From the Ethos Founders: 7 Sustainable Tea Brands Worth Sipping

sustainable tea brands
Image courtesy Julia Peretiatko on Unsplash

Don’t let Ted Lasso’s disdain sway you. Tea is perfectly acceptable in all its many varieties. Especially when it’s sustainable.

Tea is consumed around the world and regarded for its many healing properties. It’s so cherished, there are ceremonies that celebrate and honor its many benefits. Like the coffee industry, tea can be a boost to growers encouraged to use sustainable methods such as organic, biodynamic, and regenerative agriculture. Fair Trade certification also ensures tea producers are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.

What is tea?

Tea is a catchall these days that can include botanicals, functional mushrooms, and a host of ingredients. But tea typically refers to the camellia sinensis plant, traditionally grown across Asia, which produces four distinct types of teas based on whether or not the tea leaf has been fermented.

White tea is the freshly picked young tea leaf that is minimally processed. Green tea is similar, with minimally processed unoxidized leaves rich in antioxidants that may help prevent certain types of cancer, among other benefits. Oolong is slightly more oxidized and has a unique flavor profile. Black tea is fully oxidized and rich in tannins, giving it that slightly bitter taste.

All tea varieties have health benefits as long as they’re not overly sweetened.

Tisanes are those herby blends that aren’t technically tea at all, but fall into the category nonetheless. These include caffeine-free herbs most usually such as chamomile, ginger, rooibos, and mint.

Jill’s Picks

1. Numi Organic Tea

A triple bottom line business, Numi has been committed to people, planet, and profits since it was founded in 1999 by the brother and sister team Ahmed Rahim and Reem Hassani. But more than that, the brand is committed to really good tea. Whether a rich cup of Breakfast Blend to start the morning, or a wind down at the end of the day with Chamomile Lemon, Numi’s blends are among the finest. From the brand’s impeccable sourcing standards to the Numi Foundation that supports communities in need, you’ll want to savor every sip.

2. Traditional Medicinals

Traditional Medicinals’ roots run so deep that even if you’ve never had a cup of the brand’s many teas, you’ve had a product that was influenced by the company. Rooted in European herbalism, this natural products industry leader got its start back in 1974. From the very beginning, it has upheld a commitment to ethics and responsible sourcing, long before certified organic even existed. A certified B Corp since 2010, the company has a host of sustainability commitments across its warehouse and its supply chain. You won’t find much in the caffeinated realm here beyond a few green and black teas, but do dive into the herbalist formulated blends like the Ginger Aid or Nighty Night. And for these immune challenged times, there’s an unbeatable roster of supportive blends from Echinacea to Reishi to the medicine cabinet must, Throat Coat.

3. Rishi Tea

Certified organic since 2002, Rishi Tea made loose leaf tea essential. Founded in 1997 after Joshua Kaiser became accustomed to tea during his travels across Asia. With nothing like it in the U.S., he bet artisan teas had a future. He was right. Rishi’s Direct Trade practice means it avoids third-party sellers and works with its growers and producers to offer better wages and support. From a stellar, sustainable supply chain to blends that are unparalleled in the industry, you’ll love sipping on Rishi. Try the Artemisia Qi Tonic for elevated sipping, with aromas of spring meadows, chrysanthemums, green teas, tart citrus, and a unique herbal sweetness.

4. Enroot

Recognizing a gap in the market, actor Brad Pitt and friends set out to create an elevated experience without alcohol. Enroot is sparkling, chilled tea cold brewed and blended by James Beard chefs. The certified B Corp company sources organic ingredients, supports local farmers, supports women chefs, and has so many sustainability commitments you’ll have to read all about them here. But tasting is believing with Enroot. The sparkling teas are a revelation, whether served alongside dinner, or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Try the Peach Hibiscus Jasmine Green Tea for a transformative experience.

Jackie’s Picks

5. Pukka

I absolutely love Pukka’s wide selection of flavors. I currently have Lean Green Matcha and Turmeric Glow hanging out in my cupboard. Pukka is a certified B-Corp tea company and is really focused on building a sustainable and organic supply chain. The company works directly with farmers and growers to ensure fair wages and labor practices. 

Pukka’s boxes are made from FSC certified cardboard and the tea bags are made from 99 percent natural fibers. It is currently in the process of certifying its bags for home composting.

6. Arbor Teas

If you are looking for an exceptional loose leaf tea option, check out Arbor Teas. Not only is the tea organic and Fair Trade, but the teas are also packaged in compostable bags made from cellulose material. The labels on its packages are also made from compostable, hemp-based or sugar cane-based paper.  

Furthermore, Arbor Teas has a solar-powered packaging facility. The company also refrains from shipping by plane to lower its emissions. It offsets its carbon emissions through the Carbon Fund. Right now I am loving the Organic Plum Oolong.

7. Yogi

Yogi has a plethora of organic and USDA certified organic teas. The teas are also non-GMO certified and they never contain artificial ingredients. Yogi’s rooibos tea is also from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, which helps conserve wildlife and natural resources, along with safeguarding the rights and well-being of workers

All the teas come in a cardboard box that is printed using vegetable-based inks. Each tea bag is wrapped in compostable paper and the tea bag itself is fully compostable. I really love the Chai Rooibos.

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