Here’s the real story behind your cup of tea

When you wrap your hands around a toasty cup of tea this winter, consider the source.

The U.S. imports about 400 million pounds of tea each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tea makers often market their product with the idea that sipping tea is a relaxing, nearly spiritual experience. But for many of the people who produce our tea, life is hardly tranquil.

The United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and human rights lawyers describe tea-leaf pickers living and working in vile, dangerous conditions. Child labor is prevalent, as is wage theft and even human trafficking on tea plantations across the globe.

This week on Shortwave, we tell you all about where your cup of tea comes from with Peter Rosenblum, a lawyer and professor at Bard College who spent two years investigating Indian tea plantations and produced this report. We also spoke with Ruth Dearnly, director of Stop the Traffick, an organization that produced “Not My Cup of Tea,” a report on human trafficking in the industry.

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