Warning: New Tea Line Supports Small Farmers
By Ashley Symons, Equal Exchange Writer and Worker-Owner
We’re excited about the launch of our new line, which contains some of our classic teas like Organic English Breakfast, as well as some newbies like Organic Peppermint.
What’s most exciting to us about this tea launch is that it represents something completely different than what you see in the rest of the tea aisle. In the tea industry even “Fair Trade tea” often comes from plantations, which means tea pluckers have no ownership and little say over their daily work lives. It’s not the kind of Fair Trade we want to participate in.
Enter our model (which, actually, we’ve been building since 1988). This revamped line of 12 teas has a strong small farmer focus, but it’s still a work in progress. Currently we’re working with innovative producer groups in Sri Lanka, South Africa, India, and the United States. We’ll be introducing them to you over the next year in future newsletter articles. Their stories have inspired us, and we think they’ll inspire you, too.
There are many challenges that lie ahead in building a stronger small farmer supply chain in tea, but we believe that this new line is one giant step forward. Our hope is that, with your help, we will be able to transform the tea industry as successfully as we have in coffee, to one that offers an alternative to the plantation model. We hope that buying “Fair Trade tea” will instead mean supporting small farmers.
So now you’ve been warned: our new tea line is dramatically different from others you see on the shelf. We invite you to join us in building this exciting new supply chain - one that values the voice of small farmers, their products, and democracy in trade.