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The difference between sustainable and not sustainable tea

by Renco Verhoef |

Focusing on convenience, scale, volume and monoculture is not sustainable. We must act now for future generations.

 

Although tea and sustainability are often related to fair-trade, real sustainability does not discuss the symptoms, but tries instead to solve non-sustainable problems. In this article, I will try to explain the tea world we regard as non-sustainable. We can then compare this to Teazaar’s sustainable tea world approach. To avoid over-complication, I shall only compare the basics of a non-sustainable world of tea - one which is sustainable and, shall not discuss exceptions.

 

Why is the tea world not sustainable?

- Tea drinkers make decisions based on price and brand
- Tea companies offer branded teas for low prices
- Tea growers focus on pricing and volume

As a result, tea growers focus on scale - they choose convenient locations, use chemical fertilizers to make tea grow faster, spray pesticides to control pests and herbicides to control weeds. Moreover, tea pickers who are exposed with these chemicals do not get paid reasonable wages.

All of this results in an average product. Tea is therefore often only drunk when flavors, sugar or milk are added. With this setup, no one  benefits, and we  end up damaging the environment. Water gets polluted and soil degrades (see picture 1 and 2).

The solution so far – pretty packaging with a picture of natural products, filled with logos of various certification agencies. What this does is only increase the costs of the end-product, with tea growers footing the bill and consumers paying the price. This leads to worsening tea growing conditions and even lower wages for the tea pickers.

The quality of tea has become so poor that tea drinkers nowadays are not able to recognize the natural taste of tea anymore. We have gotten so used to adding flavors and sweeteners because of poor quality teas.

In this chain, nobody can be blamed for harming the environment:

- Tea drinkers only drink what they know and have no alternative
- Tea companies can only survive when they supply branded teas at low prices
- Tea growers can only survive when they produce big volumes of low-priced tea

A non-sustainable tea world.

This non-sustainable world is only getting less sustainable.

We have thought many years for a solution and we think the answer lies in cooperation.

 

The Teazaar approach

- Tea drinkers make decisions based on taste and quality
- Tea shop owners offer a selection based on local terroir, and won’t offer any tea with chemicals
- Tea growers grow only natural tea in biodiverse tea gardens

 

Teazaar tea drinkers (we call them tea lovers) find all information about the tea they drink and the location of local tea sellers offering sustainable tea. Moreover, tea drinkers find all the information of the tea grower that the tea shop owner is buying from.

As a result, consumers are offered a clear choice between a tea with chemicals or without and are able to taste the difference. On Teazaar, they can find pictures of the tea gardens and see which ones are biodiverse and which ones are not. Through the comments section on the Teazaar website, they can as well find which tea shops are professional and who provide further information about the teas.

Tea growers in turn, produce good-quality teas - in biodiverse tea gardens where they get paid the prices that managing their tea gardens require. Without the use of chemicals and in a natural environment, working in the tea garden becomes a great job where tea lovers from all over the world would want to visit.

Tea lovers gather in tea shops, taste and select their favorite teas and tea shop owners sell directly to them.

More and more small-scale tea gardens join Teazaar, as a result tea shop owners are offered an unlimited choice of high quality, hand-picked teas. All with a unique taste from unique terroirs.

- No more just for convenience, only high quality.
- No more large-scale monoculture tea farms destroying natural resources
- No more big volumes of average tasting tea
- No more uniform taste, where additives are almost necessary to make the tea drinkable.

 

A Sustainable Tea World

A world of tea, where the environment and everyone benefits. For us, this is a no-brainer: if you like to drink tea, then only drink tea from natural tea gardens. Drink natural tea and you change the world of tea.

We consider it strange that most tea gardens are not sustainable. The sustainable approach is the simplest one - once the environment is healthy, the tea garden takes care of itself. There is not too much a tea grower needs to do, it just requires patience.

We work together

Teazaar is designed to change the world of tea into a sustainable one. We are not a business. Our aim is not to earn money. However, in order to make the difference, we understand that small-scale, sustainable tea gardens, need to survive and professional tea shops need to survive too. Teazaar gives them the opportunity to buy and sell the best and most natural teas for reasonable prices. There are no middlemen involved. Teazaar does require a small fee per successful transaction, but will reinvest this back into our mission. We visit all tea gardens, help professional tea shops, join tea fairs, research tea and sustainable tea growing methods, and of course keep improving the Teazaar platform.

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