In fact, you might think I was rather rude!
However, Darjeeling Tea Express have seen my comments in the spirit they were intended, and responded admirably.
I asked them, very publicly, what they were doing, and they've posted a reply. Here's the first bit:
"I share your concerns over livelihood/conditions of tea workers and the benefit they receive in this industry... From our experience of being in trade, most tea producers do not provide much except the minimum stipulated by law and it includes food subsidy, free housing and a daily wage (negotiated in every 2-3 years). However, due to profit maximisation mentality, most tea producers do not share proportionate gains/profits with their tea workers. In rare cases, it is a sad to hear the story of their personal plight. Even certifications like Fair Trade do not mean much on the ground."So, we're on the same page. These guys do think it's important. To state their case, again quoting them:
"Going forward, we intend to procure increasingly large part of our teas from such co-operatives and encourage more of the same. Our business model eliminates many players in the value chain by bringing teas direct from the gardens to consumers. Hence, we definitely aim to share our proceedings with institutions that support tea plantation labourers such as Hayden Hall as well. We cannot claim anything yet as we have just commenced operations, but allow us some time to scale up and implement this."My opinion is that Darjeeling Tea Express need more than just time to do this, they need market clout. So, let's all help!
They have a nicely set-up site, good prices and plenty of information. That's enough of a reason to shop with them.
But if we can help them to help the tea worker in the field, undertaking back-breaking work for little reward, then I encourage every one of my readers to buy at least one batch of nicely-packed, fresh, exotic, invigorating, worker-friendly Darjeeling from them.
It's time for us all to put our money where our mouth is.