A Nice Cup of Tea - Ethical Consumer Research Report

Jane Turner and Heather Webb
Publication Date: 
The global tea industry has a history of poor wages and working conditions, damaging biodiversity and overusing pesticides. Jane Turner and Heather Webb ask how we can help to make a better cup of tea.
After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world, with 70,000 cups drunk every second. Tea is a British institution. We are second only to Ireland in the global tea drinking league. In this guide we look at tea from the tea plant Camellia sinensis, an evergreen plant that grows mainly in tropical and subtropical climates and which contains caffeine. This includes black teas; like English Breakfast tea, Darjeeling and Earl Grey; and green, white, Oolong and Pu-erh teas. We rate over 25 brands on page 12. In addition, we look at non-caffeinated teas – rooibos and herbal and fruit infusions, like chamomile or peppermint. We rate 26 brands on page 18. Poor wages and conditions for tea workers remain the stand-out problem for tea. In response to concerns about declining living standards, a range of ethical initiatives are working to make the tea industry more equitable. But Oxfam reveals on page 10 that even Fairtrade standards have not managed to fully address the problem of a living wage.