Our Sustainability Priorities
WHERE WE ARE NOW – AND WHERE WE’RE HEADING
We want our customers to enjoy the most fulfilling tea drinking experience and we want our tea producers and their environments to thrive. We believe we can achieve both by selecting distinctive single garden teas and building long-lasting, personal relationships with the tea masters who produce them.
SINGLE GARDEN, SINGLE ORIGIN: For the ultimate taste and peace of mind from complete transparency.
Single garden teas offer distinctive character capturing the unique combination of the type of tea bush, the terroir in which it's grown, and the craftsmanship of the tea master. Every origin and garden has a different story to tell. Tea regions needs to be known and loved by consumers, and well looked after by producers to thrive.
To this end, we have made traceability a priority. Consumers can see the origin and garden name on every pack of JING tea. As part of our selection process, we audit all of our gardens in accordance with standards set out by the Ethical Tea Partnership, which exists to improve tea sustainability, the lives and livelihoods of tea workers and smallholder farmers, and the environment.
PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Access to the best teas while driving value directly to producers & their communities.
For over 15 years we have built relationships with tea producers, and every year we make new ones. It's this invaluable network of producers that allows us access to the best teas of each season. Our sourcing team spend many months of each year in tea gardens with producers enabling us to be fully transparent - we know the who, where and how of the cultivation and production of all our teas.
We want to see as much value as possible go directly to these producers and their communities. Driving enjoyment and demand for high quality tea amongst consumers and seeing that translate into profit and opportunity for producers is why we are here.
PRIORITISE ORGANIC: Supporting biodiversity of the local environment.
Minimise exposure of land, wildlife, producers and consumers to agrochemicals.
It takes a tea garden an average of three to five years to be certified as fully organic, and producers will see a significant drop in yield in the early years. However, we have first-hand experience of the fantastic improvements in tea quality – and therefore the price it can fetch – once the change has been made. Read this story from The Chen family – the first organic producers in Ali Shan, Taiwan.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll always see an ‘organic’ stamp on our teas. Around the world, there are conflicting definitions of what constitutes an organic product, and many smallholder producers who use organic farming methods don’t invest in global certification. Where there is high local demand for their tea, the expense of investing in organic certification primarily for export is not a priority.
If we buy only from the larger producers that invest in international organic labels, we restrict the opportunities, not only for amazing tea discoveries but also for smallholder farmers to thrive. Where our personal relationships with producers gives us the assurance that synthetic pesticides and herbicides have not been used, in addition to our lab batch testing of every tea for residues, we shall continue to buy from them. These teas carry our Made Without Pesticides badge.
We will make it clear in our product descriptions on our website and pack labels which teas are certified Organic, carrying the Soil Association badge, and which have been made without the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, carrying our Made Without Pesticides badge.
FAIR PRICING & LIVING WAGES: For people to thrive throughout our value chain.Unchecked commoditisation drives down the value of tea producing regions – it minimises the prices and margins, as well as the quality and reputation of the teas. If consumers pay as little as 3p per tea bag from supermarket shelves, and are drinking a characterless blend from many regions, imagine how little value reaches the gardens that produced the tea.The teas we source embody their single gardens and origins and the incredible craft of their producers. We pay the high prices they command. As consumers enjoy and appreciate the benefits of quality single origin tea, the industry will change for the better: a richer experience for tea drinkers means greater returns and a better future for tea producers and their communities.We are a Living Wage employer and we are working towards a living wage policy for all the gardens we buy from. This is a huge benchmarking task as the information does not exist for many origins yet, but we are collaborating and will drive the agenda however we can.
CHAMPION LOOSE LEAF TEA: Better taste and lower environmental impact than tea bags.We encourage all our customers to adopt loose tea wherever possible, and design simple built-to-last teaware to enable this.Thanks to the extra space allowing convection currents to swirl the water around the loose tea leaves, aiding infusion, loose tea tastes better. It also costs less per cup than tea bags and with significantly less packaging, loose tea is better for the environment.
PACKAGING PROMISE: Remove oil-based plastic from our outer packaging while retaining the all-important freshness of our teas.
If we are to deliver high quality tea at its best to consumers, the freshness of our tea leaves is of paramount importance.
Over the last few years, we have been researching options, hoping to find a packaging solution that is ideally home compostable, or recyclable as a minimum. So far, none of the options we have tested have had sufficient water and oxygen barriers to retain the freshness of the leaves to an acceptable level. We believe that right now the ideal solution does not exist, but the sustainable packaging industry is moving so quickly that we are hopeful of a solution imminently and we commit to making the switch as soon as we find it.
Our tea bags, however, have always been biodegradable and have never contained oil-based plastic. When we launched them back in 2007, we wanted to invest in a biodegradable option for the sake of the environment, so we used a plant-based material called PLA which has enabled us to offer the same large leaf tea that we sell loose in a tea bag format. These can be disposed of in council food waste bins.