We know that tea workers’ and farmers’ rights are not being respected. We know that this needs to change. Now is the time to come together to find solutions. It’s time to take action to bring about systemic change.

THIRST is a 100% independently funded platform for any and all civil society actors who are committed to revolutionising the tea industry.

Our Vision

Our vision is of a fair and sustainable tea industry where workers and farmers are empowered and their rights and environment are protected.

Our Mission

Our mission is to bring about systemic change by bringing together a broad range of civil society actors, tea workers and farmers.

Our Principles

Our core principles are collaboration, transparency, mutual understanding and respect.

The problems are well known

Civil society, trade unions and activists have been reporting and working on the problems of the tea industry for almost as long as it has existed. Some companies are also making efforts to improve things. Yet hardly anything has changed in the lives of workers and farmers. This is because change in individual companies or countries, or of one particular issue does not address the system that is at the root of all the problems.

Systemic Change

Tea workers are trapped in a 19th century system that creates poverty and suffering. We do not believe that any individual player in the tea industry intentionally abuses human rights. But they are all part of a system which has inequality deeply embedded in it. That is why we need to work together to bring about systemic change.


What THIRST does

Our mission is to bring together a broad range of civil society actors, tea workers and farmers, providing a platform for them to learn from one-another, and to challenge the way that the tea industry currently works; and support them in doing so. Our vision is of a tea industry shaped by 21st century values and systems rather than 19th century ones.

Updates, blog posts and events from THIRST

TEA Talk: Are tea cooperatives better for human rights?

In February’s THIRST TEA Talk, Dr Miriam Wenner of Goettingen University shared the findings of her research on two tea cooperatives in Darjeeling. It concludes that how a cooperative is set up can make the difference between an empowered workforce and one that ‘self-exploits’. Bebika Khawas of the University of North Bengal then analysed various […]

Imagine… a tea industry that puts people first

Simplifying supply chains? Not so simple. Starting out as a discussion on simplifying supply chains and sharing value more equally, THIRST’s latest TEA Talk blossomed out into a fascinating discourse on transformative business models, innovative financial approaches and the very fundamental question of how we as a global community value food. Because neither supply chains […]

Thinking Allowed: TEA – A Dark History

BBC Radio 4’s Laurie Taylor talks to the historian, Seren Charrington-Hollins, about the exploitation, wars & intrigue at the heart of the history of that most ‘British’ hot beverage. Also, Sarah Besky, Associate Professor in the Departments of International and Comparative Labour & Labour Relations, Law, and History in at Cornell University, discusses her study […]

Knowledge hub

There is a steadily growing wealth of resources scattered around the internet on the human rights and environmental problems in the tea industry, and potential solutions to these problems.
But it is only by pooling our knowledge and resources and by learning, speaking and acting together that we can bring about systemic change. In the first initiative of its kind, THIRST has brought an important selection of these valuable resources together into one easily-accessible knowledge hub.

Need an inspiring speaker for your next event?

Book an inspiring, challenging and informative talk on human rights in the tea sector for your next event. With a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them, THIRST’s CEO and Trustees are available as conference panelists, speakers, lecturers or trainers.

Want to take action? Get in touch to discuss how you can get involved as a civil society organisation or volunteer.