January is National Hot Tea Month, and there are so many reasons to celebrate! First of all, tea is a nice change from all the holiday hot cocoa. Second, studies suggest hot tea can help with weight loss goals and fighting viruses. And finally, hot tea is an environmentally friendly choice, as is takes far less energy to produce tea than coffee. On top of that, a number of tea producers are Fair Trade Certified – meaning workers on the tea plantations have fair labor conditions and wages – and offer other environmental benefits.
Below are a few of our favorite Fair Trade finds, perfect for any tea lover!
Ito En takes recycling to the next level, turning used tea leaves into dozens of products, from park benches to plaster boards. The Japanese company has helped develop a process that can turn tea leaves into a synthetic resin used to create small items such as ballpoint pens and large items such vending machines. Tea leaves can also be turned into building and packing materials, such as plaster boards used in construction and boxes used to ship tea. Ito En offers a range of loose and bag tea, from traditional oolong to aged pu-erh and powdered matcha.
The Tea Spot
Founder Maria Uspenski discovered the benefits of making and drinking loose leaf tea while she fought ovarian cancer. Now, her B Corp-certified company donates 10 percent of sales – in the form of tea and teaware – to organizations that support cancer wellness. In addition to its numerous handcrafted tea varieties, The Tea Spot also produces Steepware®, a line of lead- and BPA-free teapots, cups, tumblers and infusers.
Choice Organic Teas
Every tea sold by Choice Organic Teas since it started in 1989 has been organic, including decaffeinated, herbal, white, black and green. The company stresses that this process is better for the soil, wildlife and workers. Not only are the tea growing and handling processes organic, but the Seattle facility where teas are packaged is also certified organic. In addition, the Seattle warehouse offsets 100 percent of its electricity use, recycles materials and reduces its water use.
The only tea available from Llacuna is a Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. But this nonprofit donates half of those profits to Amnesty International, so tea pickers in Sri Lanka can have better working conditions. The tea is offered in two types of packages – a reusable tin or a simple refill pouch if you have your own tin. Llacuna is a public charity that focuses on promoting sustainable development and supporting community initiatives.
In addition to offering a wide selection of teas, from chai to rooibos, Adagio Teas customers can also create their own blend or pick from other customer-created blends in its Fandom section. Whether you're into Hamilton, Harry Potter or superheroes, you can find a concoction to fit your mood or interest. Other gifts ideas include wedding favors, a tea of the month club and teas based on the zodiac. The company also offers customers the chance to help direct its giving – for example, customers were asked to vote on which project their shipping carbon offsets should be directed to.
Five Mountains specializes in hand harvesting large leaf and whole leaf tea grown sustainably in native gardens of Southeast Asia. This method preserves the ancient ecosystems in which these heirloom varieties are grown, and the teas are said to have higher healthy antioxidant levels due to their genetics. In addition, the company has developed a biodegradable and home-compostable pouch for its whole leaf teas which is made of wood pulp.