The Mate Factor tea brand and cafe businesses of the Bible-based Twelve Tribes cult

October 2015
Today I read “Children of the Tribes” by Julia Scheeres, an article about alleged abusive practices of unpaid labor and child abuse in the Twelve Tribes cult.  This paragraph from the article caught my eye:
The Tribes now has communities at 12 locations around the globe, most of them in New England, together intended to represent the original 12 tribes of Israel.  The group owns not only restaurants but also businesses in construction, landscaping, body-care products, and tea.  A former leader gave me tax documents which showed the group earned $26 million in 2012.  These earnings are tax exempt and fueled by members’ free labor – including that of children.  Like the Amish, the Tribes stops homeschooling children after eighth grade so that they can work, a practice they call “apprenticeship.”  Younger kids are tapped if there is a push to fulfill a contract.  “We make no apology,” Wade Skinner, the elder, said when asked about this.  “It’s the age-old practice of families.”
After some cursory digging, it’s apparent that the Twelve Tribes group is affiliated with the tea-serving Mate Factor cafes and is probably affiliated with the tea brand Mate Factor.  Mate Factor doesn’t mention the Twelve Tribes on its website, but the cafes are listed on the official Twelve tribes website.  The Mate Factor Cafe web site links to the Mate Factor tea brand website.
The Mate Factor tea brand web site does not appear to link to either the Mate Factor Cafe or the Twelve Tribes website.  The tea brand also asserts that it supports fair trade and has never used child labor.
The WHOIS registration information for lists the same mailing address given by the Mate Factor tea brand.  The tea brand site WHOIS lists the same mailing address as the Twelve Tribes community in Ithaca, NY.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>