14 December, 2016

Good cuppa - 10 facts about Fairtrade tea

cup of tea, leaves and tea pot
by Anna Galandzij for the Fairtrade Foundation

What does a good cup of tea mean to you? With the average Briton drinking 876 cups of tea a year, this clearly is a valid question and one to ponder on International Tea Day.

1.The very first Fairtrade certified tea was launched by Clipper Teas in 1994. Two decades on, Clipper still works closely with its tea producers, showing it is possible for a business to offer a great product while putting the interests of people at its heart.

2. There are currently over 364,000 people involved in Fairtrade tea, either as smallholder farmers or as workers on plantations.

3. Kenya is the largest producer of Fairtrade tea, followed by India and Uganda.


4. Low tea prices and poor wages mean tea growing communities struggle with extreme poverty. In 2014, for instance, prices of tea in Malawi fell to $1.15 per kilo, which was below the cost of production. Those who sold on Fairtrade terms earned at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per kilo, which acts as a safety net by covering their average production cost.

5. With Fairtrade, tea producers also receive the Fairtrade Premium of $0.50 for every kilo of tea sold. In 2015, tea farmers and estate workers earned more than $6.3m in Premiums, which they invested mainly in social projects, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Watch farmers in Kenya and Tanzania talk about the impact of the Premium on their lives.

Tea 2

Maheve Secondary School, 520 students, has benefited from the Fairtrade Premium from Kibena Tea Estate in Tanzania, which has built four classrooms, two laboratories, two staff quarters and two hostels that house 120 students. Copyrights Simon Rawles

6. The average size of a Fairtrade tea farmer’s plot in East Africa is just 0.4 hectares. By comparison, the average size of a family farm in the UK is 50 hectares.

7. Climate change is increasingly affecting tea growing regions. Through projects such as ADAPTea, Fairtrade supports tea producers to adapt to changing weather patterns. “The experience showed that knowledge is power,” says Victor Biwot from Kenyan cooperative Sireet OEP, which has run an extensive reforestation project to provide shade to tea bushes and improve soil fertility. Find out more here.

Tea 3

8. Fairtrade is working to achieve better impacts for tea workers through its own Fairtrade Hired Labour Standard and by contributing to industry-wide initiatives, such as Malawi 2020 and Tea 2030. One of the current pieces of work being carried out by Fairtrade is how to introduce a living wage for workers on plantations and to empower them to directly negotiate better pay and working conditions. Here workers at Kibena Tea Estate in Tanzania share their views on Fairtrade.

9. Globally, Fairtrade tea is most popular in the UK, with Brits buying over 80% of the total supply.

10. Currently, there are more than 400 Fairtrade-certified tea products in the UK, including: everyday and premium; white, green and infusions; decafe and organic. The range – in flavour, quality, and price – is astounding.

A cup of Fairtrade  Winter Wondermint, anyone?


Observed annually on December 15, International Tea Day was launched in 2005 to draw global attention to the impact of trade on people who grow tea, following requests for price support and fairer trading practices. Fairtrade has been at the forefront of the drive to ensure a fair deal for those who need it most – tea estate workers and small-scale growers.

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