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A Standard of Transparency

July 17, 2019

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The tea market and the industry have made it clear that transparency is the way of the future – but what is transparency? I have been building a culture of transparency in the agriculture supply chain since 2010. At first I was a lone ranger; but now I see almost every tea company in the US is promoting some level of transparency in their marketing. There is no generally accepted definition of transparency: Which means there is no standard. 

Through my experience in building Tealet, I would like to offer the industry and the consumer a New Standard of Transparency through the form of questions and information. These are the questions that are asked of any individual that would like to sell their products through my marketplace software. The ability to answer the 30 questions below is not a definite indicator of transparency (the wrong answer can be given to you), but it is a great start in building your understanding of transparency and ethics in the tea industry.

As a consumer or a business owner you have every right to ask someone that is selling you a product these questions. With the answers, you can make a more informed purchase decision without relying on outside certifications or sly marketing terms. An answer that doesn’t meet your standards or a non-answer are clues to determine if you want to support that supplier.

  1. What is the farm name?
  2. What is the website of the farm, if there is one?
  3. Who is the Farmer/President?
  4. What is the main contact email address?
  5. What is the farm address?
  6. What is the main farm phone number?
  7. What languages are spoken among members?
  8. When was the Farm establish?
  9. What altitude are your fields?
  10. What certification do you have? (US Organic, ISO, Fair Trade)
  11. How many owners or partners are involved in the farm?
  12. How many members do you have?
  13. How many members are part-time/contractors?
  14. What is the minimum wage your workers earn?
  15. How many acres/fields do you have?
  16. What cultivars are planted in your farm?
  17. Are your plants planted from seeds or clone?
  18. Do you accept visitors to your farm?
  19. Does your farm have accommodations for guests to stay during a visit?
  20. How close is the nearest location with hotels and accommodations for guests?
  21. What type of tea do you grow/process?
  22. What percentage of your production is commodity, bulk, specialty/handmade?
  23. What is your average annual production output of finished tea?
  24. Do you process your own tea or sell it to another processor?
  25. If you sell your green leaf to a factory what arrangement do you have for selling the final product or what price are you paid for the green leaf?
  26. What kind of factory is used to process your tea?
  27. If the processor is different than the farmer, provide information about the processor/tea maker?
  28. If you are a processor that processes green leaf from the surrounding small tea growers, what price per kg do you pay for the green leaf? (list all grades)
  29. What makes your tea products special?
  30. What is your message to the world of tea lovers?

In the spirit of transparency I welcome anyone that has any questions or points to raise to contact me at info@tealet.com. I look forward to taking this discussion further.

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