One of the common questions among newcomers to the tea industry is the issue of fair trade. Fair trade is known as paying a higher price to the people who produce the product, as well as advocating higher social standards among the producer’s community.
It is not surprising that this movement started in the more corrupt developing countries, where working conditions of citizens are generally not top priority to a ruthless dictator. These countries usually come from in either Africa or South America, regions where coffee is a huge crop.
Because of this, buying Fair Trade coffee became an important issue to socially responsible consumers. The next logical step for the general population was to look for Fair Trade teas as well.
A quick glance at the tea section in most supermarkets, however, will give the shoppers feeling that the tea industry does not have the same sense of compassion as their caffeinated cousin – compared to coffee, most tea companies are not Fair Trade certified. This is not because tea manufacturers enjoy tormenting their workers, though, rather than most have had this structure in place for quite a while now.
One of the best examples of the strength of the workers in the tea industry is a strike among tea workers in the Darjeeling region of India. They demanded to receive a raise in wages. No tea will be shipped from their gardens until a compromise is reached.
This is of great significance, as it just so happens to come right as the First Flush Darjeelings, among the most anticipated teas of the year for practically the entire tea industry, are being produced.
In a nutshell, the entire tea world is being held at bay by a few hundred workers from about 81 different gardens.
If that doesn’t show the power of the tea worker, nothing will!