Doing Good With A Cuppa

I adore my philanthropy work.   I work at a job where I feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives, I constantly assist at my church (maybe to a fault!), and am constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to better the world around me, especially for the homeless population and those that suffer from hunger.

I also adore my tea.   A nice cuppa after a crazy day at work is relaxing and gets my mind away from any evil thoughts that might infiltrate, ranging from depressing, lonely thoughts to, “Did I remember to do that thing I wanted to do today?” thought.   While I drink coffee, that revs me up and keeps me moving, while tea rocks me gently into a certain bliss.

Mix the two together, and I am in love.   On Saturday, April 25th, for example, I am going to be heading up to Ringwood Library, 30 Cannici Drive, Ringwood, New Jersey 07456 for a high tea fundraiser.   There, I will be explaining all about high teas and offering samples.   Tickets are $20 for Friends of the Library members and $25 for non-members.   For more information, you can visit the website or contact Elise Bedder at (973) 962-6256, ext. 15, or email her at   All proceeds benefit the library.

Another good thing to think about with your tea is Fair Trade.   GOOD Magazine wrote a news article on the whole idea of being Fair Trade.   Being that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world and the sixth most consumed in the US, everyone should do their part to give tea growers a good life.   Thankfully, Americans are doing just that.   Tea consumption is on the rise and per Fair Trade USA, between 2012 and 2013, Fair Trade Certified teas (produced by cooperatives and farms) imports jumped by 26%!   Given that tea consumption in the US has quadrupled since 1990, that is HUGE.

But what does it mean to be Fair Trade?

To get Fair Trade Certified, a company must ensure that the farmers receive safe working conditions as well as sustainable wages and fair capital.   The capital is determined by the prices set for the products.   Workers also get a premium (the extra price that a consumer pays for a product that a consumer pays for a product that goes back to the farm source), which they can choose to invest back into the farm or the community.

The work is very strenuous and is often done by working mothers, many of whom tend the fields with their babies still on their back.   In some circumstances where companies are not Fair Trade certified, these women are getting paid $1.35 a day, not enough to feed their families.   Some even have to resort to human trafficking and sending children to bigger cities for the possibilities of better work opportunities.   However, Fair Trade certified companies do not have that.

When a company becomes Fair Trade certified, the farmers democratically decide how their Fair Trade premiums.   In India, this often goes into college scholarships or retirement funds.   In China?   This goes to building school dorms, building roads, installing gas stoves, or building sanitation facilities.

While being organic is not required, many companies go this route.   All the same, Fair Trade certification enforces environmental standards to help maintain healthy living conditions and working conditions, such as restricting the use of pesticides and fertilizers, banning GMOs, and protecting water resources.

So do yourself, farmers, and the world a favor.   Buy Fair Trade.   Help the farmers, help the earth, and make your heart smile.

The Power of Tea!

While reading through my Google News Alert for tea the other day (yes, I am that obsessed), I saw one headline that intrigued me:

High-tech tea bags transform dirty water” from ABC News.

…Wait, what?

Photo Courtesy of Pablo Tosco from ABC News, showing women gathering drinking water for their families.

Photo Courtesy of Pablo Tosco from ABC News, showing women gathering drinking water for their families.

I read further and found out that  Professor Eugene Cloete and his team at Stellenbosch University have developed a “tea bag” containing active carbon granules.   These granules can kill even the nastiest germs and bacteria, which Professor Cloete says is the main problem.   He expects this tea bag to pretty much eradicate cholera!

This tea bag, made up of microfibers one hundredth of the width of a human hair (seriously, pluck out a hair and look at it.   Now imagine something one hundredth of the width of that strand!) is placed over the neck of a dirty water bottle in a special cartridge still being created.   When the water is poured out, it will come out clean.

If these tea bags pass safety tests, it will be distributed to nations in need.

One thing that people know about me is that I love tea.   I’m pretty sure that I’ve made that obvious through this blog and my plan to one day write a book about tea.   My second passion that is probably on par with tea is philanthropy.   Yes, I have gone as far as to write about that as well for The Examiner.   The concept that these two passions have finally come together is really exciting to me!

Think about it – the idea of the tea bag has been around since about 1904 when they were first marketed by New York tea and coffee shop merchant Thomas Sullivan.   Now, 108 years later, this simple concept is being developed to save perhaps thousands of people from facing terrible diseases, some of which are fatal.

Personally, I am curious how else the idea of the tea bag or even just tea in general can be used to save lives.   A mesh bag, a “miracle drink,” boiling water – surely that combination can create endless possibilities for usage and inspiration.

It’s nice to hear that something so simple and so small can be used to make a world of a difference.