Two years ago the BBC reported on shocking working and living conditions in tea estates in Assam, India.

Helena Tubridy (above} wondered where Barry’s sources its tea.

And waited.

Via The Dublin Inquirer

Neither Barry’s Tea nor Lyons was willing to share the exact names of all the tea estates that they source from.

Lyons gets some from Kenya, some from Sri Lanka, and some from Assam, said Adam Fisher, the media relations manager at Unilever, which owns Lyons.

“We source from an array of tea estates and though it isn’t possible to give you the names of all of them Lyons is mostly sourced from East Africa, including Kericho,” he said. It is fully Rainforest Alliance-certified, though….

Barry’s Tea, which is not Rainforest Alliance-certified, didn’t provide a list either. It sources 90 percent of its tea from East Africa and 10 percent from India, said spokesperson Camille O’Flanagan. “We work with some of the most reputable tea estates in every region.”


Where Do Barry’s Tea and Lyons Get Their Tea From? (Dublin Inquirer)

The bitter story behind the UK’s national drink (BBC News)

28 thoughts on “Cold Tea

  1. Cot

    You can take it for granted that most tea and coffee is produced by people who make subsistence earnings. Isn’t capitalism wonderful?

    1. Neilo

      It is in the very narrow sense that it’s providing people with a living, albeit not much of one by our exalted standards.

      1. Cot

        It’s providing people with living conditions that are inhuman. Tea production relies on child labor and cheap female labour to a horrendous degree.

        1. Neilo

          Alternatives have been tried with little success. I share your disdain for the working conditions but nothing that’s relatively cheap – tea/coffee/phones – is free.

        2. Rob_G

          *he types on his smartphone (made in china), while wearing his mass-produced clothes (made in Bangladesh)*

          1. Neilo

            Rob, I can be lightly sniffy up to a point but no one – least of all me – enjoys the prospect of paying a tenner for 40 tea bags.

          2. Neilo

            Ah, I get that, Rob – I’ve always thought you a fellow resident of the Republic Of Sensible. :)

          3. Nigel

            I’m curious. Do you think it’s worse to be arguably hypocritical by being aware of this and talking about it, or to be willfully ignorant of it, or to be cool with it?

          4. Tony

            Im sure you’re going to tell us and satisfy your own curiosity. Never trust someone who begins their sentence with “Im curious…”.

          5. Rob_G

            @ Nigel –

            While I am of course well aware of capitalism’s many and multitudinous imperfections, Cots response (“Isn’t capitalism wonderful?”) somehow managed to be trite, pithy, and glib – as well as dumb.

            The lot of subsistence farmers in poorer countries is not a great one – but it has always been this way, long before the conception of market capitalism. In fact, the only difference is the before the advent of capitalism, almost everyone was a subsistence farmer, and every country was poor.

    2. dylad

      Not sure about Lyon’s, however Barry’s is from Cork, so best avoided. There are plenty of decent Fairtrade brews around and they taste a lot better too.

  2. Fully Keen

    I can’t care. I have the abortion thing to like on facebook. And something about Wikileaks hacking an elderly lady. I haven’t enough cares left. Rain forest what? Fair trade who? I like the taste of hot water with leaf juice. Leave me alone. I can’t afford to pay more for my leaves.

    Types, shoos and leafs.

  3. Turgenev

    You generally wouldn’t have to pay a lot more for the goods to provide a decent living to people, though. The pickers’ wage bill is a tiny part of the cost of production. Upping it to a liveable wage and hiring adults under secure conditions wouldn’t raise the cost much at all.

  4. Janet, I ate my avatar

    my upbringing goes with Barry’s my heart with fair trade and no other bag will do
    so I drink now coffee..

  5. Kieran NYC

    Hey, if the populists wreck enough trade agreements, tariffs will put all these jobs out of business anyway, amirite?

    They might die of poverty, but at least they won’t be exploited.

  6. Truth in the News

    Surely this is a job for Bord Bia, they should be able to tell us where the leaves
    are picked and harvested, they have been running around the farms of ireland
    with the last 20 years with their Quality Food Assurance Scheme, how about a
    quality “Tay” one.

  7. Spaghetti Hoop

    30% of Kenya’s kids work, and most of them on tea, coffee, maize and sisal estates. Their parents send them to work and their employers are more than happy to exploit. So, how does one break the chain? The likes of Barry’s and Lyons probably have brokers who buy the produce at auction and remove the idea of child labour simply by not being growers.. Thankfully we have fairtrade products so the educated, concerned consumer can choose…but you will not wean Ireland off its tay for the sake of poor young uns having their childhood robbed.

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