The Trade of a Cup of Tea


I happen to love tea. (Thanks, cap’n). It’s something of a cultural thing for my family, because every family member of mine loves a hot cup of tea and often used to participate in scheduled tea times when I was younger. I probably drink at least three cups a day, sometimes a little bit more, and I also collect mugs and teacups with which to drink my little cup of heaven. Tea is also a source of interest for rituals and traditions in other cultures, which means I find the whole thing even more fascinating than the average person might. Anyway, I was sitting with my tea cup a little earlier and started thinking about Non Government Organizations and wondered, what do Tea and NGOs have in common?

Well, I did a little searching, and I found several organizations that deal with the fair trade of tea. I guess before I get into that, we should talk a little bit about why fair trade is a big thing. I’m sure you’ve seen other NGOs and organizations like Starbucks and brand names make an effort to brand things with a Fair Trade label, but what you might not have known is that it’s a thing because many people tend to be exploited in different parts of the world for the harvesting of many different types of crops, including tea and coffee. These people often work for very little compensation in harvesting and preparing the tea leaves for shipping and consumption, and a portion of these works also tend to be exploited children, which is really, really sad.

tea farmers

It also falls under international human rights laws. That’s where Fair Trade comes in. Fair Trade is an effort on the part of international communities and companies to pay fair wages to those who harvest and prepare the tea leaves so they can live more comfortable lives and make a home for themselves and their families. It’s also an effort to prevent modern slavery from continuing and thus keeping children especially out of harsh jobs. The organization I found, called the Ethical Tea Partnership, teams up with a number of other NGOs and International bodies to make this goal a reality. UNICEF, Save the Children, CARE International, Ethical Trade Initiative, and Nature Conservation Foundation are some of the organizations involved. Just from that list, it’s interesting to see what different aspects there are to the overarching issue of harvesting and selling tea.

Makes my cup seem a little bit more important as I sip from it. Think about the global trade implications the next time you take a sip of your favorite brew.


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