The Main Differences Between Sustainable, FairTrade®, and Organic Labels on Tea and Why You Should Care

By Paul Bain

Have you ever wondered what the difference between organic tea and regular tea is? Not to worry- we’re here to clear up any confusion you may have related to the labels you might find on a package of tea so that you can make an informed choice about which tea you drink.

First, Let’s Define Organic Tea, FairTrade® Tea, and Regular Tea (the Supermarket Stuff) 

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a conscious consumer, so good on you for doing your part to understand what kind of tea farm your tea comes from. Let’s take a look at the difference between organic tea and regular tea, as well as how fair trade tea fits into the mix.

Organic Tea

Whether you prefer organic green tea, organic black tea, or any other kind of sustainable tea, you have probably heard that organic tea is better for you and the environment compared to non-organic tea.

That’s because organic tea is grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. These chemicals leach into soil and groundwater and can disrupt ecosystems and reduce natural biodiversity.

Organic tea farms are usually smaller than typical commercial tea farms and rely on natural agricultural techniques like composting and pheromone traps. Certified organic teas also guarantee there are no preservatives in your tea.

FairTrade® Tea

FairTrade tea is just what it sounds like- fairly traded! It’s a tea that is certified as being ethically produced. You can be confident that the people who grow and process fair trade tea are compensated justly for the work and resources they provide.

the difference between organic and fairtrade tea

So why do we need fair trade labels? As much as we’d like to believe that most farmers in formerly colonized countries are paid fairly for their labour, it simply can’t be guaranteed. The purpose of the fair trade label is to provide a verified and transparent system to ensure that farmers have safe working conditions and adequate wages.

Regular Tea

When we say regular tea, we mean the normal supermarket stuff that isn’t labeled as organic or fair trade. If it’s not labeled, then it’s non-organic tea, which means it is produced using fertilizer, pesticides, and other chemicals meant to prevent the crops from being damaged by insects and fungus. 

Non-organic tea is usually mass produced and has many steps in its supply chain, meaning it uses more resources. Unfortunately, the tea industry can be exploitative when it comes to labour practices, with tea farmers often not earning enough money to support their families.

How Organic, FairTrade® Tea Impacts Community and the Environment

Organic, fair trade tea is good for you, the environment, and the communities who grow it. Let’s start with how fair trade tea is beneficial for communities. 

Fair Trade Organic Tea Ensures Farmers Earn Enough to Support Their Families

We all deserve to be paid fairly. Fair trade tea ensures that tea producers receive fair wages so that they can work their way out of poverty and have a stable income that allows whole families and communities to thrive.

Fair Trade Organic Tea Encourages Healthier and Safer Working Conditions

To be certified as Fairtrade®, tea has to be produced under safe working conditions. Regulations in many tea-growing countries are not strong enough to protect workers, with little oversight when it comes to protective equipment for spraying crops with pesticides. Organic tea farming eliminates exposure to harmful chemicals and the danger of poisoning.

Fair Trade Organic Tea Promotes Better Environmental Practices

Organic tea is grown using all-natural methods and on a much smaller scale than conventional tea. This is better for local ecosystems because there are no harmful chemicals or heavy metals that leach into the soil and groundwater. Plus, the soil stays healthier due to nutrients being returned to it through compost, instead of becoming depleted by overuse of fertilizer.

How JusTea Supports the Kenyan Community

JusTea organic farmer direct tea, support kenyan farmers


JusTea is one of the most committed fair trade tea brands in Canada. Our business was founded with the goal of empowering small-scale tea farmers to earn a good living.  JusTea is the first small-scale farmer-direct tea from Kenya. We go beyond fair-trade by working closely with tea farmers, pickers, and factory workers to ensure everyone is paid a livable wage and social programs have tangible community impact.

JusTea, A Proud Member of the Fair Trade Federation

We are proud members of the Fair Trade Federation which is a holistic approach to fair-trade supply-chain.

JusTea is one of the few tea companies in North America that have been verified by the FTF because all of our teas strictly follow fair-trade principles. Unlike other brands which offer 'non fair-trade teas' mixed in with a few 'fair-trade teas', you can trust JusTea’s entire tea collection to be 100% Fair-Trade.

Learn more about the main differences between FTF verified brands and Fair-Trade certified brands here.

Shop Organic, Justly Made Tea

Now that you know what the difference between organic tea and regular tea is, you’re equipped to make your own decision about what kind of tea you buy. If you’d like to support healthy communities and ecosystems, here are a few delectable whole leaf teas for you to add to your shopping list!

Organic Green Tea

The benefits of green tea have been well-researched, and our organic green teas have the additional benefit of supporting an amazing community of small-scale tea farmers! 

This Genmaicha tea is blended with coconut, papaya, and a touch of cinnamon for a warm, aromatic experience. 

This unique green tea has a vibrant flavour, unlike any other green tea you’ve ever tried.

Organic Black Tea

Our award-winning fair trade black teas have bold flavours and provide the focused caffeine kick you need as a pick-me-up at any time of the day.

Made with cold-pressed bergamot oranges, the bright citrus notes of this black tea will give you the right kind of energy!

A cup of this flavourful tea will transport you to the lush tea gardens at the base of Mt. Kenya.

Our teas are available as loose leaf and tea bags. In addition to green tea and black tea, we have a variety of other delicious teas, including purple and herbal types. We invite you to give organic, fair trade tea a try and taste the difference!

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