Herbal & Rooibos Teas

Shopping guide to Herbal, fruit & Rooibos Teas, from Ethical Consumer

Shopping guide to Herbal, fruit & Rooibos Teas, from Ethical Consumer


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

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This guide includes:

  • Ethical and environmental ratings for 26 brands of Herbal, Fuit and Roobios tea
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • Buying better tea
  • Price comparisons

 

This guide is part of a special report on Tea which includes features on:

  • Ethical Labeling
  • Environmental impacts - damaging biodiversity and overuse of pesticidies
  • Fairtrade Foundation v Rainforest Alliance
  • Profile of a fairtrade estate
  • Wages for tea pickers

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Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings

 

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Buying better tea 

 

Alex Zorach, Founder and Editor of blog site RateTea.com, explains that, in addition to buying Fairtrade tea, there are other conscious decisions that tea drinkers can do to influence where their money flows in the tea industry.
 

  • Buy direct sourced tea – avoid buying from companies that do not identify anything about the origin of their teas. Farmer-owned cooperatives with a retail presence, which may or may not be Fairtrade certified, can also be a good source of tea, like the Makaibari Estate in Darjeeling, India).
  • Buy single origin tea, rather than blends – blending is a practice carried out primarily in wealthy countries. Blended tea is a generic tea from two or more geographic areas and marked only as 'tea', 'green tea' or 'Everyday tea'. 'Earl Grey' and 'English Breakfast' tea may also be blended tea.
    Single origin tea, like Assam or Darjeeling, is a tea that hails from a single geographic region, estate, garden or small country. With single origin tea, it is more likely that a greater portion of the price you pay will reach the original producer.
  • Buy loose-leaf tea rather than tea bags – the packaging of tea into tea bags, besides using energy and resources that are discarded, also tends to concentrate profit in wealthy countries. By buying loose-leaf tea, you not only reduce waste and resource usage, but you make it more likely that a greater portion of the price you are paying reaches the producers.
  • Grow your own herbs for herbal tea or buy locally-grown ones.

 

 

Price comparison

 

Brand

 

Pence per teabag

Dragonfly rooibos [F,O]

 

4

Equal Exchange rooibos [F,O]

 

5

Twinings redbush

 

5

Essential [F,O]

 

6

Hampstead Tea [F,O]

 

7

Pukka vanilla chai [F,O]

 

11

 

[F,O] = Fairtrade and organic

[F] = Fairtrade certified

[RA] = Rainforest Alliance

 

Caffeine-free tea

 

Aside from decaffeinated tea, the overwhelming majority of herbal and fruit teas are also caffeine free. South African rooibos and honeybush are also caffeine free. The most notable exception is Yerba Mate or Maté, a herbal tea which is not caffeine free.

 

 

 

This product guide is part of a special report on Tea, also see:

 

Introduction - to the global tea industry. 

Company profiles - for 14 major players. 

Environment - damaging biodiversity and overuse of pesticides

Ethical tea standards - comparing certifications such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance

Fairtrade tea estate - profile of a fairtrade estate

Rainforest Alliance tea estates - violations of labour rights?

Wages for tea pickers - often below the poverty line, even on certified estates.

Product guide and ratings for Black and Green teas.

 

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