Where do the tea leaves in Honest Tea come from?

Our tea leaves come from tea gardens in China and India. They are Fair Trade Certified™ and organic. In fact, we’ve been using organic tea leaves since 1999.

The types of tea leaves we use are:

  • black tea leaves (India)
  • green tea leaves (China)
  • oolong tea leaves (India)
  • white tea leaves (China)

They all actually come from the same plant – the camellia sinensis – but vary based on when they are harvested, dried and oxidized (a natural chemical reaction of the leaf’s enzymes that alters its flavor, color and aroma). Black tea leaves, for instance, are fully oxidized, giving them their dark color, while green tea leaves are not.

Watch how tea leaves are plucked from a tea garden in India and make their way into our Honest Teas.


How do the tea leaves get into Honest Tea?

Honest Tea leaves are handpicked. “Pluckers” pick the two leaves and bud from the top of the tea bush. Once picked, they are dried and processed through heat and/or oxidation.

We then heat water and steep our tea leaves before bottling, just as you might do at home. Finally, whenever possible, the used tea leaves are returned back to the soil as compost.


Did you know? Organic tea in India is handpicked from the same plant every 7 days. Growers must avoid overharvesting as it can hurt the tea bush.

What does Fair Trade Certified™ mean?

All of our tea leaves have been Fair Trade Certified™ since 2011.

Products and goods with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal are made with people and the planet in mind. This means the people making them “work in safe conditions, protect the environment, build sustainable livelihoods, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities” (Fair Trade).

Each time you purchase a Fair Trade Certified™ item, a “premium” is added to the market price paid that goes back to the community. Then, a counsel of workers from the tea gardens we source our tea leaves from decides how the money will be spent. Among other things, Honest Tea’s Fair Trade premiums have been used for school supplies, a computer learning center and bio-gas stoves.


What does certified organic mean?

All of our ingredients, including our tea leaves, are USDA Certified Organic. This means Honest Tea drinks are non-GMO.*

The term “organic” is used to describe products and ingredients that meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To be considered organic, the USDA says they can’t be produced using:

  • synthetic fertilizers
  • irradiation
  • genetic engineering

*This means genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not used in Honest Tea drinks.


What other ingredients do you use in Honest Tea? Where do they come from?

Our organic ingredients come from all over the world. These include:

  • fruit (apple, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, grape, mango and more)
  • sweeteners (agave syrup, cane sugar, honey and more)
  • herbs and spices (cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, spearmint and more)

Read about where they come from.


Learn more