Have you ever wondered what this certification is all about? There certainly is enough promotion of Fair Trade Products these days and we are often asked for teas that are certified in this way.
Here are some quick facts about what Fair Trade is and how it works.
What is Fair Trade
Fair Trade certification identifies teas produced by gardensÂ and cooperatives in the tea production. Fair Trade standardsÂ are:
- Guarantee fair wages and decent working conditions
- Establish a Fair Trade premium, managed by the workers for the benefit of their community
- Promote the use of sustainable farming methods that are safer for humans and the environment
How Fair Trade Works
The best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that 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 standards. For tea, the standards, include:
- Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
- Absence of forced or child labor
- Freedom of associations and organizations
- Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals
While it is great that there is a label that helps the consumer purchase products that align with their values, it needs to be said that this certification is not inexpensive and smaller tea gardens simply do not have the funds to pay for it. In order to pay proper wages, they have to make a choice to get certified or spend the money on their workers. A tea estate owner in Sri Lanka once explained to me that he provides housing, schools, health care and retirement benefits for all his workers, but chooses not to have his teas Fair Trade certified since the true benefactor is the in most cases the retailer who marks the tea up because of the certification – yet none of those funds ever reach the source.
Trust your tea purveyer to buy from respectful tea growers and ask questions about the origin and production circumstance of the teas offered.