Since 1978, the World Development Tea Co-operative has been importing Tradewinds tea that is blended, packed and shipped by Sri Lankans. Best known is the Superior Blend tea in the distinctive reed baskets that are woven by 2,500 village women. The women are shareholders in the export company and receive housing loans and help with schooling for their children.
In contrast, transnational corporations buy bulk tea cheaply at auction and ship it to their overseas plants for blending, packing and distribution. If Sri Lanka could export all its tea in packaged form, it would more than double its income from tea. This would dwarf all the foreign aid money it receives. That's why NI supports the Tea Co-op in this campaign for self-reliance through fair trade.
And the Superior Blend...
Superior Blend is a high quality tea with a finer flavour than is usually found in supermarket tea.
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Tea grows best in tropical climates from sea level to high altitudes. Quality tea is always plucked by hand, because only the young upper two leaves with the bud is harvested and the remaining growth is cut back. The tea plucker carries up to 15kg immediately to the factory. This harvested fresh tea is withered overnight and dried 60%. Then it is either processed by the CTC method (cut - tear - curl) or by one of many 'orthodox' methods (for higher quality teas), oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity, fired (dried) and sorted, blended and packed.
Tradewinds offers an alternative to multinational commodity trading: it supports sustainable agriculture and sustainable development.
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A little about Asha Handicrafts: Asha Handicrafts provides the security of markets to small scale artisan workshops around India, like ANSA, the soapnut harvesters in Tamil Nadu.
New Internationalist Australia is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, which means we have to stock a percentage of Fair Trade products, and also adhere to Fair Trade practices ourselves. Great for supporting producers rights, and also for our staff.
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