Gifting Sri Lankan tea

When I meet people when I travel, my go-to gift was “Ceylon Tea” - after all, it is acclaimed as the best tea in the world.

And it still is - but now instead of talking about how they are grown at different elevations, or different ways of preparing and drinking it, or how the British introduced it after the coffee crops failed, I tell the story of how the industry of “the best tea in the world” is built on exploitation, so that when they drink it they will honour the unwilling toil of the Malaiyaha people by partaking not only in the fruits of their labour, but also their struggle for a life of dignity.

If there is a brand, or at least an estate, that makes “fair trade” tea, possibly using a model of co-operative ownership rather than wage labour, I will gladly choose it for my future gift giving.
(I don’t want products blue-washed by fancy CSR projects using some insignificant fraction of the profits, unless it is done well enough to achieve parity; for example if you are building a school, don’t build one that will track them into vocational programs: build a school so good that the representation of Malaiyaha youth in every discipline (including top fields like Medicine, Engineering and Law) will be proportional to their population)

PLACEHOLDER Update after writing about participation in the Malaiyaha walk and serving tea at the WRI event

Sifaan, I think it’s great that in addition to what is commonly known about Sri Lanka, you also share the real story and the history of the Malaiyaha people. It is so important to look beyond the surface and understand the true meanings.

I am also deeply moved by what you have written in your book about the Estonian history. Especially today, on Estonia’s Victory Day (Midsummer Eve).

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