Help please: reasonable fair-trade tea

I am a tea drinker in a nation of coffee drinkers, and I need your help to clean up my act.

I am on the hunt for a decent supplier of loose black tea — fairly traded and preferably organic — but not stupefyingly expensive. While fair-trade coffee can be had from Equal Exchange and other vendors for about the same (or less) as premium “unfair” coffee, tea seems to belong to another economy, in part because it is sold in tiny amounts. 20 bags? (I don’t drink bagged tea anyway.) 100 grams/3.5 ounces? Who are we kidding? I plow through (at least) a 450 gram box each month.

I’m willing to pay, say, three times as much for a high-quality product than the multinational-corporation-supplied leaf I get now. That would be about $9-$12 a pound/450 grams. But I’m seeing prices at ten times my current cost, before shipping. I have my limits, and that’s why I’m appealing to you.

As you can imagine, UK shoppers have better options, but I feel more than a little silly ordering tea from the UK. Plus the pound is very high right now. Canada perhaps? But I would rather purchase something from someone closer to home.

Do you have any suggestions? (Drinking mate is not an option.)

7 Replies to “Help please: reasonable fair-trade tea”

  1. Dear Scott,

    Thanks for the tip last week regarding the music resource. I have been tracking it down at work (Dorothy Spoerl Library, Pacific NW District-UUA).

    Regarding tea, I think Murchie’s in Vancouver is pretty darn fine. They’re lovely people, too, in my experience.

    Good luck, and please do share what you learn from your readers.

    Warmest regards,

  2. Hi Scott,
    Is there a Teavana near you? I’m in the same boat and am always on the lookout for fair-trade tea. Everything I can get my hands on says Teavana is exactly that. They can be a bit pricey depending on the tea though.

  3. Dear Scott,
    I guess you haven’t heard yet that we – Equal Exchange – have expanded our Fair Trade, organic tea program. Part of the expanded program are four premium loose leaf teas from small farmer co-ops in Darjeeling, Kerala (India), & Sri Lanka.
    For more info go to:

    One may buy them individually via our webstore ( ) or, as you probably know, at wholesale prices via our Interfaith Program.

  4. No, indeed, it was Equal Exchange’s offerings that led me to this posting. Sorry.

    In short, EE’s prices are far too high to consider it seriously — far out of proportion to the price of the coffees they offer. (I ordered them for my last pastorate’s coffee hour.) Hampstead — the UK fairtrade tea I had in mind as a fallback — is still graciously expensive, but manages to outprice Equal Exchange plus I can get it at Whole Foods (it turns out) a block away.

    As for the options, I do not like Darjeeling, leaving the Ceylon as the only real choice, and there’s something to be said for a blended tea.

    I’ll pass, keep my current supplier and watch out for developments.

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