Fairtrade Tea Facts
Fair Trade Tea benefits
• Working communities who are not fearful to unionise and consult with management.
• A living wage for each worker.
• Schools, clinics, dispensaries built as a result of the democratically decided use of the Fairtrade premium.
• Pension schemes that allow workers to leave the estates post retirement.
• Microfinance schemes set up for the workers from the fairtrade premium.
• Minimum levels of housing for all estate workers.
FT Tea testimony
Sivapackiam is the women's leader on the Fairtrade registered estate where she works. She is passionate about having a voice to represent herself and the other workers. "Before we were very afraid to talk to the manager - especially we women. We'd run into the fields when a manager was coming." Now she discusses issues such as training of the tea pickers with the management. She believes that workers need the opportunity for self-development, and an improved salary. "I think we are making a difference."
Her daily life
Sivapackiam has been picking tea on the same estate for 23 years. Her mother and grandmother did the same job before her, and it's a hard life. "Our biggest problem is that we have too much to do. In the morning we prepare meals and get the children to school. We have no time even to eat. I have to work very fast, so I get very hungry. We have to carry 10-15 kilos of tea to the weighing place, which can be three quarters of a kilometre away. After work it is the same - we have to do all the cooking and collecting firewood and getting water." She takes home the equivalent of 80 pence a day. "We eat rice and one vegetable. We would like to have two or three vegetables but we cannot afford it. Towards the end of every month we find it difficult."
A better deal
All workers on tea estates that supply the Fairtrade market have a workers' organisation to represent their interests. In Sivapackiam's case, she represents her fellow workers on a 'Joint Body' which decides the use of the Fairtrade premium. She gives an example of the difference this can make: "A year ago, we didn't have any electricity in our houses. All the members of the Joint Body got together and discussed how we could pay to install it. Some money came from the Fairtrade premium and we each took out a loan. With electricity, my children can study at night. In the morning I can iron their clothes and we can use a hot plate for cooking. I am happy that Fairtrade helps me support my family."
Tea Facts in brief
• Tea is the world's second most popular drink next to water!
• Tea production per year is around the 5 million tonne mark
• Today, India and China are the largest producers and consumers of tea. India, China, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Indonesia account for over 75% of the tea exports in the world.
• Unlike coffee and cocoa, most of the tea is grown in large plantations and millions of hired plantation workers live in the plantations. The exception is Kenya where 60% of the tea produced is from small-scale farmers.
Trade Tragedies in Tea
Like other world commodities such as coffee and cocoa, the price of tea in real terms has dropped by over 40% between 1970 and 1998.
To compensate for the loss of revenue, the producer countries, which depend on foreign income, try to export more and this simply exacerbates the problem (supply outstripping demand).
It was not until 2009 that some releif came via supply and demand evening out, producing 10-20% increase in pricing in that year alone. Strong growth was then maintained until 2013. Since then prices have declined slowly again. See this report http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4480e.pdf
The living and working conditions of the plantation workers varies from region to region, but by and large it is poor:
• The wages of tea plantation workers is often below the national average.
• There is a high incidence of medical problems faced by plantation workers as they are exposed to large amounts of pesticides like DDT, which are banned in the consumer countries but freely used in the developing countries.
• A very large number of children work in the plantations alongside their parents, as they rarely have access to schooling. And without schooling there is little hope that the children will do anything else but follow in the footsteps of their parents.
Tea Facts in Brief
All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, a warm-weather evergreen. How the fresh leaves of the tea plant are processed and their level of contact with oxygen determine resulting types of tea. During oxidation, tea leaves undergo natural chemical reactions that result in distinctive color and taste characteristics. Green tea is not oxidized at all—the leaves are steamed, rolled and dried while black tea is allowed to oxidize for two to four hours. Oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black teas, in that the leaves are only partially oxidized.
Tea is grown in thousands of tea gardens or estates around the world, resulting in thousands of flavorful variations.
- Like wines, each tea takes its name from the district in which it's grown, and each district is known for producing tea with unique flavor and character.
- Tea is also divided by grades, determined by leaf size. Smaller sized leaves are used in tea bags while the larger sized leaves can be found in packaged loose tea.
Herbal teas do not come from Camellia sinensis, but are an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers of other plants. They lack many of the unique characteristics of tea and are not linked with the research on the potential health benefits of traditional teas.
Varieties: Black, Green, Oolong and White teas all come from the same plant, a warm-weather evergreen named Camellia sinensis. Differences among the four types of tea result from the various degrees of processing and the level of oxidization.
- Black tea is oxidized for up to 4 hours
- Oolong teas are oxidized for 2-3 hours. As a result, the tea leaves undergo natural chemical reactions, which result in taste and color changes, and allows for distinguishing characteristics.
- Green & White teas are not oxidized after processing; they most closely resemble the look and chemical composition of the fresh tealeaf.
- Oolong tea is midway between Black and Green teas in strength and colour.
Look through our Fairtrade tea range for a tea that you enjoy and support those who produce it.
Grown In: Much of the world’s tea is grown in mountainous areas 3,000 – 7,000 feet (1000 to 2300 metres) above sea level, situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in mineralrich soil. Leading tea-producing countries include Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
History: Tea is nearly 5,000 years old. It was discovered in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung, known as the “Divine Healer,” when as legend goes, some tea leaves accidentally blew into the Emperor’s pot of boiling water. In the 1600’s, tea became highly popular throughout Europe and the American colonies. Tea played a dramatic part in the establishment of the United States of America. In 1767 the British Government put a tax on the tea used by American colonists. Protesting this “taxation without representation,” the colonists decided to stop buying tea and refused to allow tea ships to be unloaded. One December night in 1723, men dressed as Native Americans boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and threw more than 300 chests of tea into the sea. This now famous Boston Tea Party, in protest of the British tea tax, was said to be one of the acts leading to the revolutionary War.
Anna, Duchess of Bedford, is credited with creating Afternoon Tea in 1840, when she began making tea with a light snack around 4:00 p.m. to ward off “that sinking feeling.” High Tea originated with the rural and working class British, who would return to their homes at about 6:00 p.m. for a meal of potted meats, fish, cheese, salads, sweets, and a pot of strong tea. The U.S. played an important role in the history of tea, inventing the tea bag and iced tea, both in 1904. Recently, the U.S. has led the rest of the world in marketing convenient Ready-To Drink forms of tea in bottles.
Tea is an all-natural and environmentally sound product from a renewable source. The tea plant is naturally resistant to most insects; oxidation of the tea leaf is a natural process; and, many tea packers use recycled paper for packaging.
Tea is a refreshing beverage that contains no sodium, fat, carbonation, or sugar. It is virtually calorie-free. Tea helps maintain proper fluid balance and may contribute to overall good health. Tea contains flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds that are believed to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe, over time, damage elements in the body, such as genetic material and lipids, and contribute to chronic disease.
From the American Tea Association http://www.teausa.com/general/501g.cfm