SUSTAINABLE LIVING

10 Fair Trade & Zero Waste Tea Brands

Not all tea is created equal and many high-street brews contain plastic hidden in their tea bags – this means they can’t be composted and may leech microplastics. But which tea brands can you trust? Verte Mode team of testers have been sampling the best in ethical tea, with no leaf left unturned. While there are significant challenges facing the industry, there are sustainable and ethical tea brands paving a better way for the planet and the growers behind our tea. Time to sit back and put the kettle on.

What is sustainable tea?

“Sustainable” is a broad word, but for this guide, it means:

  • The tea was grown organically, regeneratively, and/or biodynamically without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or insecticides. Most brands included here are certified organic and there are a few using regenerative farming practices.

What is zero waste tea?

  • Generally, zero waste tea is loose-leaf tea. Bonus points if you can get the loose-leaf tea from a bulk store!
  • Or, the tea comes in plastic-free and compostable zero waste tea bags.

What is fair trade tea?

For this guide, it means that the tea was sourced ethically either through transparent direct trade from farm to brand or through a fair trade-certified partner. Many brands included in this guide source from Fair Trade-Certified farms, which is included in their descriptions.

All brands in this guide follow one or both of these standards — you’ll see which one (or both) of the standards each brand follows in their descriptions.

Now let’s dive in so you can get to sipping on some sustainable tea!

Note: This guide includes partners and affiliates. As always, all brands included meet high standards for responsibility and all opinions are my own.

1. Sacred Blossom Farm

Sustainable zero waste tea from Sacred Blossom Farms

Sacred Blossom Farm is a localish-to-me (about 300 miles away) small-scale farm in Wisconsin producing herbal teas free of pesticides, herbicides or flavor additives using low-input, sustainable, innovative farming practices. ⁠

Working to mimic natural systems practices, Sacred Blossom Farm relies on the interconnectedness of nature to maintain the fertility of their fields and to support the health of their plants instead of synthetic fertilizers.⁠

Using practices like minimal tillage, innovative polyculture systems, inter-seeding strategies, intensive cover-cropping, and hand⁠-scale harvesting, Sacred Blossom Farm is really challenging the status quo when it comes to quality botanicals.

In addition to all of this, beginning this year, Sacred Blossom Farm is tracking ALL of the inputs used on the farm. This includes not only the tangible inputs used on the farm but also the fuel for the tractor and even all the miles the owner drives for the business.

Sacred Blossom Farm will also be launching completely plastic-free and biodegradable packaging this summer.⁠

Conscious Qualities: Organic, Biodynamic Farming Practices

Explore Sacred Blossom Farm’s Sustainable Teas

2. Numi

Numi sources fair trade-certified and USDA-certified organic teas. The brand is also B-Corp certified (which is a holistic certification for companies ensuring social and environmental responsibility) and they’ve partnered with farming communities to ensure access to clean drinking water through an initiative called Together for H(2)OPE.

On top of all of this, Numi also uses packaging made up of 85% post-consumer waste and biodegradable paper tea bags and they invest in carbon offsetting through Carbon Fund.

Conscious Qualities: Certified Organic, Certified Fair Trade, B-Corporation, Gives Back, Offsets Carbon Emissions

Explore Numi’s Organic, Fair Trade Tea

3. Art of Tea

The Art of Tea imports high-quality organic teas, including many loose-leaf options. Their eco-friendly loose-leaf tea options include many different varieties — like green, black, herbal, yerba mate, and caffeine-free — as well as multiple flavor note options — such as citrus, floral, crisp, refreshing, and fruity. The ingredients used in the brand’s teas are USDA-certified organic

Conscious Qualities: Certified Organic

Explore Art of Tea’s Organic Teas

4. Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned company with ethically-sourced food and beverage products. A worker co-op structure means that Equal Exchange’s employees and farmer partners all have a voice and vote in the operations of the for-profit organization.

Believing in social responsibility throughout their supply chain, Equal Exchange also follows fair trade standards, like increasing and stabilizing wages and promoting safe farming practices and working conditions. Equal Exchange’s teas are also USDA Organic-Certified.

Conscious Qualities: USDA Organic-Certified, Fair Trade Practices, Worker Co-Op Structure

Explore Equal Exchange’s Organic Fair Trade Teas

5. Guayakí

Guayakí goes a step beyond organic, using regenerative practices to grow their tea. The brand is actually in the Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot Program!

And, by using sustainable, ethical sourcing practices, Guayakí is helping preserve the South American Atlantic Rainforest and promoting the self-sufficiency of Indigenous communities.

Conscious Qualities: USDA Organic-Certified, Regenerative Practices

Explore Guayaki’s Regenerative Organic Teas | Find Guayaki at Whole Foods

6. Yogi

Yogi sources quality botanicals and spices for their exceptional teas. The teas all include organic ingredients and many teas are USDA Certified-Organic. There are also specific teas from Yogi that are Rainforest Alliance Certified. Yogi also donates to multiple nonprofit organizations.

Finally, let’s talk packaging: Yogi’s cartons are made from 100% recycled paper and their tea bags are compostable (minus the staples on the tags).

Conscious Qualities: Certified B-Corp, USDA-Organic Ingredients and Teas, Some Rainforest Alliance Certified Teas, Gives Back

Explore Yogi’s Organic Teas

7. Pukka

Pukka is a B-corp with a lovely range of organic, fair trade teas suited for any situation or time of day, including “Tumeric Active”, “Clean Matcha Green”, and “After Dinner”. Each package of organic tea comes in plastic-free tea bags and a recyclable envelope.

Pukka is also a member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of revenue to environmental causes.

Conscious Qualities: B-Corp, Soil Association Organic-Certified, Member of 1% for the Planet, Fair for Life-certified

Explore Pukka’s Organic Teas

8. Arbor Teas

Arbor Teas offers an exceptional selection of organic loose leaf teas, including black, green, white, oolong, Pu-erh, rooibos, and herbal teas. Many of Arbo Teas tea options are Fair Trade-Certified as well (about two thirds).

In addition to sustainable sourcing, Arbor Teas offsets their carbon emissions from transportation through Carbon Fund, powers their packaging facility using solar energy, and has backyard compostable packaging.

Conscious Qualities: USDA Certified-Organic, Many Fair Trade-Certified Teas, Compostable Packaging, Offsets Carbon Emissions

Explore Arbor Teas

9. Organic India

Organic India is another tea brand going beyond organic and sustainable by using regenerative, biodynamic farming practices. Committed to sustainability throughout their supply chain, Organic India’s facility is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certified.

Having partnered with both Ayurvedic and Western physicians, Organic India has tea formulas specifically created with both traditional wisdom and modern science in mind.

Conscious Qualities: B-Corp, USDA Organic-Certified, Regenerative Practices

Explore Organic India

10. Choice Organic Teas

Choice Organic Teas were truly industry pioneers, having been the first exclusively organic tea company in the U.S.! The brand also purchases renewable energy credits for 100% of the electricity used by their facility and packages their teas sustainably, using 100% recycled paperboard and unbleached tea bags made with natural fiber.

Conscious Qualities: USDA Organic-Certified, Many Teas are Fair Trade-Certified, Eco-Friendly Packaging

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