What’s boiling in the tea sector?
Tea is, after water, world’s most popular beverage. And, if you brew it without heating too much water, tea is also a very sustainable beverage. Or at least, it can be.
After all, tea leaves also need to be responsibly sourced from farmers, sustainable agricultural practices have to be employed, and packaging needs to be environmentally friendly, too. For consumers this is not always easy to determine, but that is of course where we come in.
In our study of over a dozen popular German, Dutch and international tea brands, we have found considerable differences between brands. Leading the field are the German brands Lebensbaum (scoring 16/19) and GEPA (13/19), together with the Dutch brand Fairtrade Original (14/19). International brands, led by Lipton, Yogi Tea and Twinings, follow at a considerable distance (8/19).
Whereas certifications such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic used to be the exception rather than the rule, we found that such certifications have become the new normal. Indeed, many brands have set a target to phase out uncertified tea completely in the next few years. That is a wonderful development.
At the same time, we must note that such certifications do not guarantee that all farmers actually earn living wages or that tea is produced in climate-neutral fashion. While top-ranking brands make clear efforts in this direction, the tea sector has the potential to go much further. This is not only because it is able to increase the living standards of around 8 million Asian and African smallholder farmers. The tea sector can also ensure through sustainable agricultural methods and compostable packaging that in the production of tea more greenhouse gases are being stored in the soil than actually emitted.
Just imagine that: drinking a cup of tea would no longer increase your ecological footprint, but instead mean you are doing something good for the world!