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UK tea brands shine light on Assam

Big 6 reveal names of gardens from where they buy tea

By Our Special Correspondent in Guwahati

  • Published 12.05.19, 12:06 AM
  • Updated 12.05.19, 12:06 AM
Workers pluck leaves at a tea garden in Assam.
Workers pluck leaves at a tea garden in Assam. Telegraph file picture

Six top UK tea brands have, for the first time, disclosed the names of gardens in Assam from where they buy their tea.

This happened after a campaign was launched by UK-based Traidcraft Exchange, which works in partnership with Traidcraft, to promote justice and fairness in trade. It launched a campaign asking top UK tea buyers to reveal the names of gardens from where they buy their tea.

The campaign was launched last year and now six top UK tea brands have revealed the names in public domain.

Tom Sharman, senior campaigns and communications officer, Traidcraft Exchange, told The Telegraph that before the campaign was launched, none of the “big six” UK tea brands — PG Tips (Unilever), Twinings, Tetley, Yorkshire Tea, Typhoo, and Clipper — would tell consumers which tea gardens the tea they drink came from.

“We think that knowing where the tea they pick ends up gives tea workers more power. It means that they can go directly to the UK brand if local standards are not up to those of the UK brand. It also puts pressure on the UK brand to work with their suppliers to ensure that the brand is paying enough for a living wage. These aren’t instant fixes but we think greater transparency will lead to improvements over time,” Sharman said.

Tea grown in Assam is a key ingredient in many popular blends sold by UK companies, and is also sold as a speciality tea. All of the big six UK brands buy tea from Assam and sell it to consumers in the UK.

“We are working with local groups in Assam to publicise the existence of the supplier lists and enable tea workers to use them effectively,” he said.

He said the tea industry needs to change, both in the UK and in Assam — with tea workers receiving better wages and working in better conditions.

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