Herbal tea is a favorite beverage around here. A cup of tea can provide warmth, comfort, nourishment, and community. Unfortunately, not all teas are as good for us as we’re led (no pun intended) to believe.
Below, we’re covering the importance of buying organic tea, how it differs from conventional tea, and ethical brands that are doing good for the people, the planet, and our health.
What is Organic Tea & How is it Different from Conventional Tea?
Organic tea is grown on small-scale farms and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
Many organic tea brands are also Fair Trade certified. This simply means that the seller made an agreement to pay their workers/farmers fair wages and provide healthy working conditions.
Conventional teas are highly sprayed, mass-produced crops that are grown on large-scale plantations. Since these plantations are typically located at higher elevations, it creates a huge problem.
The chemicals run down the mountains and hills, leeching into rivers (and other bodies of water), forests, and farms.
Not only does this affect the ecosystem, but it’s also incredibly harmful to farmers and workers.
Why Buying Organic Tea is So Important
Organic tea helps to sustain the health of the soil. This means that the more chemicals added, the more damaging it is to the long-term health of the soil. This then has a ripple effect on both the ecosystem and the people.
Once the soil has been affected by these chemicals, it’s deemed unsafe to use for several years, if at all.
Synthetic pesticides are extremely toxic and have been linked to serious health risks such as birth defects, hormonal imbalances, skin and eye irritations, as well as other conditions.
What to Look For When Buying Tea
When buying tea, you want to make sure that you know what every ingredient is on the ingredient list. Many teas have additives such as artificial colors, flavors, and fillers.
Don’t rely on marketing words such as ‘all-natural’ or ‘healthy’ on the front of the package. These words are rarely accurate as to what is really inside a product.
Tips for Buying Organic Tea
- If you have the option, buy loose-leaf tea. It’s typically less wasteful, and you’ll get more bang for your buck. Make sure to get a tea strainer if opting for loose-leaf.
- Buy a variety pack to try out multiple flavors without having to commit to a whole box (when still deciding what you like).
- Even though it seems like it would make sense to squeeze your tea bag to get more out of it, avoid doing this. This causes the tannins inside the tea to make your drink taste bitter.
The 5 Best Organic Tea Brands
Credibility: Certified B-Corporation, Certified Green Business, USDA Certified Organic, Compostable Non-GMO Teabags, Non-GMO Project Verified
Offerings: 60+ tea flavors, teabags, lozenges
Price: Starts at $5.79 per box
Traditional Medicinals is a company that’s been making tea since 1971. They greatly care about the people and the planet. On top of their impressive list of sustainable efforts, they individually test each herb from field to cup to ensure quality, safety, and purity.
This brand is most well-known for its teas but has recently extended into other herbal products such as throat lozenges.
Credibility: USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, Eco-friendly
Offerings: 16+ tea flavors, teabags
Price: Starts at $4.50 per box
Equal Exchange has been in the tea and coffee industry since 1991.
Their business model is a democratic for-profit cooperative. It’s operated with fair-trade practices and is equally owned by every single employee.
By purchasing equal exchange products, you’re supporting a company that deeply cares about environmentally sound and economically just practices.
Credibility: USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade Certified, B-Corp
Offerings: nearly 30 tea flavors, tea bags, loose-leaf tea, tea concentrates,
Price: Starts at $7.99 per box
Numi Tea has been around since 1999. Founded by a brother and sister duo who wanted to share the healing power of tea with the world.
All Numi teas are certified organic and made 100% from herbs, real fruits, flowers, and spices.
This brand truly cares about its environmental impact and human rights, which is why they started the Numi Foundation.
Their purchase with purpose model helps to fight global warming, reduce plastic waste, and provides fair wages for tea farmers around the world.
Credibility: Certified B-Corp, USDA Certified Organic, Eco-friendly, Non-GMO Project Verified, Rainforest Alliance Certified
Offerings: 40+ tea flavors, teabags
Price: Starts at $5.50 per box
Yogi teas source over 100 high-quality exotic spices and botanicals found around the world.
They perform rigorous testing to meet quality standards and are committed to creating products that minimize their environmental footprint.
They’re very selective with their supplies and follow Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Food Safety Audits.
As a result, this ensures that there are no GMO ingredients, artificial ingredients, and the ingredients haven’t been contaminated by ionizing radiation (irradiation) or sewer sludge.
Let’s talk about the packaging.
Yogi tea cartons are made from 100% recycled paper.
Their tea bags are compostable (minus the staples to seal the bag). Plus, the ink used on their packages is vegetable-based making it environmentally-friendly.
Credibility: Non-GMO Verified, Kosher, Certified B-Corp, USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade
Offerings: 250+ tea flavors, loose-leaf tea & teabags
Price: Starts at $4.35 per box
Stash started in the early 1970s and has been steadily growing and improving ever since. Although not all their teas are certified organic, they are all non-GMO project verified and are made without any artificial ingredients.
In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, their tea bags, strings, and tags are compostable and the boxes can be recycled. The foiled wrappers can’t be recycled, but they’re looking into more environmentally responsible options.
Credibility: Fair for Life Certified, 1% of the Planet, Carbon Neutral, Certified Organic, Eco-friendly, Sustainable, Organic Soil Association, Certified B-Corp
Offerings: 30 tea flavors, herbal supplements, teabags
Price: Starts at $5.50 per box
The name Pukka in Hindi translates to real, authentic, or genuine. The founders wanted their company to embody these qualities when they started in the early 2000s.
Pukka tea’s vision was to be sustainable from the very beginning. It started with the health of the planet, people, and plants in mind.
The tea boxes are made using FSC certified paper. This means their supplies come from responsibly managed forests often using reclaimed sources.
Both the tea boxes and envelopes are 100% recyclable. To do this, place it in your paper recycling bin.
Other Organic Tea Brands to Try
This is a quick list of organic tea brands with ethical business practices I have yet to try.
Art of Tea: Organic, Fair Trade | Loose-leaf teas, teabags
Tielka: Australian Certified Organic, Fair Trade | Loose-leaf teas, plastic-free teabags
The Tea Spot: Certified B-Corp, Organic, 10% for Wellness (Supporting Cancer Survivors) | Loose-leaf teas, teabags
Mountain Rose Herbs: USDA Certified Organic, Zero Waste Facility Certification, Responsible Packaging | Loose-leaf teas, essential oils, aromatherapy, herbs & spices, home goods, & more.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a truly incredible company. Although I haven’t tried their loose-leaf teas, I’ve bought other products and highly recommend them for both their quality and their sustainability practices.