Fair Trade Certified
As avid tea drinkers and folks who make their living in the tea industry, we believe that we have a responsibility to support a higher standard of living and a sustainable future for the individuals who bring us these fantastic products. For this reason, Arbor Teas has committed itself to offering one of the widest selections of Fair Trade Certified® loose leaf teas available, and we celebrate the Fair Trade Certified® Communities from which they originate. Check out the following video to learn more about Fair Trade.
Fair Trade, the Movie (2006) is an 8-minute video with killer music, gorgeous images of Fair Trade communities, and even a cameo with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam.
Millions of growers and workers worldwide have dedicated themselves to the production of tea. We have their knowledge, skill and artistry to thank for this exquisite product. Most tea is grown and manufactured in developing countries, which often lack fair wages and suitable working conditions. However, the best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that high-quality specialty teas depend on the people and the environment that produce them. Fair Trade Certification verifies and acknowledges the commitment of these producers to meeting internationally recognized Fair Trade standards, which include:
• Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
• Absence of forced or child labor
• Freedom of association and organization
• Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals
• Adherence to national and international labor protections, including those established by the International Labor Organization of the United Nations and, in India, by the Plantation Labor Act
One reason is that the Fair Trade movement in the tea industry is still growing, and many authentic varieties remain unavailable in a Fair Trade Certified® form. However, we search constantly for new Fair Trade Certified® products that meet our standards, and will add them to our inventory as they become available. Additionally, because Fair Trade focuses on the developing world, teas from Japan (where fair market and labor conditions already prevail) will not be found under the Fair Trade Certified® label. If you find a "Japanese" tea somewhere bearing the Fair Trade Certified® logo, it’s probably been grown somewhere else.
For more information on Fair Trade Certified® products visit, www.fairtradeusa.org.
We obtain our tea from many Fair Trade Certified tea gardens in India, China, and Sri Lanka. Here is some information about a few of them:
Oothu Singampatti Estates is one of several holdings of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd. (BBTC). The Oothu Singampatti Tea Estate was started in 1929 as a new plantation in the Manjolai Manimuttar hills in the eastern mountain region of southern India. In 1965, the Singampatti Group was founded to manage this estate. This group has three distinct operations, but Oothu Singampatti is particularly interesting as it was the first of the three tea gardens to adopt biodynamic principles and the first in the country to become certified organic.
Oothu is situated among the tropical evergreen forests of the Kalakkad and Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. These forests are some of the best preserved in the world and are home to a wide variety of plants and animals. The local communities have been able to preserve the native flora and fauna extraordinarily well over the years. Oothu Singampatti practices 100 percent organic tea cultivation and production, and parts of the other gardens—Manjolai and Manimuttar—are fully organic certified. The organization has always strived to achieve the most sustainable agricultural practices. This history of integrated sustainability made the organization an easy fit for Fair Trade when the group gained certification in 1995. The Fair Trade premium has enabled Oothu Singampatti to establish various social and productive programs.
Estate workers voted to purchase computers for use in estate schools. Children of estate workers will be able to use the new computers to supplement their studies in the classroom. The estate also allocated educational stipends to 131 children of estate workers in 2008 and 2009. Many of the estate workers wish for different careers for their children, as farming can be physically demanding work for a modest financial return. Through education programs, children can learn professional trades, earn higher incomes, and eventually help support and care for their parents.
Microfinance Programs and Funeral Funds
The area of microfinance has garnered much attention in the past 10 years, especially in South Asia. Microfinance includes not only small loans for home-based businesses (the most familiar use of the term), but also savings and insurance programs. The estate workers voted this year to use Fair Trade premium monies to fund life insurance plans for estate workers. It’s often the case in the developing world that when a family’s major breadwinner dies, the survivors are left with nothing to cover funeral costs or support themselves until other family members find work. Life insurance offers a buffer for the poor so that even in times of tragedy, the family is provided for. The estate workers of Oothu Singampatti are also eligible to receive funeral financing assistance via a program created and funded through Fair Trade premiums.
Fair Trade premiums finance training classes in occupational health and safety for all female workers on the tea estate. Safety training helps increase crop productivity and protect workers.
Healthcare and Medical Expenses
Oothu Singampatti’s management provides free medical treatment for workers at both government and private hospitals. Increasingly, workers are choosing private specialty hospitals to treat their needs. The Joint Body of Oothu Singampatti has set up a fund to assist workers with up to 25 percent of the cost of specialty care.
Arbor Teas is proud to offer tea produced at the Singampatti Oothu Estate. Try some Singampatti Oothu Estate Black Tea today!
The United Nilgiri Tea Estates Co. Ltd. (UNTE) is located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu in the southern cone of South India. The group is comprised of four neighboring tea estates: Chamraj, Korakundah, Allada Valley, and Devabetta. The tea gardens are set among rolling hills covered in dense vegetation and natural forest interspersed with small villages at elevations above 6,500 feet, which enables the production of black, green, and oolong orthodox teas of distinctive quality. At 8,000 feet, Korakundah is the highest tea estate in India, and is awaiting accreditation from the Guinness Book of Records as such. Historically, the living and working conditions of the laborers on remote tea plantations, such as Chamraj, have been notoriously poor. In 1951, the Plantation Labour Act was one of the first attempts to make estate companies responsible for the welfare of their workforce, including the provision of housing, healthcare and education.
The Fair Trade premium has enabled United Nilgiri Tea Estates to invest in social, educational and productive programs.
This pension scheme was established in 1999 and is extremely popular with the workers. Because children are moving out of the region to pursue their education, they are no longer able to care for their parents in the traditional way. Thanks to the Fair Trade premium, workers receive pensions when they retire to help support themselves financially. Not only do former laborers not need to work, but they are also able to build their own homes under the pension scheme. So far, 164 workers have benefited from these pensions.
School Fees and Scholarships
The premium has provided crafting equipment and abacuses to the estate primary school and has paid for the expansion of the school playground, benefiting 280 children.
School Infrastructure and Assets
The estate has also helped construct a Fair Trade-funded computer lab for secondary students, as well as laboratory facilities for biology, physics, and chemistry students. The premium has also been used for the purchase of school buses, so that the students who live as much as 18 miles away can get to school. In addition, some fees have been allocated to pay for a hostel for students who live even farther from the school.
Household and Community Appliances
Tea workers have purchased pressure cookers, gas stoves, and gas bottles with the Fair Trade premium. With new cooking equipment, the women no longer need to spend hours collecting firewood from the forest. Fair Trade premiums have also paid for a satellite TV connection and furniture for the community hall.
Arbor Teas is proud to offer tea produced at the Korakundah Estate. Try some Korakundah Estate Niligri Black Tea today!
Situated in the Wuyuan Mountains of China in the Jiangxi region, the Da Zhang Shan Tea Garden maintains the region’s 1,200-year reputation as the “golden triangle” of exceptional tea production. The farmers of Da Zhang Shan are traditional tea cultivators and have never used chemical fertilizers or pesticides on their property, which made it easy to achieve organic certification in 1997. The cooperative is dedicated to expanding its membership, improving working conditions and economic efficiency, and spreading the word about organic agriculture and environmental sustainability.
In 2001, the Da Zhang Shan Organic Tea Farmer Association became the first producer organization in China to gain Fair Trade certification. The group has more than 5,400 member households; moreover, the proportion of women members has increased dramatically since its inception. Today, women make up almost 35 percent of the membership. The association extends membership not only to farmers but also to the technicians and tea processors who handle the teas and prepare them for sale to buyers.
Da Zhang Shan farmers and workers live in eight townships around the Da Zhang Shan Mountains. The tea gardens are located on the hills surrounding the villages. This scenic mountain range is still rich in natural resources and unpolluted by the industrialization that characterizes many metropolitan areas.
The cooperative is governed by a board of democratically elected representatives who make business and community development decisions for the farmers and workers. Since the farmers of the region generally own their own land and have no problem growing food, the cooperative focuses mostly on improving working conditions and funding children’s education. The Da Zhang Shan General Assembly says Fair Trade has helped to promote positive change in the communities. Many successful projects have become visible incentives for other tea producers to join the association. Da Zhang Shan farmers earn 15 to 20 percent more from tea sales than other families in the area.
Da Zhang Shan farmer members have devised a number of projects aimed at improving education in the area. Workers voted to give $120 to each of the tea farmers’ children to support their enrollment in high school and universities. In 2009, the cooperative members built a new dormitory for the students of the Tuocuan middle school. These education investments are particularly important for young girls in the community, who are the first to lose the opportunity to earn an education when a family’s funds are low.
Supporting Organic Agriculture
Da Zhang Shan provides technical assistance and training programs in order to develop farmers’ organic agricultural knowledge, which will help them to preserve their environment and protect the health of the workers. In March 2009, the cooperative sponsored visitors from BCS and CIQ to give farmers training in organic agricultural maintenance of natural environments. BCS and CIQ are organic certification companies that offer technical assistance training programs in organic cultivation. Trainings in organic agriculture and management are held at least twice a year. In 2009, Fair Trade premiums helped purchase improved varieties of tea seedlings for farmers to plant.
The association invested in new tea processing equipment to improve the quality of its tea and the living conditions of its tea workers. In 2009, Da Zhang Shan’s General Assembly voted to use Fair Trade premiums to rebuild parts of tea factories and member farms.
The association budgeted $50,000 for a microcredit program. This initiative provides family members of cooperative members with small loans to start their own businesses. There are currently 35 participants in the program.
Arbor Teas is proud to offer a variety of teas produced at the Da Zhang Shan Cooperative. Click on the following links to try some today!
"We give our tea plantation constant and natural assistance with biodynamic techniques. One look at our land, even to the unschooled eye, will show a forest teeming with wildlife and plant life, a bounty of the sky with butterflies and birds, and all these synergistic life forces show up in the cup."
-- Rajah Banerjee, Makaibari owner and manager
The Makaibari tea garden lies in the Darjeeling hills of northeastern India. In continuous operation since 1859, Makaibari is one of the oldest of all Indian tea gardens, and home to 610 tea workers and their families.
The Makaibari tea garden is a pioneer in innovative management. As early as 1971, garden manager Rajah Banerjee made the decision to switch production to a “permaculture”-based system, and since 1991 production has been 100% organic and biodynamic. Mr. Banerjee lives on the garden and takes great pride in the high quality of Makaibari teas, which have consistently been ranked among the best of all Darjeeling teas.
The Fair Trade premium has enabled the Makaibari Tea Estate to establish various social and productive programs:
Computer center: In 2004, Makaibari purchased two computers and a printer for a computer education program that benefits nearly 100 children.
Scholarship funds: Several young tea garden members have received scholarships to study horticulture at a center in Darjeeling.
Village electrification: Workers of Makaibari have installed electricity in their homes and villages.
Income generation: Makaibari helped repair bio-gas units and purchased natural gas for cooking and livestock for milk and dairy products, which workers then sold at local markets.
Arbor Teas is proud to offer a variety of teas produced at the Makaibari Tea Estate. Click on the following links to try some today!