Your cuppa sends kids to school

You may well have noticed Clipper Tea on our shelves with its bright, bold packaging. What you may not be aware of is the change Clipper has brought to the lives of thousands of tea growers.

Started by Mike and Lorraine Brehme over 30 years ago, Clipper is now the UK’s largest Fairtrade tea company and has been an ethical business from the start.

“It was always about how you want to make a living,” founder Mike Brehme says. “I was in tea already, and I realised there was child labour involved and I thought that’s no way to make a living.”

Through Fairtrade Clipper supports both the tea producers and their communities, by paying a fair price for their tea, as well as a Fairtrade premium which can be invested back into the business or community.

Tea guy James says the Fairtrade principles have “a huge impact on all of the Fairtrade plantations and smallholders we work with. To be able to go back to those gardens year after year, and see tangible differences in their infrastructure and improvements in their healthcare and schools, it’s really fantastic to be involved in that.

“It’s been incredible to witness the impact our Fairtrade contributions make to the people on the ground. We were proudly shown around the new community centre and livestock shed in India recently, both paid for with the Fairtrade premium. It makes such a big difference to the local communities.”

Put simply “we saw it as our duty to improve the lives of the workers on the tea estates” the company says on its website.

Clipper has expanded beyond traditional black tea into green tea, herbal infusions, hot chocolate and most recently roasted and ground coffees.

They use unbleached paper for all their teabags and the string and tag bags contain no polypropylene. The company is currently trialling an alternative to polypropylene for its sealed square bags and hopes to be using plastic free bags by the end of this year.

“I think the future for Clipper is incredibly exciting. What we do really connects with modern-day consumers, having good quality mirrored with good ethics, and doing business in the right way. For me it’s just the perfect combination,” says Dan, their head of technical and R&D.