Assam Tea Field Workers

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Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby RichAftTaste » Apr 24th, '13, 15:10

Greetings, I have been doing some research on Assam tea today. The research landed me in a series of news videos from the region the tea is cultivated.

I found disturbing news about how the field workers have been dieing of malnutrition. Following the burning of one of the fields management and wife to the ground. Which brought me to a video of the burnt management or possibly owner of this field was consumed, after the burning.

Regardless what may be fact or fiction it doesn't sound so good over there. So many companies who sell breakfast teas and from what I read those breakfast teas happen to be Assam tea.

I am somewhat turned off by Assam tea because of this. This makes me wonder about some of the other tea I have drank and the people who worked in those fields to bring me that tea.

Here is one video of many, this is a youtube video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MweIqDQDnFw
The conversation of the difference between starving and malnutrition in this video is a sad state.

I personally wish I knew what tea gardens that are involved in these stories and whom distributes their tea.

Any thoughts on this?

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Re: Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby Evan Draper » Apr 24th, '13, 16:34

You may be interested in this ethnography:
http://www.amazon.com/Time-Tea-Colonial ... 0822326744
If you aren't steeped in the language of the high academic humanities, and maybe even then, it will seem kind of loopy, but there's some solid info. Political issues (Assamese separatism) may be quite different from 2001 when the book was written.

I don't know if boycotting Assam tea will help Assamese tea workers. The video you mentioned says demand is still good, but I would imagine international competition (development of African, Argentinian tea industry and a resurgent Chinese tea industry) is decreasing margins in the Indian tea industry. You will hear people say that tea workers were well-treated when the plantations were British-administered, and once the Brits started "de-colonializing," those social protections weren't replaced. I don't know how much of that "white man's burden" stuff I believe, but any large economic shift is hard on people. In any case, it's good to try different kinds of tea. Best of luck on your tea journey.

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Re: Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby RichAftTaste » Apr 24th, '13, 17:40

Evan Draper wrote:You may be interested in this ethnography:
http://www.amazon.com/Time-Tea-Colonial-Politics-Plantation/dp/0822326744
If you aren't steeped in the language of the high academic humanities, and maybe even then, it will seem kind of loopy, but there's some solid info. Political issues (Assamese separatism) may be quite different from 2001 when the book was written.

I don't know if boycotting Assam tea will help Assamese tea workers. The video you mentioned says demand is still good, but I would imagine international competition (development of African, Argentinian tea industry and a resurgent Chinese tea industry) is decreasing margins in the Indian tea industry. You will hear people say that tea workers were well-treated when the plantations were British-administered, and once the Brits started "de-colonializing," those social protections weren't replaced. I don't know how much of that "white man's burden" stuff I believe, but any large economic shift is hard on people. In any case, it's good to try different kinds of tea. Best of luck on your tea journey.


I am not well read on the subject of the Assamese politics. Though I would like to learn more about this subject and its effect on their tea industry. I will be sure to look into the suggested reading material.

I understand the double edge sword of product boycott. The workers may be worse off without the job. Even though the job has driven them to burn the boss and his wife and death of family and friends. Losing the job may quicken the problems that caused the turmoil in the first place.

There is much to consider for me in regards to the product.

Thank you for your input on the subject.

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Re: Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby futurebird » Apr 24th, '13, 18:59

I think making people aware of working conditions is more important than a boycott. I think many tea-drinkers would pay a premium to know that their tea isn't supporting abusive workplaces.

Beyond that it might mean looking in to larger issues ... thanks for the link Evan I'm going to take a look too.

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Re: Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby beforewisdom » Apr 26th, '13, 10:24

"Equal Exchange" brand "fair trade" black tea
http://shop.equalexchange.coop/tea/black.html

Google search on "fair trade assam tea"

Hope this helps.

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Re: Assam Tea Field Workers

Postby RichAftTaste » Apr 26th, '13, 10:57

beforewisdom wrote:"Equal Exchange" brand "fair trade" black tea
http://shop.equalexchange.coop/tea/black.html

Google search on "fair trade assam tea"

Hope this helps.


Excellent! Thank You

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