Celebrating International Tea Day with global events and a new tea sustainability survey 

The origins of tea date back 5,000 years and today, tea is still – reportedly – the second most consumed beverage in the world (after water). The global tea industry supports more than 13 million people, including smallholder farmers and their households, whose livelihoods depend on it. 

In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that establishes 21 May of each year as International Tea Day. Commenting on the creation of International Tea Day, the UNGA said it “is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural heritage, health benefits and economic importance of tea, while working to make its production sustainable ‘from farm to cup’ ensuring its benefits for people, cultures and the environment continue for generations.” 

In honour of the 4th International Tea Day (ITD), which takes place this Sunday, many events are taking place around the world on Friday, 19 May. For example, this year will feature the 3rd global observance in Rome led by the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO’s office in New York City will also be holding an ITD event, “A Magic Leaf: Tea for Green Development” in which Tea & Coffee Trade Journal is presenting – at the UN. 

The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC) is holding its 4th Annual Sofa Summit on 19 May, between 8:30am and 7:30pm EDT. Participants can travel virtually around the globe to chat with industry experts on the topic of ‘A Sustainable Tea Industry’. The 11-hour event will be streamed live on THAC’s YouTube channel. Click here for information about the event or click here to view the Sofa Summit. 

In December 2021, T&CTJ and Firsd Tea collaborated to create what we believed to be the ‘first of its kind’ tea survey to gauge perceptions of sustainability in the global tea industry among business leaders in the tea, coffee, cocoa, and wine sectors. The survey revealed that although professionals in tea and related industries believe some progress has been made on sustainability from 10 years ago, they are not hopeful for the immediate future. Additionally, all professionals agreed that changing rain patterns, unpredictable weather and extreme heat are the biggest climate change risk factors (95%, 94% and 91% respectively). 

According to the tea sustainability survey, which ran until February 2022, professionals in tea and related industries: 

  • Are worried about the effects of climate change on production (80% of respondents). 
  • Believe environment/carbon footprint is the most important sustainability issue to consumers (84% of respondents). 
  • Believe organic certification is the most important sustainability standard to consumers (85% of respondents). 
  • Say that out of tea, coffee, wine and cocoa sectors, tea is the most sensitive industry to the effects of climate change (93% for tea followed by 82% for coffee). 
  • Say that out of tea, coffee, wine and cocoa sectors, tea performs the best on worker’s rights (61% for tea followed by 46% for coffee). 

In honour of International Tea Day, T&CTJ, in conjunction once again with Firsd Tea, is launching a revised version of the tea sustainability survey. The survey – which takes about 10 minutes to complete – launches today. It will be interesting to see if responses have changed since 2021 and if so, which ones. 

Please access the survey here. We hope you will take time to share your thoughts on sustainability within the tea sector as it compares to sustainability within the coffee and cocoa industries this International Tea Day weekend, and of course, while enjoying your favourite ‘cuppa’ (or several)! 

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