Iced or steaming hot tea is one of the world’s most loved beverages. People have valued its calming and rejuvenating effects since the 3rd century. For the love of tea, tons of tea bags lined with plastic end up in landfills and release microplastics into the environment. The demand for tea has had some companies employing unethical labor practices too. Eco-friendly tea brands ensure you can enjoy top-quality tea with fair labor conditions and lesser environmental impact.
This article shares 12 environmentally friendly tea brands we know you’ll love.
As you brew your favorite tea and enjoy the earthy aroma, you never imagine that your cup of tea is anything other than healthy. But you could be stirring microplastics into your brew, which you could consume. They seal and coat many traditional tea bags with plastic, and just one dip releases billions of micro and nano plastics into your tea1. And as we know, for all plastic packaging, these tea bags will not biodegrade.
Although choosing loose-leaf tea is better than tea bags, it also has environmental costs. The highest tea-producing countries are China, India, and Kenya, so your tea is most likely imported2. Add the emissions released during the planting and processing of the tea leaves and shipping halfway across the world, and the carbon footprint of each cuppa soon adds up. That is why it is important to choose the most eco-friendly tea you can find is important.
Eco-friendly tea goes beyond carbon emissions; it includes the workers along the supply chain. Reports of worker abuse and exploitation are common in the tea industry, and you are responsible as an avid tea drinker too. When you buy fair trade-certified teas, you know your purchase comes from a place where they pay farmers a fair wage for their produce.
Related: Check out our recommended options for reusable tea bags and strainers to brew the perfect cuppa from some of the loose tea options below.
Some brands are doing things differently so that you can enjoy a plastic-free and fair-trade cup of tea. We have picked each of these eco-tea companies with regard to sustainable packaging, fair trade practices, and organic ingredients.
This is a one-woman tea brand. Aureal Ojeda, the founder of this Milwaukee-based tea company, collects and sells different varieties of loose-leaf teas directly from fair-trade family farms around the world.
The brand has about 20 tea flavors, including Purple Kenyan tea, Black gold tea, Bold blue tea, and the Shi Feng dragon well tea. There are mixed teas, cocoa, and coffee flavors too.
Outwoken uses fully recyclable and backyard compostable packaging, mostly made from post-consumer waste. You can plant the labels on the box to grow flowers and herbs. The small business plants a tree for every pack of tea it sells and has planted over 1,000 trees so far.
English black tea is a variety that Outwoken tea doesn’t stock, so if that's your go-to choice, well, then this may not be the brand for you.
The Arbor tea company has really strong sustainability ethics. Most of their products are USDA-certified organic and are also fair trade certified. This brand doesn't use tea bags; they sell their loose-leaf tea in backyard compostable packs. Even the labels on the pack are biodegradable.
They have over 30 rich tea flavors, and you can follow Arbor teas on Instagram for unique tea and tea-based dessert recipes. And don't worry, these luxury teas do not cost loads, and they grow their leaves using organic farming methods to ensure little or no environmental impacts.
Arbor’s headquarters uses green energy, which is good for the environment. But to get the best organic teas, they do source from foreign countries, resulting in significant shipping emissions, which they offset by donating to the Carbon Fund.
There are really no cons to this brand; if anything, we think their website could be more user-friendly.
Numi’s product offerings include organic teas, herbal supplements, and teasans. You can choose from tea in small dippable tea bags or large loose-leaf tea packs. This brand presents you with loads of tea flavor choices with different blends and pure flavors. Seriously, you'll be spoilt for choice.
The brand sources tea that is handpicked teas from organic farms. These Numi teas are fair labor, organic and fair trade certified. The brand’s carbon offsetting efforts have earned it the Climate Neutral certificate. They measure and label each pack of tea with its carbon equivalent emissions, so you can easily track your tea's carbon footprint.
Transparency is something that Numi is getting right. The B-Corp company is open about its sustainability and sourcing practices.
Numi’s tea wrappers are plant-based, but you can only compost them industrially. But we don't have any sustainability information on the tea bags themselves or the loose-leaf tea packs.
Alaya promises you a taste of India with its organic teas sourced from India. They sell only loose-leaf teas, and they come in 10 flavors. Customers rave about the quality of Alaya teas. And why not? Alaya handpicks their teas from organic and biodynamic farms and gardens in small batches.
If you want to plunge into the world of sustainable tea, you can get the Alaya discovery box with lemongrass and black and green teas. Alaya teas are USDA-certified organic. Also, they only sell loose leaves; you won't find an Alaya tea bag.
This is one of our favorite zero-waste tea brands. They have plastic-free, 100% compostable packaging. Even the glue and zippers are fully biodegradable.
Although Alaya buys directly from fair trade-certified farms, the brand itself is yet to get a fair trade certificate.
Rishi has 95% of its products certified organic by the USDA. This is not to say the other 5% aren't organic. They are just grown in villages where they have different standards than a USDA certificate as proof of organicness.
This brand offers a variety of powdered, whole, and loose-leaf teas. Some of their products are available all year long, but others are only available seasonally. Their whiskey barrel-aged teas are one of their premium offerings. You can choose your rishi teas in either loose-leaf or tea bag varieties.
They make Rishi’s tea bags from plant-based material. They knit the material into a filter mesh sachet that is glue and staple free. So you can easily prepare your tea by dipping it without worrying about microplastics.
We don't know for sure if every other piece of packaging that Rishi teas come in is also sustainable. The information on that isn't easily accessible. Also, rishi engages in direct trade with Asian tea farmers but does not have a fair trade certificate.
Based in London, this small company sources its teas from fully sustainable farms. They buy directly from farmers in marginalized communities, paying a premium price to ensure fair trade tea. The company tests its teas independently and doesn't require farmers to do it, so small-scale farmers who can't afford to pay for organic certifications are not at a disadvantage.
Rare tea is gathered in small, richly flavored handcrafted batches. There are so many flavors and blends to choose from.
Rare tea avoids tea bags entirely; instead, their loose-leaf tea comes in tins and pouches. Both types of packaging are recyclable and reusable.
The brand isn't clear on what material they make their pouch from, but they make it clear that it isn't biodegradable.
This brand offers herbal tea blends for folks particularly interested in tea for wellness purposes. The brand’s teas are all caffeine free. They aren't a big tea brand, just a 60-acre garden that sells fresh and in-season herbs. The loose-leaf tea comes directly from the sacred blossom farm into your cup.
The brand seems to change its packaging every year, but so far, no plastic tea bags. Just reusable pouches and plastic cylinders.
The sacred blossom farm is not a monocultural setting like most tea farms. There are so many varieties of herbs, flowers, and wild plants growing on the farm. That makes it great for biodiversity.
Sacred blossom teas are not certified organic. To support its sustainability claims, the brand provides a video tour. In addition, the farm owner, Tony, invites anyone to visit the farm in Mondovi, Wisconsin, and see for themselves.
Getting into organic teas can be daunting, but Young mountain offers a sample pack with nine tea flavors. That way, you get a taste of splendid varieties, including the popular Kumoan white tea, on your first purchase. These organic tea makers offer over 20 different flavors.
The company sources its direct trade tea from India and Nepal. Primarily from Kumaon mountain regions, where tea farming had previously been abandoned due to low economic prospects. They have always sold loose organic tea leaves, but that may soon change.
You could help build a tea processing factory for the tea farmers of Champawat, North India. Young Mountain donates 1% of your purchase towards this ongoing project.
The plastic pouches that Young Mountain’s tea comes in aren't recyclable or compostable. However, it is made from 20% recyclable material, and you can reuse it as a high-quality ziplock bag.
This brand offers USDA-certified organic, fair-trade coffee, chocolate, and tea. It is one of the few tea companies that are revolutionizing the supply chain with worker ownership. The company partners with small-scale farmers to improve their processes and livelihood.
Equal Exchange tea leaves come from South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka. The teas include black, green, and herbal teas, all made to be compliant with kosher requirements. All their teas are certified organic as well. The brand has over a dozen tea flavors, but the chai, black, and earl grey flavors seem very popular with customers.
They line the tea envelopes with plastic, so it is neither compostable nor recyclable. Unless you find some creative use for it, landfilling is inevitable.
This certified B-corp is known for making luxury sustainable tea. They stock over 12 flavors; you may buy them in tea bags or loose-leaf tea packaging. The lemon ginger, hibiscus, and blood orange teas are quite the crowd-pleasers.
Beyond exquisite taste, this brand is impacting society by donating 10% of its profits to cancer research and providing drinkable water to communities in need.
The tea spot has quite a collection of compostable packaging. Still, the plastic-free tea bags made from sugarcane-based paper are our favorite because the bags bring avid tea drinkers sustainable convenience.
The tea spot uses fruit flavoring for some of its tea. Organic flavoring is different from organic flavor in the sense that the former has to have just 70% organic ingredients to be certified organic.
Yogi is another certified B-Corp on our list and is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The brand promotes organic and fair trade teas and development projects in tea farming communities. Some of their teas are also Rainforest Alliance Certified.
You can choose more than 40 eco-tea flavors from Yogi, although you'll hardly find any pure teas in its selection. Most of their teas are associated with health benefits like better digestion, stress relief, and energy boosting.
Yogi tea bags are made from abaca fiber, organic cotton string, and FSC-certified paper tags. You can compost the box but not the plastic-sealed envelopes.
Some of Yogi’s teas are certified as Made with Organic instead of USDA Certified Organic because they contain less than 95% organically grown ingredients.
Choice Organic is one of the organic tea brands in the Tea Partnership. They source sustainable tea from all over the world. The brand is transparent about where its teas come from. The brand is a pioneer in the organic tea industry in the United States. With about 20 products, you can choose between pure, blended, and herbal teas.
This brand packages its ethically sourced tea in unbleached tea bags. These zero-waste tea bags are compostable and come in recyclable paperboard cartons, so you'll be keeping your tea bag discards out of landfills.
Not every tea offered by this brand is fair trade. Also, they are yet to achieve fully compostable packaging. Like many other sustainable tea brands, they still use plastic-lined tea bag wrappers.
We created this list of sustainable tea brands to help you switch to earth-friendly teas. All the teas we recommend are from fully sustainable farms. They have different levels of caffeine, and some brands offer decaffeinated blends.
Hernandez, L. M., Xu, E. G., Larsson, H. C., Tahara, R., Maisuria, V. B., & Tufenkji, N. (2019). Plastic teabags release billions of microparticles and nanoparticles into tea. Environmental science & technology, 53(21), 12300-12310
Statista Research Department (2022) Global tea market size 2012-2025. Statista.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.