Tea is too cheap
Most people might not realize just how much hard work and effort goes in to creating a single cup of tea. Here's why tea should be more expensive on the world market:
1. Environmental Impact
First and foremost, tea, like any other product in the world of course has a big impact on it’s surrounding environment. A vast majority of tea in the world are produced on huge plantations, where the domesticated tea plant has been given room to grow in a monocrop culture, free from any other plants that might disturb it’s growth. Historically a lot of land has been cleared to make room for tea plantations, and it’s still ongoing to this day, with sublime forests and natural habitats for wildlife being destroyed for our daily cup of tea. To keep prices at an all-time low, tea production has to be efficient, but if we want a more sustainable, eco-friendly alternative we have to be ready to pay a higher price.
2. Working Conditions
Most of the tea in the world comes from huge so-called tea estates, for the sake of efficiency and productivity. These estates often oversee hundreds of workers, who have traveled from their villages in search of a job that can pay for both their living and their families at home. However, more often than not, workers are forced to realize that their wages are not what they thought they would be, and with little money on their pockets they have no other choice than to stay at the estates and pick tea.
3. Production and labour
Tea. Is. Hard. Work. Do we need to elaborate? Of course, we would be happy to! Imagine all of the stages a tea leaf has to go through to make it from the place it was grown to then end up in your cup of tea. First workers have to pick the leaves, and even if their picking them at an estate where the tea plants are planted in perfect rows with no other vegetation to disturb, it is still an extremely tough job requiring a ton of endurance. Tea plants are often grown in steep hills, and picked under the strong sun. To pick with both precision, efficiency, and endurance is just as hard as it sounds, if not harder. Pickers are superheroes. After the leaves have been picked they have to be processed, and while the process differs depending on what tea you want to make, it is still a work intensive process! After processing you often need more people to perform the what’s called sorting, sorting out certain types of leaves in the tea and removing items that might have ended up where they shouldn’t have. After sorting you have packing, taken care of by more people, often working for less than acceptable wages. These low wages are a result of an increasingly competitive tea industry where prices are being lowered, resulting in worse conditions for workers.
After your tea finally has been produced and packed up, it’s time to ship it across the world! Is this free? Of course not. Is this environmentally sustainable in the long run? Probably not. But large containers of tea get shipped across the world every day, ending up in large port towns where they’re repacked and sent to the next place on it’s world tour. Eventually, after traveling by car, truck, boat, truck, truck, truck, the tea that first was picked by an underpaid worker has made it to the supermarket, where customers will debate and compare prices, before taking their preffered choice home with them.
5. Sustainable business
There are often many middle men involved in the tea business, all who need to get paid enough to sustain their living and businesses. You have pickers, farmers, producers, vendors, buyers, distributors, flavouring companies, and eventually tea shops and businesses who sell the tea and they all want their piece of the cake. When prices of tea are being pushed down, it is often the people at the bottom who suffer the most. This is not sustainable in the long run. If you don’t have people who can make a good living picking and producing the tea, you’ll eventually run into some big production problems. Our attitude here at Monsoon Tea is never to demand that our farmers lower their prices if we for some reason would receive a lower price than expected on an order. Then we take that financial hit on our cut, but this is not something that should ever affect the people at the bottom of the chain. Running a sustainable business means that it has to be sustainable for everyone involved. For the forest, for the insects, for the pickers, workers, producers, sustainable for us in the company and in the end we need to provide a good enough product that you, the customer is willing to pay a premium for. Because we need to make tea more expensive. For all of us.