Archive for the 'Sustainability' Category

Fair Trade Feature – Singampatti Oothu Estate

woman_picking_tea_blog.jpgWondering what’s happening in the Fair Trade Certified tea estates that supply Arbor Teas with its exceptional organic teas?  Here is an update on the Singampatti Oothu Estate which supplies Arbor Teas with an organic, Fair Trade Certified black tea that is full-bodied, smooth, and subtly sweet with light to medium astringency.   It is one of our favorites!

The Oothu Singampatti Tea Estates cover the rolling hills of Tirunelveli in the Nilgiris district of southern India. The group of estates are surrounded by the tropical evergreen forests of the Kalakkad and Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.  Situated at the southern end of the Western Ghat mountain range, the Oothu Tea Garden is surrounded on all sides by rainforest that hosts a rich diversity of unique wildlife. Jungle corridors among the tea fields have been carefully preserved in order to maintain this rare natural ecosystem. A pioneer in sustainable tea production, Oothu was the first tea garden in India to adopt biodynamic principles and among the first in the country to become certified organic. Fair Trade Certified since 1995, Oothu Singampatti continues to make a significant social impact on the community

The Fair Trade price has enabled workers at Singampatti Group to establish various programs, including:

1)    Education — The Oothu Singampatti Estates provide scholarships, focusing on deserving children and those from the most impoverished families within the organization.

2)    Health — Health programs, implemented with Fair Trade revenue, contribute to primary care and also allow for specialized treatment that was previously unavailable to estate families. Additionally, life insurance now covers all workers and their families, and funeral expenses are provided.

“Fair Trade has reduced my burden by providing me the finances, which help me put my son in special care. I am thankful to the consumers who pay the extra premium, which reaches people like me and makes a difference.”  — Sita, Oothu worker with a son diagnosed with cerebral palsy

December 30 2009 | Fair Trade and Sustainability | No Comments »

10 Good Reasons To Shop At Arbor Teas This Earth Day… And Every Day!

Environmental Logos

So Earth Day 2009 is nearly upon us, and that seems like a good enough reason to show off what we’re doing here at Arbor Teas to reduce our impact on the planet.  We’re not usually ones for the “hard sell,” but this may be the one time of year that we’ll make an exception.  The degree to which we’ve minimized our environmental “footprint” is a real source of pride for us here at Arbor Teas, and every once in a while we can’t help but brag.  So, in case you were looking for a few more reasons for Arbor Teas to become your tea source (or if you just want to take comfort in knowing that your source for tea is doing everything it can think of to reduce it’s envirommental impact), here you go!

Reason #1 – Exclusively Organic Teas:  We are deeply committed to organic agriculture, offering an entire catalog of organic teas and tisanes. Organic farming excludes the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), resulting in a variety of benefits to flora and fauna, air and water qulity, and our climate. Arbor Teas offers one of the largest catalogs of USDA certified organic teas available.

Reason #2 – Green Packaging:  Our packaging is specially designed to minimize its “environmental footprint,” relying on parchment-lined paperboard and glassine-lined kraft paper instead of tin-plated steel.  This shift reduced the carbon emissions associated with our packaging by over 80%!

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April 21 2009 | Green Business and Sustainability | 1 Comment »

Save Water, Drink Tea!

Blue PlanetWith all of the attention that global warming has been given lately (for good reason), the carbon footprint of goods and services has come to dominate the conversation of reducing the environmental impact of what we buy, eat and use in our daily lives.  Because of this, we often forget about other environmental criteria worth considering, like global water consumption.  According to the recent publication “The World’s Water, 2008-2009″ (by Peter Gleick, et al,, it turns out that tea has a much smaller “water footprint” than coffee, requiring as little as one-fifth to one-tenth as much water!

This substantial difference is due in large part to the incredible thirst of the coffee tree in producing the cherries that coffee is made from, compared to the relatively water-efficient tea bush.  In fact, among all agricultural products, coffee is responsible for the greatest amount of “virtual” movement of water across the globe (from growing areas to consumption areas) tied up in the form of coffee beans.  So, save water… drink tea!!!

March 18 2009 | Sustainability | 2 Comments »

Why Global Warming Should Matter To Tea Lovers

SmokestackIn case there are those of you out there who wonder why an online tea company like Arbor Teas is so zealous about our environmental performance (and our impact on global warming), a recent article in Fresh Cup Magazine (one of the primary journals of the tea and coffee industry) just connected all of the dots for you. While we at Arbor Teas believe that running our business in a sustainable fashion is just the “right thing to do,” the Fresh Cup article points to a more potentially self-serving motivation. Early evidence (such as that identified by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes, or the IPCC) suggests that the effects of global warming are likely to have very serious impacts on the world’s ability to keep growing great tea (not to mention a long list of other agricultural products). While it’s not as though tea production will come to a screeching halt tomorrow, this certainly isn’t good news.

Global Warming’s Impact on Tea-Growing Regions

There is a substantial and growing body of evidence supporting the fact that atmospheric temperatures are on the rise worldwide. Unfortunately, a majority of the available data is skewed toward developed nations. Since much of the world’s tea production takes place in the developing world, there is less scientific data to evaluate when considering global warming’s potential impacts. However, anecdotal evidence from growers suggests that the tea-growing world is experiencing the same climate trends as have been identified by scientists elsewhere.

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August 25 2008 | Sustainability | 1 Comment »

Tips For The Eco-Savvy Tea Lover

Buying your tea from Arbor Teas is only the first step to enjoying tea in an eco-friendly fashion! Here are a few suggestions to make your tea habit a positive experience for you and the planet:

  1. Compost your tea leaves. Even after they’ve been steeped several times, tea leaves continue to be rich in nutrients which, when composted, can be valuable additions to gardens and potted plants. Just save your used tea leaves in a small container on the kitchen counter, and periodically toss them into your backyard compost bin!
  2. Recycle you tea packaging. Our paperboard canisters are specially-designed to be completely recyclable – just punch out the top and bottom and flatten (if your community requires it) and toss it into the paper recycling bin!
  3. Heat only the amount of water you need. Water takes a tremendous amount of energy to bring to a boil, so be conservative when filling the kettle! By heating only the amount of water you plan to use, you can keep your energy consumption to a minimum.
  4. Try cold-brewing your iced tea. Most households in America have a refrigerator plugged in at all times, so why not take advantage of it? Next time you’re making some iced tea, consider leaving the stove off and cold-brewing it in the fridge! It’s going to be on anyway, right? Admittedly, cold-brewed tea has a slightly different flavor profile than normal, hot-brewed tea, but if you’re making lots and lots of iced tea each week, this could be a modest energy-saver. Just put an infuser of your favorite tea leaves in a pitcher of water in the fridge for 10 to 12 hours (basically overnight). Remove the leaves when you’ve reached the desired strength, and you’re ready to go!

Got another idea? Leave a comment on this post or e-mail it to us at!

June 29 2008 | Sustainability | No Comments »

Unexpected Success at the World Tea Expo

As regular readers of SustainabiliTEA know, we recently returned from the World Tea Expo, where we were invited to address the subject of social and environmental responsibility in the tea industry. Before heading off to Las Vegas, our idea of a “successful” trip was this: sit in front of a room full of tea business owners/employees, describe our efforts to improve the social and environmental impact of our company, and maybe get some other people in the industry thinking along the same lines (or maybe even give them some tangible ways to take action). Well, the discussion during and after the session suggests that maybe this initial concept of “success” was achieved. There were many questions about green packaging, carbon offsets, organic certification and fair trade licensing, which, at least to us, hinted at a greater interest in (and awareness of) these issues. But the real “feel good moment” occurred a few hours later on the trade show floor.

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June 29 2008 | Green Business and Sustainability | 2 Comments »

Earth Day Reflections on Sustainability with the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai LamaAs part of this year’s Earth Day activities in the City of Ann Arbor, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama delivered a special Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability. It was sponsored by the University of Michigan Office of the President and by the Center for Sustainable Systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment. As an alumnus of the School of Natural Resources, I was very fortune in being able to get tickets for Aubrey and I to attend.  His Holiness has long held views on the subject of the environment and has talked about it in the past. One prior address carried these statements:

“We are also being drawn together by the grave problems we face: overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, and an environmental crisis that threatens our air, water, and trees, along with the vast number of beautiful life forms that are the very foundation of existence on this small planet we share. I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for future generations, the proper care of the environment.”

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April 20 2008 | Miscellaneous and Sustainability | 1 Comment »

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