imposing several regulations that serve to protect fair trade tea producers from dips in the market.

How Do Fair Trade Regulations Protect Farmers? 

The regulations that protect farmers ensure that the farmers get paid fairly no matter what outside forces affect the market value of their tea. Here are a few regulations that help protect farmers who produce fair trade tea:

●  Guaranteed production cost: Fair-trade production guarantees that even if the market value of tea falls below the amount that will create a livable wage, this value will be supplemented to ensure the farmer’s survival.

●  Fair-trade premiums: Fair-trade tea producers earn fair-trade premiums on every pound of tea they sell. Many tea producers then turn around to re-invest these premiums back into their local communities in the form of education, agricultural advances, infrastructure, and other quality-of-life improvements.

●  Climate change preparation: Changing climate conditions around the world have had an impact on growing conditions for tea. Fair-trade organizations provide programs for fair-trade producers to help them adapt their agricultural practices to climate change.

These benefits help protect small farmers from a chaotic global market and also encourage the betterment of agricultural communities in villages worldwide.

Is Fair-Trade Tea Really Fair?

Fair-trade tea isn’t a perfect system, and the benefits of it aren’t accessible to either all producers or all consumers. The added expense of fair-trade tea may make it unaffordable for tea drinkers on a budget.

Buying fair trade tea is a much fairer way of reimbursing small farmers than buying mass-produced corporate tea and putting them out of business.

tea plant on fair trade tea plantation

How Does Fair Trade Tea Benefit Tea Farmers?

The biggest criticism of fair-trade tea production is that it only has a moderate effect on the national economy of a third-world country. The big benefits that come from fair-trade tea production are in how they affect small communities. Here are some of the ways fair trade tea benefits farmers:

●  It gives them economic security. Economic security in small rural third-world communities can help prevent a wide variety of poverty-related crimes including domestic abuse, theft, human trafficking, and drug trafficking.

●  It stimulates the local economy. While the effects of fair-trade tea on the national economy may be modest, the extra money can make a major difference once farmers invest it back into their villages and towns.

●  It promotes worker solidarity. The intentions of fair-trade tea operations allow for open communications between tea plantation management and laborers, allowing them to negotiate for better working conditions and wages more easily.

You might not ever get to see the positive impacts of your fair-trade tea purchases firsthand, but you can sip your cup and know that you’ve done your small part to help improve someone’s quality of life on the other side of the world.

Is Fair Trade Tea Better Than Non-Fair-Trade Tea?

From a quality standpoint, fair-trade tea isn’t necessarily better than other brands of mass-produced tea. Fair trade tea is often grown in comparable growing conditions to other tea producers, so the taste and appearance of the tea should be similar.

The real way that fair trade tea is better than the alternative is that it is a more ethical purchase. By choosing fair trade tea over tea that isn’t fair trade, you’re making the deliberate choice to support small farmers and vulnerable families that depend on local agriculture for their survival.

Fair-Trade Tea Promotes Economic Equality

Buying fair-trade tea is a great step to take if you’re interested in making as many ethical purchases as you can.

You can’t control every aspect of how your tea is produced. However, buying fair-trade tea at least guarantees that the people who produced your tea have good working conditions and are making enough money to live on comfortably.

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