Great tea is our business first, last and always so we make sure we take it seriously. Not only do we want the finest and best-tasting tea, we also want to make sure our supplies come from producers who look after their workers and the environment.
Our teas come from all over the world, from plantations and farms of all shapes and sizes, so ensuring the ethical integrity of our supply chain could be an administrative nightmare. Luckily, we’ve been able to take advantage of the excellent work being done by the Ethical Tea Partnership, a non-profit-making international alliance of tea companies which works for a thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable. The ETP monitors and certifies producers and encourages and supports them to achieve sustainable growing practices, as well as ensuring fair treatment of workers and safe working conditions.
Examples of the ETP in practice include promoting of gender equality, family friendly working conditions (including the provision of crèches for working mothers), promoting collective bargaining and opposing discrimination and harassment. And there are specific, local issues as well: local conditions require our Ceylon and Assam teas to be grown on elephant-friendly plantations, promoting awareness of techniques for living and working side-by-side with these lovely (but occasionally dangerous and damaging) animals.
All this means we pay a premium for our teas, but we never doubt that it’s worth it. And we not naïve enough to think that merely paying more money or more lip-service to a cause is enough. It’s a long, slow road but we can point to the ETP’s successes year on year. By working with people who are committed to achieving real change, we can help everyone involved get closer to the goal.