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Step aside, coffee and Coca Cola, for International Tea Day on December 15, we drink the most popular beverage in the world. The day mainly seeks to raise awareness on the impact the tea trade has on farmers and workers but is also celebrated by tea lovers worldwide. Did you know that the origins of tea have been traced back to China? It was mostly used for medicinal purposes until the 17th century when tea made its way to the United Kingdom. The main types include black, green, white, herbal, oolong, and pu’erh. While this holiday has been observed since 2005, in 2019 the United Nations introduced a new International Tea Day on May 21. We, of course, celebrate both, who doesn’t want double tea?
History of International Tea Day
There is no better way to start our day than with the pleasant taste and aroma of tea. Legend has it that tea was first discovered over 4000 years ago in China by Emperor Nun Shen. On one of his visits to a remote region, the leaves of a nearby tree blew into a pot of boiling water which his servants had placed over a fire. The refreshing aroma invited the Emperor to taste the beverage, and the first cup of tea was born.
In the 16th century, tea made its way across the globe to Europe by Dutch traders, where it became a widely traded commodity thanks to the establishment of the East India Company in England. The rest, as they say, is history.
Other than its taste and benefits, tea’s contributions to culture and socioeconomic development are just as relevant. Grown in over 35 countries, the cultivation of tea supports the livelihoods of over 13 million people.
Started by trade unions in 2005, International Tea Day celebrates the health benefits, economic importance, and cultural heritage of tea, all the while ensuring a more sustainable production from fields to our cups. Bringing together civil society organizations and small tea growers and businesses, this holiday aims to regulate uneven competition, safety regulations, land occupation, social security, living wages, and women’s rights for all tea workers.
Seminars, public campaigns, and presentations are traditionally held. The goal is to strengthen the regulations for tea growers’ associations. Other than recognizing tea as a big export crop for countries that produce it, tea culture is also celebrated by enthusiasts.
International Tea Day timeline
A Chinese dictionary mentions tea for the first time with the name ‘Erh Ya.’
Japanese Buddhist Eisai pens the first Japanese book on tea, titled Kitcha-Yojoki or Book of Tea Sanitation.
Disputes over taxes on tea resulted in the Boston Tea Party, when outraged citizens, with merchants storming ships to horde barrels of tea.
Thomas Lipton opened his first tea shop in Glasgow.
According to the United Nations, the resolution to observe International Tea Day annually on May 21 was passed.
International Tea Day FAQs
How do you celebrate International Tea Day?
Celebrate the fine sentiment behind a cup of tea by brewing your favorite blend for your favorite person.
Which is the highest tea producing country?
China is the largest tea producer worldwide. Its varieties include black and green teas, along with other native specialty blends.
How many cups of tea do the British drink each day?
According to tea.co.uk, approximately 100 million cups of tea are consumed by British people on a daily basis.
How To Celebrate International Tea Day
Try a new flavor
From mint to apple, to a whole fusion of assorted ingredients, try a new tea flavor!
Host a tea party
Round up the gang and host a tea party! You can prepare different blends of tea or even have a theme like a vintage English tea party.
Learn about your local tea producers.
It’s good to learn about how your favorite tea blend is sourced and produced. If a company’s policies are not fair to their workers, you may want to switch to a different brand.
5 Hot And Cold Facts About Tea
With over 20,000 different varieties of tea around the world, it is truly amazing that the actual tea plant from which the leaves are derived from - Camellia sinensis, has only 6 varieties.
The Most Expensive Tea in the World
At $1.2 million per kilogram, China’s ‘The Big Red Robe’ is the most expensive tea in the world
What a Novel-tea!
In 1908, an accident involving samples of tea packed into silk bags led to the creation of the first tea-bags.
As of now, the most popular tea in China is Bubble Tea or tapioca, whereas it’s chai in Pakistan and sweet iced tea in the US.
You’d think that the British consume the most tea, but it is actually the people of Turkey who drink more than anyone else.
Why International Tea Day is Important
Tea carries a world of history and culture
Every region in the world has its own way of drinking tea. Originating 4000 years ago, the traditions and culture surrounding tea are truly timeless, and with it come special ingredients and techniques that should be celebrated.
Supporting the tea industry
Tea is great to consume, but its production and extraction are labor-intensive. In many countries, a large working population relies on the tea industry for their livelihoods. Awareness of this and campaigning for the fair treatment of workers is truly important for reduced social impact and a sustained future of tea.
We are all for female empowerment and the tea industry is a testimony to the courageous and brave workforce of women who continue to produce this brew for connoisseurs worldwide. Unfortunately, these women are often not provided ideal work conditions and do not have access to basic education. Donating and supporting causes for the betterment of these women is crucial.
International Tea Day dates