Improving living conditions - one cup of tea at a time

Improving living conditions - one cup of tea at a time - student project

The image of a cup of tea is often associated with tranquility and an uplifting beverage accessible to all.  What may not be common knowledge is that there is a high human cost to tea production and dissemination.

Tea as a curse

Tea that we drink is produced by workers that come from vulnerable populations. These are notoriously overexploited, as tea is a very labour-intensive product to grow. The commercial plantations represent the majority of tea plantations. Wages on tea plantations are very low and the workers are almost all malnourished and lacking job security. Workers take care of tea bushes (fertilise, weed and prune) and pluck the leaves. All workers undertake physically demanding tasks, especially during plucking that often happens in extreme weather conditions. The majority are female and sexual harassment is widespread.

Access to housing, healthcare, water and education is very limited in tea plantation communities and exploitation by plantation management leads to a vicious cycle of poverty.

Tea as a solution

In order for reality to match the peaceful image associated with tea, the long process from producer to consumer through tea brokers, packaging, storing and shipping, needs to be revamped.

First, we have to rely more on ethically sourced tea, mostly by choosing certified fair trade labels. Fairtrade tea provides conditions and a structure enabling tea farmers and workers to access greater job security, equality and opportunities in their communities, including better housing and education.

Second, we believe that fair employment is important at all levels of the tea business. Employment can provide the opportunity for social integration of  disadvantaged populations in the country on the consumer, either at the packing, storing, tea blending, marketing or shipping phase. This can be achieved by relying on social enterprises providing expected services, or through the creation of such.

Who we are

We are one scientist working in healthcare and one engineer working in logistics with a passion for tea.

We are looking to network with all those who can help in the journey.

We want to improve customers' knowledge of fairtrade and social entreprises  and we want to make customers rely more on such services with a pro bono twist.

We want to achieve this by

- providing information and contact details of trustworthy services

- supporting charities involved in professional training of individuals from disadvantaged milieus, through helping to obtain EU grants and other funding,  increasing their protegees' employability in the tea business at the end of their training

- creating social enterprises that would employ individuals trained by charities to provide necessary services of packing, storing, development of new tea blends, selling, marketing, dropshipping infrastructure, quality control, etc.

- creation of a recognisable logo communicating the idea of socially respectable services (fairtrade, social enterprise, ethically sourced materials, environmentally respectful, etc).

- provide evidence-based programmes to educate individuals how to improve their mental health on a daily basis. Tea is an excuse to discuss mental health problems, and sitting by a cup of tea is a good moment to start a mindfulness training. Yes, we can adapt and provide the 8-week professional mindfulness training for any population.

- create an e-commerce and dropshipping service of tea products that meet the specific criteria we expect. Reinvest returns into further training of our team and protegees of those we collaborate with.