I am a fan of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea. Being a compulsive tea drinker, I brew my own, rather than buy it bottled, or go to a cafe every day and use wasteful cups. The Raspberry Earl Grey is yummy iced. There are many other flavors to choose from in the vast array of Zhena’s Fair Trade teas.
Zhena Muzyka started the company on a shoestring, when she needed to earn money as a new mother of a child who was born with a severe birth defect. She began with a small tea cart outside of a friend’s store and popularity grew exponentially as people sampled the blends inspired by her Ukrainian Gypsy heritage and her experience with a Sri Lankan tea master. Zhena’s experience, having to care for her son while relying on social services as her company grew, informed her unique sensibility to worker’s and women’s rights (predominantly women and children work in the organic Fair Trade tea gardens where she gets her plants.) Her desire to provide a safe, sustainable, and holistic work environment continues to affect her company as it grows.
From soil, to recyclable tin, the teas are produced with a sense of environmental awareness. As a side note, I was dismayed that the tea came in tins when I first started drinking it, but the website has a very detailed explanation of why they use tin, from a recycling perspective. You can also buy the bags loose on the website. Read here to learn more about using tin.
Some of the workers I talked with were concerned that people in affluent countries might not believe Fair Trade is important and stop buying Fair Trade tea. I see that happening sometimes as I market my product. Another company might complain about the paperwork or the fees associated with Fair Trade and drop the commitment to the program. I have a sense that if they went to the gardens to see the Fair Trade dollars at work, they would never sway.
Can a tin of tea make a difference in the world? Today, my son is a healthy six-year old and our Fair Trade Tea Company is still small in comparison to conventional tea companies but is already a multi-million dollar enterprise. For every million dollars of tea we sell, tens of thousands of dollars return to our tea estates in order to ensure more mothers will have access to healthcare for themselves and their babies. Fair Trade is a critical program that will help deepen organics and evolve conscious capitalism. Perhaps the good Book was right in that “the meek shall inherit the earth” one Fair Trade purchase at a time.