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Posts Tagged ‘Fair Trade Certified’

Recently, I have seen many retailers stating they offer for sale Fair Trade Tea.  In addition to the “certified organic” label on tea, I have begun to see “Fair Trade” labels as well. Even articles in tea publications are talking about “Fair Trade Tea”. What is all the fuss about?

According to Wikipedia, Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.

Considering I only recently heard about the Fair Trade movement, I initially assumed – albeit erroneously, that the movement was fairly new. It just goes to show that when we think we know it all… we usually don’t. The  Fair Trade Movement began in the 1940’s and 1950’s with attempts to commercialize goods in Northern markets (Wikipedia Contributors, 2002).  Ten Thousand Villages, a non-governmental organization (NGO) within the Mennonite Central Committee (NCC) and SERRV International were the first to develop fair trade supply chains in developing countries (Wikipedia Contributors, 2002).  At that time the products were sold mostly in churches or fairs. However, the famous adage… “you’ve come a long way baby!” is most appropriately applied to the Fair Trade Movement of today. The 1960’s shaped the Movement into a political gesture against neo-imperialism with radical student movements targeting multinational corporations with concerns that traditional business models were flawed. You may remember the slogan that gained a great deal of popularity, “Trade not Aid”.

125px-transfairIn 1998, out of the rapid growth of the 1960’s emerged organizations like TransFair USA, “a unique business model that partners industry, farmers, and US consumers to promote equitable trade”.  But “Who is TransFair USA and what type of services do they provide?” As stated on their website, TransFair USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is one of twenty members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.  That explains the “WHO”, but not the “WHAT?”  Further research revealed that the organization audits transactions between US companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source, in order to guarantee that the farmers and farm workers behind Fair Trade Certified goods were paid a fair, above-market price.

I’m sure you are wondering, “how does this relate to tea?”  TransFair USA offers The Fair Trade Certified Tea and Herb Program which includes products derived from the Tea plant of the Camellia family (Camellia sinensis and/or Camellia assamica), Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), and plants in the Mint genus (Mentha), including Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Spearmint (Mentha spicata).  Fair Trade Certified tea was launched in 2001, rooibos in 2005, and chamomile, hibiscus and mint in 2006.  There are over 70 FLO-certified tea estates and small-scale producer groups in 11 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. This and additional information can be found on their website. Or click HERE to find Fair Trade certified retailers.

Another such organization is the Fair Trade Federation.  “Founded in the late 1970’s, the Fair Trade Federation evolved when individual alternative trade organizations began holding yearly conferences for groups working in fair trade. In 1994, the group incorporated formally as the North American Alternative Trade Organization (NAATO); and, the following year, changed its named to the Fair Trade Federation. Since then, FTF has focused on supporting fully committed businesses in order to expand markets for artisans and farmers around the world.”

Within Fair Trade, there are two types of organizations: Product Certification –  TransFair USA and Organizational Evaluation – Fair Trade Federation. Fair Trade Federation is responsible for evaluating organizations for their full commitment to fair trade principles (no matter what kind of product they sell).

125px-ftomarkIf  you live outside of North America, fear not, you can get connected with Fair Trade producers, retailers, and organizations through The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).  According to their website, WFTO  is the global representative body of over 350 organisations committed to 100% Fair Trade.  The WFTO prides itself in being the “authentic voice of Fair Trade and a guardian of Fair Trade values”.

Upon further reading, I learned that WFTO operates in 70 countries across 5 regions, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North American and the Pacific Rim. With elected global and regional boards, WFTO creates market access through policy, advocacy, campaigning, marketing and monitoring. “It is the only global network whose members represent the Fair Trade chain from production to sale.”

The Fair Trade Organizations promote the growth, development, and fair treatment of developing countries around the world. Perhaps next time you make a tea purchase, you’ll be moved to select Certified Fair Trade products.

References:

1. Fair trade. (2009, March 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:15, March 24, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fair_trade&oldid=278987675

2. Fair Trade Certified. (n.d.).  Retrieved 00:15, March 24, 2009, from http://www.transfairusa.org/

3. Fair Trade Federation. (n.d.).  Retrieved 00:15, March 24, 2009, from http://www.fairtradefederation.com/

4. World Fair Trade Organization. (2009, Feruary 9) Retrieved 00:15, March 24, 2009, from http://www.wfto.com/index.php

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d_1002There is no better way to spend the end of a hectic week than to enjoy a whole day void of  distractions, noise – including radio and television, and drama – the kids are out doing their own thing. As we speak, I am looking out my kitchen window into the backyard watching the leaves skip across the hard cold grass. While periodically peering around the island at the dogs sleeping peacefully on the floor. I chatted  with my husband on the phone as he drove to to my stepson’s basketball game and later laughed with my sister who called from her home in Mississippi. What an awesome moment in time to enjoy a hot, soothing, cup of tea. Today’s choice… Organic Earl Grey Supreme.

Composition: Organic Fair Trade Certified™ black tea leaves (Keemun and Yunnan blend) and 100% natural essential bergamot oil. Keemun and Yunnan (also known as Dian hong) are Chinese Black Teas. Yunnan’s key distinction from other black teas comes from its fine leaf buds or “golden tips”. Though blended with bergamot, I truly appreciate a tea with no artificial flavors. 

Dry Visual: Very dark almost black and twisted tea leaves. The tea appears to be a mix of broken leaves, a few stems, and even a few buds (characteristic Yunnan).  Thanks Rishi Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: A robust citrus aroma reminiscent of lemon or lime zest.

Flavor: Let me start by saying that Organic Earl Grey Supreme is the best Earl Grey I think I have tasted. The black tea is very smooth without a hint of bitterness. Immediately, I was reminded of Dawn, an unflavored black tea I recently discovered and fell in tea love.  Organic Earl Grey Supreme is blended extremely well – the bergamot adds wonderful complexity. While its natural citrus flavor is dominant, it is followed by the subtle, slightly malty taste of black tea. The finish is slightly floral.

Organic Earl Grey Supreme is surprisingly full-bodied. Though robust, it is easily enjoyed without sweetener. I believe the bergamot in conjunction with the natural character of the black tea adds a definite sweetness. However, if you decide on sweetener, only a little is required and I personally would never add milk or cream. Organic Earl Grey Supreme is delicious!

Liquor: A cross between a rich golden and reddish brown hue.

Brewing: It is recommended that 1 teaspoon of Organic Earl Grey Supreme is steeped for 4 minutes in boiling water. I steeped for the recommended time.

Manufacturer: Rishi Tea

Caffeine: Yes

Bergamot has a splendid way of transforming black tea from ordinary to extraordinary. And when paired with a quality black tea you end up with Organic Earl Grey Supreme. If you have had the opportunity to enjoy a cup, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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During the holiday season, many people go to the mall in search of the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. This year, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a Vivabox. I’m sure you are wondering, “what is a Vivabox?” The creators of Vivabox would say, “A vivabox is an exciting new product that combines the freedom of choice with the personal touch of a real gift.  This two layered gift can be the answer to all of your gift giving dilemmas.  The first layer is a gift inside the box that is intended to familiarize the recipient with the product.  The second layer is the gift card that can be redeemed for their gift selection from a menu of choices. ” You can check out their website for more details… I did.

So, translated into a real life experience, I received “The Gift of a Tea Experience” when I opened my “tea time” Vivabox. Contained within my Vivabox were seven different types of Numi Teas.  Numi is the vendor of a variety of  certified organic, Fair Trade, Kosher teas located in Oakland, California. There were five tea bags (two of each) – Aged Earl Grey,

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Italian Bergamot Black Tea; Temple of Heaven, Gunpowder Green Tea; Velvet Garden, White Rose – which I must say is a lovely cuppa tea. Very mild as is characteristic of white tea with an unexpectedly robust floral quality.; Ruby Chai, Spiced Rooibos; and Monkey King, Jasmine Green Tea.  Additionally, I was excited to see the inclusion of two blooming teas also known as art teas.

While I prefer loose teas there is something fun about receiving a box full of various flavors of tea. Like a kid in a candy store, I read each type of tea and immediately found myself looking up the websites for both Numi and Vivabox. As with Russian Nesting Dolls, where the opening of one contains yet another beautiful doll, I was excited to realize that the fun wasn’t over after opening the Vivabox. Found within the box was a plastic card, resembling a credit card with 16 digits printed on the front and further instructions on the back detailing how to redeem yet another gift.

After reviewing my gift options… isn’t that exciting?… I selected the Single Origins Tea Set.  Succinctly described as a beautiful tea gift that offers four Organic loose teas (my absolute favorite) from

img_10431India, Japan, China, and South Africa – Darjeeling, Genmaicha, White Rose, and Rooibis respectively. Eagerly, I anticipate my first cup of tea as I feel that each one was hand-picked especially for me.

Included in the set is a black ceramic teapot with matching cups all adorned with a floral design. A metal infuser (not shown in the picture) fits perfectly in the mouth of the pot for perfect straining every time.  It is simply not enough to describe this adorable set – the pictures speak for themselves. 

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Simply stated this was one of the best tea gifts I’ve ever received. A mixture of tea bags, blooming teas, loose teas, and teaware – a tea lover’s dream.

So, in nutshell, how does Vivabox work?

1.  You Pick The Theme. Do you have an idea as to what type of gift someone would like?  Select the Vivabox theme  you think they would enjoy the most.  

2.  Upon Receipt, The Recipient Will Try The Samples. They open the box and enjoy the gift inside.  The gift relates to the theme of the box.  

3.  The Recipient Chooses The Gift.  After enjoying the first gift, the recipient visits the Vivabox website to enter their card number found in the initial gift.    

Result:  You have given the perfect gift!  Ensuring that you have given the recipient exactly what he or she will most enjoy. 

My Vivabox provided me with a wonderfully unique tea experience. Other Vivabox gift experiences include: The Gift of Indulgence – gourmet to your door (the choice of a three-course gourmet meal for two… delivered directly to your door); The Gift of Massage – spa (enjoy a full body massage or facial); The Gift of Beauty – spa (enjoy a manicure and pedicure). Check out the Vivabox website to see all of their products.

Vivabox has taken the gift of tea to another level. If you haven’t experienced Vivabox for yourself now’s your opportunity. Then return to tell me about it. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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