Non-GMO Project Verified Teas

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October is Non-GMO month, a month meant to raise awareness and educate about genetically modified crops and their effect on the environment and our health.
Did you know that Choice Organic Teas was the first tea company in the U. S. to receive Non-GMO Project Verification? We’re proud to have the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on our products and we hope to answer some common questions about GMOs and their place in the tea industry for you.

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes are spliced together in ways that would not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. There are currently a handful of crops in production that have been genetically modified: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and yellow summer squash. Nearly all of these crops have been engineered to tolerate direct applications of herbicide and/or to produce their own insecticide. These crops are referred to as “at-risk” or “high-risk” ingredients. Although tea is not from genetically modified plants, many additional ingredients and materials that go into tea can be derived from genetically modified organisms. A list of ingredients commonly derived from GMO sources can be found here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

What does it mean for a tea company to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
The Non-GMO Project Verification process is comprehensive. It requires on-going testing of all raw at-risk ingredients, their traceability, and their segregation to ensure ingredient integrity. Further, audits and onsite inspections for at-risk ingredient inputs are conducted annually.

While our tea does not contain any at-risk ingredients, supporting the Non-GMO Project goes hand in hand with our commitment to providing organic, high quality products. Should Camellia sinensis or any other herb we use become genetically modified, we will proudly be sourcing only Non-GMO crops. To learn more about obtaining and maintaining Non-GMO Project Verification visit here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/product-verification/about-gmo-testing/guidelines/

Why would a tea company want to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
With corn being one of the most ubiquitous GMOs on the market, it’s no wonder we’re finding it in animal feed, gasoline, biodegradable plastics, and teabags. The teabags we use for our Original, Gourmet, and Wellness lines are made of natural abaca fiber. Abaca, also known as Manila hemp, is a species of banana that is native to the Philippines. This hardy plant has historically been used in making ropes, twines, and many specialized paper products including teabags. We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing high quality ingredients and our packaging materials are equally as important.

If you are already USDA Organic, why do you need to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
While all of the tea we source meets USDA Organic standards, it is also important to be Non-GMO Project Verified. The organic standard does not allow farmers to plant genetically modified crops. However, it does not require ongoing testing to confirm that cross-contamination has not occurred. Having both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the gold standard when looking for products that are free from pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified plants.

Read our press release about being the first tea company to earn the Non-GMO Project Verified label here.

We’re sofi Awards Finalists!

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Each year, right before the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, the Specialty Food Association announces outstanding products and brands in the specialty food industry called the sofi Awards. A sofi is the top honor in the $120.5 billion specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association.

This year, we’re happy to announce that our Licorice Mint and Jasmine Green were honored as finalists among 100 products in the Outstanding New Product and Hot Beverage categories, respectively. Each entry is carefully assessed by passionate and knowledgeable food professionals including chefs, culinary experts, academics, food writers, and category buyers.

These products come from our Gourmet Teas line that were developed to intrigue connoisseurs as well as the next generation of tea drinkers with unique flavor profiles and expertise in blending and sourcing. What a thrill it is to be acknowledged for our hard work and outstanding products in this highly revered and competitive sofi Award competition!

We’ll be showcasing the Gourmet Teas and more at the Summer Fancy Food Show, so if you’ll be attending, be sure to stop by our booth to sample and talk about these delicious teas with our team.

World Water Day: Recognizing the Global Water Crisis

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Rupali and Dipali, drinking water at the tapstand, Indramoni Para, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Rangamati District, Bangladesh. Photo credit: WaterAid/Juthika Howlader

As a tea company, we feel that fresh, pure water is essential for that perfect cup, but for millions of people across the globe, it is not as easy as simply turning on the faucet. Today, 650 million people worldwide still live without access to safe water, one in three (2.3 billion) people do not have access to proper sanitation, and approximately 315,000 children under five die every year from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation – that’s 900 children per day.

Tuesday, March 22nd is World Water Day, a day established to direct the world’s attention to the global water crisis. Access to clean, safe water, proper toilets, hygiene, and sanitation is paramount to living a healthy, long life and yet so many people still go without or with less, forced to use dirty water for daily drinking and washing; some must openly defecate and urinate, contaminating local water sources even further with no better options available.

For every box of tea sold on our website throughout the month of March, Choice Organic Teas pledges to donate 20¢ to WaterAid, a global organization dedicated to “transforming the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.” With this goal in mind, WaterAid dedicates funds to working with local partners and providing them with the support they need to help communities manage sustainable projects that meet their specific needs. Their efforts also go towards changing policies and practice to ensure water, hygiene and sanitation’s vital role in reducing poverty is recognized. Choice Organic Teas has proudly partnered with WaterAid since 2012, making this the fourth year in a row to participate in their World Water Day campaign.

In addition to our contributions, we will be going #Blue4Water, and you should, too! This World Water Day (March 22nd), show your support for the human right to safe water by posting a picture of you, your family, friends, co-workers, and pets wearing blue on your social media of choice. Be sure to use the hash tag #Blue4Water and #WorldWaterDay to join the movement. We hope to see you in the conversation!

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The Choice Organic Teas team goes #Blue4Water in 2015.

If you’re looking for a little extra savings, mark your calendars for March 18th -31st to receive 10% off ALL boxed teas which will help us support this great cause while also treating yourself to your favorite organic teas.

Do you wish to donate directly? Text the word WATERAID to 80077 to donate $10 instantly and this amount will be added to your next monthly bill with your cellular provider or visit WaterAid’s website to donate now.

Great Tea Doing Great Things

Choice Organic Teas had a very exciting 2015! We refreshed our Gourmet Teas, introduced four new teas to our Wellness* line, and attended many trade shows and industry events where we connected with partners and consumers alike. After reflecting on what 2015 brought Choice Organic Teas, we were excited to see how much we were able to give back to our community and partners in Seattle and beyond last year.

Food Banks:

One of the most direct ways we can help those in need in our community is by donating tea to local food banks. In 2015 we were able to donate roughly 100 cases (600 boxes!) of tea to Food Lifeline. We also hosted a month long food drive during December and donated 140 pounds of food to Puget Sound Labor Agency’s food bank. Our total contribution of tea and food drive items to local food banks in 2015 was $3,232.40!

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Choice Organic Teas drops off Holiday Food Drive donations to Puget Sound Labor Agency.

Non-Profit Organizations:

WaterAid
In honor of World Water Day (March 22nd),  we partnered with WaterAid, a non-profit dedicated to helping some of the poorest countries in the world gain access to clean water. With help from our customers, we donated 20 cents for every box of tea purchased on our website throughout the month of March. Our staff members also contributed to the #Blue4Water social media campaign throughout the month. After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, we partnered with WaterAid again to support their relief efforts. With both events combined we were able to raise $1,130 for WaterAid.

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Choice Organic Teas participating in WaterAids #Blue4Water campaign.

The Max Foundation
For the first time, we had the honor of partnering with the Chai for Cancer campaign coordinated by the Max Foundation, a global health non-profit organization that believes that all people living with cancer have the right to access the best treatment and support. We donated a total of 60 boxes of our Masala Chai along with cups and other materials for addas (events) across the country that resulted in over $30,000 in funds raised.

“The Max Foundation’s collaboration with Choice Organic Teas was a true highlight for us throughout 2015.  The company generously donated tea for our Chai for Cancer initiative benefiting people facing cancer in India, as well as gifting us tea to include in our end of year fundraising campaign.  In addition to raising funds, their gift of tea truly raised spirits across the country.  Drinking tea together brought people closer for a cause.  And, of course, everyone loves their products!  It has been a win-win partnership based on our shared values that we look forward to continuing in the New Year.”
-Erin Schwartz, VP of Strategic Partnerships & Global Advocacy at The Max Foundation

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Viji Venkatesh, Head of The Max Foundation India team and Region Head for South Asia, speaks in front of Chai for Cancer fundraising event during the summer of 2015.

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We partnered with PCC Farmland Trust again this year and donated over $2,500 to support the preservation of threatened farmland in the Northwest.


Bastyr University Student Scholarship Fund
For every box of Wellness Teas* sold, we donate a portion of the proceeds to the Bastyr University Student Scholarship Fund helping to promote the future of natural medicine.

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Some of our popular Wellness Teas*, each box sold contributes a portion of the sales to the Bastyr University Student Scholarship Fund.

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For every kilo of tea purchased from Fair Trade Certified™ gardens, Choice Organic Teas makes payments directly to funds managed by the workers at the tea garden. These accounts are empowering workers to improve their own lives and benefit the community.

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A Fair Trade Certified™ tea garden.

Other Community and Fundraising Events:

Each year we get many invitations from organizations, schools and events requesting tea donations for auction, beverage service, and other needs. We are pleased to contribute to fundraising efforts and events in support of issues that align with our company values. Last year we were able to donate over $5,000 worth of tea to roughly 50 different organizations across the country. That is a lot of tea!

Looking back on what 2015 offered, it is heartening that our company is able to give back and support many worthwhile causes. And looking forward, we can only hope to do better in 2016. If supporting any of these causes is important to you, remember that each time you purchase Choice Organic Teas, your dollar goes beyond the delicious cup of tea you’re enjoying.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year!


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

 

 

 

Proudly Manufacturing Teas in Seattle, WA

Did you know that we are one of the few tea companies in the U.S. that manufacturers our own teas? Many companies outsource this entire process overseas, but we proudly blend and package our teas at our certified organic facility in Seattle, WA.

For twenty-five years, we’ve been sourcing organic teas from around the globe, building a worldwide network of direct relationships with tea growers and suppliers of consumer and earth friendly tea packaging materials, such as unbleached natural fiber tea bag paper and string. To us, an important part of being an outstanding organic tea company is that we also package the delicious teas that we source. Along with proudly contributing to the U.S. job market, being our own manufacturer allows us to control quality more on several counts.

One of the important ways we assure quality is that our manufacturing plant has a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) management system in place. HACCP management ensures food safety by monitoring and recording every step involved in the processing of our teas, from when the tea arrives at our facility to when it is shipped to you.

Another benefit to packaging our teas is that we only manufacture teas. We don’t have to worry about cross-contamination from other types of foods that may be common allergens, because we don’t process any other types of foods. We’ve even gone the extra step to be gluten-free certified and kosher certified.

We also have an in-house machine shop with technicians specially trained to keep our tea packing machines running smoothly. We can make adjustments as soon as we notice a problem, or fashion new parts that may be needed.

Because we maintain such a commitment to high-quality teas and their manufacturing, we’re always happy to hear if you encounter an issue with any of our products so we can resolve it as soon as possible. If you ever have a problem, you can reach us at info@choiceorganicteas.com or 800-882-8943.

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Earl Grey Packaging Improvements Are On the Way!

Earl Grey Packaging Update

Besides sporting the new look of our Original Line teas, we are pleased to announce the packaging for our Earl Grey and Decaf Earl Grey has been modified to better preserve the real, organic bergamot oil in these teas.

While pure bergamot oil tastes and smells delicious, it has presented some challenges for our biodegradable packaging, such as neutralizing the food grade adhesive that holds the box together and causing the paper envelopes to open. We apologize if you or any of your customers have experienced these inconveniences.

We use paper envelopes in our Original Line to reduce their environmental impact, but of course, we need to maintain our commitment to quality as well, which is why we have decided to package the Earl Grey and Decaf Earl Grey with airtight, sealed envelopes. With this change, the boxes will be slightly larger and no longer need the cellophane overwrap.

We appreciate your understanding of our decision to make these changes and hope it will improve your experience. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach us at 1-800-882-8943 or info@choiceorganicteas.com.

Notice anything different?

New Original Boxes

We’ve made some improvements to our Original Line packaging. Can you spot the changes?

  • New 100% Organic logo added – All of our teas are certified organic by the USDA (95% organic ingredient minimum) and most of our teas qualify as 100% organic
  • New Gluten-Free Certified logo added
  • Non-GMO logo added to front panel
  • Updated Fair Trade Certified logos stating percentage of Fair Trade ingredients

Even though our third-party certifier does not require it, we added the percentage of Fair Trade ingredients under the front logo as part of our commitment to higher transparency. Most of our teas are Fair Trade Certified and many are 100% Fair Trade Certified. The only exceptions are teas that contain ingredients sourced from countries where the Fair Trade certification program is not available, such as the U.S. and Japan.

We hope that these improvements will further communicate our dedication to high quality teas that are socially and environmentally responsible.

Let us know what you think!