Monthly Archives: March 2010

Steven Smith – Teamaker

Steven Smith is an iconic figure in the American tea industry. In 1972 he co-founded Stash Tea Company, nurturing it into becoming one of America’s most recognized tea brands. After selling the company over 20 years later, he moved on to form Tazo Tea. Within a few years, Tazo was acquired by Starbucks and became the premium brand of teas available in Starbucks stores worldwide. Smith continued to develop the Tazo Tea brand and line of teas until 2006.

Now, after a few years living in Avignon, France, Mr. Smith is back in America blending teas under his own name. Bringing with him over 35 years of expert tea-blending experience. The Steven Smith Teamaker brand represents the culmination of decades of blending and creating teas for American tea drinkers

Smith’s teas are exceptional, every ingredient in the tea can be traced back to the source by the consumer. Each box is printed with a unique code, which can be entered at Smith’s website to learn the origin of each of his special and high-quality ingredients.

Smith’s skill at creating excellent teas and premium brands is unmatched in the American tea industry.

James Norwood Pratt on tea

In this video, released on CHOW.com in 2009, tea author James Norwood Pratt muses about tea. He comes across as a kind old gentleman in a brown leather chair, and has some cleverly quotable moments:

On learning about tea:
“The same way I would tell someone to start learning about lovemaking…”

On tea bags:
“Of course I use tea bags…it is the first line of self-defense…”

Is Fair Trade tea really fair?

What if you discovered that the Fair Trade tea in your cupboard really wasn’t fair? How would you feel? If you found out that the extra money you paid for your tea because of the Fair Trade label never really made it to the workers, would you still feel that your conscience was satisfied? Worldwide, millions of consumers, purchase Fair Trade product with a belief that the Fair Trade system works– that the extra money paid goes to fight poverty, end hunger and ensure that workers in Third World countries are getting a fair wage for their labors. Fair Trade has become a 21st-century buzzword filled with progressive promises of increased labor standards and higher levels of employee welfare. Consumers contribute to Fair Trade as a means of satisfying a desire to, “do the right thing”; “do something good.” Some even consider that buying Fair Trade products is a charitable act of duty. What if that was all wrong?

In 2008, a pair of Danish documentary filmmakers produced The Bitter Taste of Tea. It was aired on Danish television and highlighted issues and concerns that are currently ongoing in the Fair Trade tea industry. The filmmakers travelled to tea producing countries, visited tea plantations, both traditional and Fair Trade. There they uncovered some truths and realities of Fair Trade. They shake the tree and produce an image of Fair Trade that is unsettling, disturbing and even somewhat shocking.

The film made headlines throughout 2009 and is now finally available to the English-speaking world. A screening was held in January 2010 at the University of California, Los Angeles. The screening was followed by a forum discussion moderated by acclaimed tea author, Beatrice Hohenegger. We’ve reviewed the film, listened to the discussion and were surprised to learn that Fair Trade is not what we thought it was.

Click through to see images from the film to read more about issues with Fair Trade

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