Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea


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Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby beforewisdom » Oct 22nd, '11, 11:27

I am not a tea connoisseur.....far from it.....not even an amateur.

I recently tried green tea from Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange is a "fair trade" brand......they work directly with farmers in the 3rd world with the result being that the impoverished farmer gets more of the money from your purchase, rather than more ofit going to a middleman.

I think the green tea I had came from India.

It was also organic. My understanding that the reasons to go organic are:

1. (disputed) that organic crops have more nutrients in them, resulting in more flavor and better nutrition.

2. Organic farming preserves the land and preserves food security. Conventional farming is based on fertilizers made from oil (which is running out ), depletes the soil ( it takes years to make such soil useful again ), often uses gene spliced crops which are blamed for many dangers and uses insecticides which contribute to all sorts of human and animal health problems.

The Equal Exchange Green Tea ( box of tea bags ) I bought cost a tiny bit more but was still competitively priced. It seemed ordinary, nothing to write home about in a positive or negative light.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Tead Off » Oct 22nd, '11, 12:33

I'm not sure what you are trying to say in your post. Could you try to explain what your point is?
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby beforewisdom » Oct 22nd, '11, 14:08

"For those interested, I had the opportunity to try this tea and this is what I thought"
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Ill-literate » Oct 22nd, '11, 21:08

Thank you for this valuable information. So far, your threads have lived up to your screen name. :lol:
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby entropyembrace » Oct 22nd, '11, 21:21

Buy tea from vendors that deal directly with the farms, you´ll get higher quality tea and the farmer will get a better deal compared to fairtrade-organic-greenwashed branded stuff. :wink:
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby beforewisdom » Oct 22nd, '11, 22:09

Ill-literate wrote:Thank you for this valuable information. So far, your threads have lived up to your screen name. :lol:


I came here to talk about tea, so I don't want to really get into a useless conversation. I will say that I do wonder about the depth of thought of someone who thinks that an alias I chose for myself would be an insult to me.

Have a good weekend.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby beforewisdom » Oct 22nd, '11, 22:15

entropyembrace wrote:Buy tea from vendors that deal directly with the farms, you´ll get higher quality tea and the farmer will get a better deal compared to fairtrade-organic-greenwashed branded stuff. :wink:


entrioyembrace, have you done any kind of research into those issues? I haven't. To me it is what you have to say versus magazine articles I have read over the years and the various fair trade companies like Equal Exchange claim.

According to those two sources it is the vendors that deal directly with the farmers in the 3rd world that exploit the farmers so much (paying them very little and then charging much more higher prices to others).

Since this is about green tea, my non-expert opinion might be that this situation varies from country to country. I would imagine conditions for Indian farmers would be far worse than Japanese farmers.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby entropyembrace » Oct 23rd, '11, 16:07

beforewisdom wrote:
entropyembrace wrote:Buy tea from vendors that deal directly with the farms, you´ll get higher quality tea and the farmer will get a better deal compared to fairtrade-organic-greenwashed branded stuff. :wink:


entrioyembrace, have you done any kind of research into those issues? I haven't. To me it is what you have to say versus magazine articles I have read over the years and the various fair trade companies like Equal Exchange claim.

According to those two sources it is the vendors that deal directly with the farmers in the 3rd world that exploit the farmers so much (paying them very little and then charging much more higher prices to others).

Since this is about green tea, my non-expert opinion might be that this situation varies from country to country. I would imagine conditions for Indian farmers would be far worse than Japanese farmers.


If you´re talking about commodity tea, then yes fair trade is better than not. This is the kind of tea that is sold in large quantities to wholesalers and then is repackaged and branded and sold in places like the supermarket or the tea store in the local mall. You as the end consumer are far removed from the origin...the tea can pass through a series of import/export stages and wholesalers before it reaches the retailer you buy it from. In situations like this the farmers are dealing with very large companies that just want a high volume of tea at the lowest price possible...but they will pay a bit more to the farmer if they can put a fair trade stamp on the box and charge the consumer a higher price.

But the best tea is produced in such small quantities these kinds of businesses aren´t interested in it at all. This type of tea is farmed and processed on small family farms and in village co-ops. The goal is to maximize quality, not quantity. The tea vendors which deal in this kind of tea are very small companies which do not require a high volume of tea. They travel directly to the origin and develop mutually beneficial relationships with the farmers. Sometimes they are even family. This business model is sometimes called Direct Trade...and it´s far superior to Fair Trade.

And you´re right the situation in Japan is different than many other tea producing countries. It has labour laws that are superior to fair trade standards.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby sherubtse » Oct 23rd, '11, 18:26

Here is a blog post about fair trade practices regarding tea from China:

http://www.sevencups.com/2011/10/fair-t ... -in-china/

Best wishes,
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby gingkoseto » Oct 24th, '11, 13:00

Farmers' conditions vary a lot. Even within the same country (such as China), farmers in some regions are poor, while farmers in some other regions are richer than most other people I've seen. Fair trade system can surely protect farmers in certain regions. In some other cases, I have to chase after some farmers, harassing, bribing and begging them to have a mercy and sell me some of their tea :mrgreen: In countries like Japan and Korea, governments have policies and tax regulations to protect all agricultural activities, including tea production, and fair trade system is barely necessary there. Fair trade idea is good. But a stage beyond it is always better.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Smallfarmersroc... » Nov 17th, '11, 13:31

It's all a bit more complicated than that. There isn't any real "Direct Trade" in the tea world. Ask your local specialty tea shop and they will tell you that they buy from brokers.

Fair Trade tea is not what it is in coffee. Tea allows plantations to participate, so most of the "Fair Trade Certified" tea you see just comes from plantations. However, Equal Exchange buys directly from small farmer co-ops and processors, and has been a real pioneer in developing small farmer supply chains. All of their tea is also organic. The three main reasons to buy organic tea are:

1) It is better for the farm workers
2) It is better for the soil
3) Unlike many other products, you are getting a lot more of the actual pesticide residue directly in your tea at the consumer level.

Moderator Edit: Link broken per forum rules. Please read forum rules located under Announcements and User Guide. Readers can google Equal Exchange's blog: small farmers big change dot coop slash 2011/10/02 slash warning-equal-exchange-tea-supports-small-farmers
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Chip » Nov 17th, '11, 14:47

smallfarmersrock wrote:It's all a bit more complicated than that. There isn't any real "Direct Trade" in the tea world. Ask your local specialty tea shop and they will tell you that they buy from brokers.

This is not actually true. There are direct tea buyers who sell to the end consumer. Many of these develop relationships with the farmers and nurture long term sustainability.

So, you are affiliated with this organization/coop that also sells tea and other ag products?

Where is this organization located, headquartered? Who are the officers? Is it a nonprofit organization? Is there a publicly available financial statement, annual?

Sorry to ask direct questions, but there are a lot of wolves in sheeps clothing.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Smallfarmersroc... » Nov 17th, '11, 18:58

Yes, I work at Equal Exchange, and, since we are a worker-owned co-operative, I am also an owner (along with 100 or so other fellow co-operators).

Although we are a privately-held company, we voluntarily post our annual reports and audited financials here:

http://www.equalexchange.coop/annual-reports/index.php

All of the directors of the company are nominated and elected solely by the worker/owners in the co-op. Six of the nine board seats are held by the worker/owners. We are a for-profit company, but we have provisions in our by-laws that prevent the company from ever being sold. We have a 4:1 salary cap, and other oddities in the business world.

Our main headquarters is in West Bridgewater, MA (just south of Boston).

We have been in business for over 25 years and were the first US company to sell Fair Trade food products. Tea was one of the first products we sold, and the co-president (and one of the three original founders), Rink Dickinson, has been working very hard to develop high-quality tea supply chains from farmer co-ops. The blog post I listed has some of his recent comments on this work, and there are others on the site if you search for the key word "tea".
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Chip » Nov 17th, '11, 19:32

To refer to this exchange in the 3rd person "their" repeatedly (I actually deleted the one "their" when I edited your first post) ... was ... misleading. We would all appreciate it much more if you were a straight shooter representing this for profit organization as you were in your second post so we do not have to play Sherlock Holmes and try to figure out what is up.

We actually have pretty many members who are also vendors. Posting a self promoting post of a false testimonial nature that also discredited basically the way other types of vendors do business was not the best way to start out here. Not to mention violating the forum's rules on several counts. We are all pretty well educated in the realm of tea.

Since you are involved in this for profit organization, it might have been better to seek out the forum's rules and contact a Moderator prior to posting what could likely be perceived as a testimonial by a non involved member of the tea community.
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Re: Equal Exchange Organic Green Tea

Postby Smallfarmersroc... » Nov 18th, '11, 12:57

Sorry about that. Wasn't trying to be deceptive and didn't realize that I was violating the forum rules, but I should have properly identified my affiliation right off the bat.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what our company is trying to do in the tea world, as well as a lot of vague phrases like "direct trade" that companies throw around that don't necessarily mean what consumers think they mean.

My expertise is more in coffee than in tea, but I am familiar with our work on building small-farmer supply chains, and I'm happy to get direct answers from the experts if people have any questions.
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