National Tea Day: Why should we be drinking Fairtrade Tea?

Tea is arguably a large part of “being British”, but do you know where your tea comes from? Who makes it? And what conditions they’re living in?

Britain is one of the biggest tea-drinking nations, buying over 80% of the world’s supply, and we’ve been making a brew morning, noon and night since the early 17th century when the East India Company presented it to King Charles II. Drinking tea became trendy, though because of tax issues, it was only the richer folk who could afford to have a cuppa. 

Nowadays, there are more affordable options, and a lot more flavours. But at what cost?

As the Fairtrade Foundation say, ‘not all tea is created equal’.

Real people picking the leaves are facing low wages, discriminations and the hard choices that living in poverty can bring. Sometimes these workers don’t earn enough even to feed their own families. 

BUT not all is lost!

Buying fairtrade tea means that farmers and workers gain security, equality, better opportunities – and much more. Long gone is the concept that Fairtrade tea is more expensive than the more mainstream brands. Next time you pop to the supermarket or local shop, look for the Fairtrade logo and you’ll be surprised to see the difference in price is not so vast. 

Here are some facts about fairtrade tea you may not be aware of!

  1. The very first fairtrade certified tea was made by Clipper in 1994 (they’re still going!)
  2. Almost 400k people are involved in Fairtrade tea, either as small-scale farmers or workers on the large-scale farms.
  3. Fairtrade tea is farmed in 12 countries by 106 producer organisations. 
  4. In 2020, tea farmers and estate workers earned almost £4m in premiums and workers on tea estates invested almost half their premium funds in housing, education and healthcare. 
  5. Kenya is the largest producer of Fairtrade tea, followed by India. 64% of all Fairtrade tea farmers and workers live in Kenya. 
  6. There are more than 400 Fairtrade-certified tea products in the UK including everyday, premium, white, green, infusions, decaf and organic – no excuses not to try Fairtrade!

70,000 cups of tea are drunk every second so next time you go to make one, make sure yours is Fairtrade. We even asked our team of staff and volunteers what their favourites are, for some inspiration!

Ruba, voluntary director: “I love the Hampstead peppermint and spearmint tea. I’m actually not a big fan of hot drinks, but this is the only one I drink if I’m not feeling well. It probably helps my mind too because it’s organic, fairtrade and biodynamic – triple whammy!”

Trio, assistant manager: “Assam teabags from Clipper – so refreshing and cheery! good all day and as an insomniac’s treat too. I have mine with oat milk when I can – it’s not true that oat milk spoils tea.”

Daniella, shop manager: “My favourites are the Clipper loose Assam tea – I sometimes add to the pot, a bag of our Dragonfly Cape Malay chai (not fairtrade). I love chai tea and so this makes for a good combination otherwise I make my own chai tea with the Assam loose by adding our Fairtrade cinnamon powder, fresh ginger and cloves. The Assam gives a lovely rich, refreshing flavour to a cup of tea.”

Karen, voluntary director: “It is Dragonfly Cape Malay chai for me too! A very special afternoon treat and refreshing pick-up if it is a busy day.”

Jo, voluntary director: “It’s the Nemi Earl Grey tea leaves that I love – a really refreshing taste – yum! Delicate but scented, great Earl Grey!”

Paul, voluntary director: “Rooibos for me – bush tea for a moment l don’t need caffeine”

Clare, voluntary director: “Dragonfly’s vanilla rooibos is my favourite accompaniment to a sandwich at lunchtime – or any time of day when I want a hot drink that isn’t coffee. (No milk for me – very refreshing just as it is!)”

Feng, marketing manager: “Organic Green loose leaf tea by Clipper is my favourite. I drink it when I’m feeling like I need a health boost. It has a reviving gentle bitterness that wakes up my system!”

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