Tea Associations launch Google Doodle-focused campaign for International Tea Day

This year marks the fifth anniversary of International Tea Day. Unlike coffee and cocoa which have their respective organizations – the International Coffee Organization and the International Cocoa Organization – tea has no international unifying body aside from the UN FAO IGG on Tea, which meets every two years. The United Nations endorsed the creation of International Tea Day through a resolution passed by the General Assembly on 19 December 2019 and has been celebrated annually on 21 May ever since. Its purpose each year is to set this day aside to honour tea while encouraging collective actions promoting sustainable production and consumption.

Considered an agricultural product that provides income to millions of smallholder farmers, tea is a ‘poverty relief crop’. These farmers often also grow other crops, which all help towards effecting a fair income. Similar to coffee, while some tea farmers are generating decent incomes (depending on the country and size of their farm), many others have no access to market and are struggling to make a living as production costs continue to rise while tea prices fall.

According to data issued by the International Tea Committee (published in its Annual Bulletin of Statistics), tea production continues to increase year over year, reaching 6.604 million metric tonnes in 2023 — up by 2 percent over 2022 and up by 26 percent over the past ten years. However, consumption continues to lag with a reported 2023 consumption tonnage of 6.212 million tonnes.

The global trade pattern of tea and coffee differ greatly, and tea is most often the cheapest at retail or in foodservice channels. It’s important to note that only about a quarter of the global tea production – 26 percent in 2023 – is exported, while nearly 75% is consumed in tea-producing countries — in contrast to coffee, in which more than two thirds of the global production is exported, and about 34 percent is consumed domestically. And although tea is reportedly still the most consumed beverage in the world after water, it has not been able to attract the global marketing, promotion and attention that coffee has. The introduction of International Tea Day was a step towards enhancing tea’s profile globally.

To drive awareness of this year’s International Tea Day (ITD), several tea associations from around the world such as the Tea Association of the USA, Tea & Herbal Association of Canada, and the UK Tea & Infusions Association, as well as tea boards from producing countries, have all embarked on a unique and ambitious campaign that is focused on Google, the ‘Google Doodle’, to be exact. Google dedicates its front page to major events and important dates, etc., through its Google Doodle. These ‘doodles’ appear on the front search page of Google. In a letter to Tea Association of the USA members, its president, Peter F Goggi, wrote:

“Google dominates the world’s searches. controlling ~ 85% of the searches done worldwide. The impact of people seeing the ‘Google Doodle’ approximates 40,000 searches every second. Imagine all 40,000 looking at an International Tea Day Doodle!

The power of our tea industry is in its collective voice, so, in conjunction with Tea & Herbal Association of Canada, UK Tea & Infusions Association as well as other Associations and Tea Boards globally, we are asking EVERYONE to jump on this bandwagon!!”

The Google team receives suggestions from around the world on which ‘doodle’ to consider and then chooses ‘doodles’ for the year.

Goggi asked US Tea Association members to submit an email to Google suggesting a Tea Theme for International Tea Day (21 May), not just for this year but for every ITD moving forward. For those interesting in lobbying Google, the email address is: [email protected]. The letter also included a link to a draft proposal that can be used as is or adapted as need. To access that draft, click here.

Whether or not you email Google on behalf of a ‘doodle’ in honour of International Tea Day, when drinking your daily cuppa (be it hot, iced or RTD), not just on 21 May or this month, but with every cup of tea, remember the people around the world toiling hard and yet typically under-appreciated, to produce the tea in your favourite cup.

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