According to the United Nations General Assembly, International Tea Day is celebrated on the 21st of May. The resolution in concern was passed on the 21st of December, 2019.

It requests that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conduct the commemoration. International Tea Day aims to increase awareness of tea’s long history and cultural and economic importance around the world.

The day encourages and fosters collaborative initiatives to implement activities that promote tea production and its consumption sustainably. The day emphasizes the significance of fighting hunger and poverty.

International Tea Day also strives to bring the impact of the global tea trade on workers and growers to the attention of governments and citizens worldwide. It has been related to price support and fair trade demands.

The Camellia Sinensis plant is used to make tea. After water, tea is the most popular beverage on the planet. Tea has come from northeast India, north Myanmar, and southwest China.

Tea and the developing countries

The exact location where the plant first grew is unknown. Tea has been around for quite some time. According to evidence, tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago. Millions of families in low-income countries rely on tea growing and processing for their livelihoods.

In addition, it is the primary source of income for millions of poor households in many developing countries. Tea is a significant source of income and export earnings for some of the world’s poorest nations.

It also creates jobs, particularly in rural and economically depressed areas, as a labor-intensive industry. Being one of the most important cash crops in developing nations, tea can help with rural development, poverty reduction, and food security.

It can provide health and wellness advantages. This is due to tea’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and weight-loss properties. In many societies, it also has cultural importance.

Tea production and the Sustainable Development Goals

Tea production and processing contribute to the reduction of extreme poverty (Goal 1), the fight against hunger (Goal 2), the empowerment of women (Goal 5), and the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (Goal 15).

Furthermore, public understanding of the relevance of tea for rural development and sustainable livelihoods is critical. The improvement in the tea value chain will contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tea and climate change

Changes in growing conditions have a significant impact on tea production. Tea only grows in a small number of countries with particular agro-ecological needs. But the climate change will have a severe impact on many of these countries.

Moreover, the temperature and rainfall patterns are changing, resulting in increased floods and droughts, hurting yields, tea product quality, and pricing, decreasing earnings, and jeopardizing rural livelihoods.

Besides, climate change is projected to worsen, necessitating immediate adaptation efforts. Simultaneously, there is a rising awareness of decreasing carbon emissions from tea production and processing to help mitigate climate change.

As a result, tea-producing countries should incorporate climate change challenges into their national tea development strategies, adaptation, and mitigation.

Key messages
  • Tea production and processing represent a source of livelihood for millions of families, including millions in the least developed countries.
  • Tea export earnings help finance food import bills, supporting the economies of major tea-producing countries.
  • The specific agro-ecological conditions where tea thrives occur in areas highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Logistics issues and measures imposed to contain COVID-19 affected the Global trade in 2020
  • Trade recovered in 2021 as shipments from major exporters resumed
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, tea sales remarkably increased, spurred by purchases for in-home consumption, as tea brought comfort to millions around the world
  • Increasing in-home consumption of tea more than offset declining out-of-home consumption in many instances.
  • To ensure benefits for both people and the environment, the tea value chain must be sustainable at all stages, from field to cup.