Discovering and tasting new tea is always a highlight of traveling to origin but contributing to and witnessing improvements in the tea industry is the most rewarding part of the journey.
One of the most promising improvements seen at origin this year is in the work fulfilled by the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) in India. The ETP, a London based organization whose mission is to sustain and improve the tea industry, focuses on collaboration, relationship building and working within a local context to better environmental and social conditions in the tea trade.
The Republic of Tea was one of the first US member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which means that each supplier we work with is registered with the ETP and therefore eligible to receive benefits that come with being part of the ETP community.
On a recent visit with suppliers in Assam, three notable examples of such benefits were witnessed:
* Employee Benefits – Workers are given fruit trees which provide a long-term food source. Sports matches and teams are organized for employees, which has proven to foster a great sense of community.
* Land Husbandry- Crop and soil management techniques are taught via workshops and experiential education, which results in better productivity, increased worker safety, improved water quality and pride in the workplace.
* Weeding Practices – workers are educated on specific weeding practices, for example, maintaining the presence of weeds between the rows of tea bushes – giving insects an alternative (to tea the plants) food source and helping lower the need for harmful pesticides.
Naturally, respect and responsibility go hand in hand with Tea Mind and so social and environmental accountability have been important principles of our charter from the beginning. In 2012, as The Republic of Tea celebrates 20 years of leading the tea revolution, the ETP will be celebrating 15 years of ensuring that our industry continues to thrive.