Our fairly traded, organic teas come from small-scale tea farms in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa. While most tea on the market (even Fair Trade certified) comes from large plantations and estates, Equal Exchange partners with family farms and small-scale land owners. We buy our delicious, organic tea directly from democratically organized groups of these tea farmers — meaning workers, rather than plantation owners, reap the benefits.
Our authentic Fair Trade principles are still uncommon in the tea industry. We believe in trade that strengthens the autonomy of small farmer organizations, promotes among farmers a sense ownership and control over one’s business, encourages entrepreneurial attitudes and a risk-taking culture, strengthens and builds community and encourages debate and participatory decision making. We believe that “Fair Trade” must mean “small farmer,” and our relationships reflect that.
Each of our producer partners is unique, with a storied history of ambition, struggle and success over the years they have worked to set themselves apart in a historically oppressive industry.
In India, we partner with Tea Promoters of India (TPI), Potong Tea Garden, Small Farmer’s Tea Project and Mineral Springs Co-op. In Sri Lanka, we partner with Small Organic Farmer’s Association (SOFA) and Bio Foods. In South Africa, we partner with the Wupperthal Original Rooibos Co-operative. There is still much work to be done in changing the tea industry, but these dedicated farmers, with your support, are paving the way.
This tea is grown the Wupperthal Original Rooibos Co-operative in the Cederburg Region of South Africa, a democratically organized group of farmers who have been growing rooibos for generations. Pushed off their land in the 1800s, they have endured the apartheid era and struggled to reclaim their livelihoods and thrive on the fringes of fertile land.
Now they grow their tea in the rocky terrain of the Cederburg Mountains, which presents numerous challenges – though the slow growth of their rooibos actually produces a higher quality tea. Today, 98% of the world's rooibos is grown on plantations, making the Wupperthal Co-operative a unique example of alternative tea production.
about our tea partners and supply chain on the blog!