Each year on December 15, International Tea Day is celebrated to pay tribute to tea-producing countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Vietnam, among others. Not to be confused with another International Tea Day on May 21 led by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this day (December 15) is meant draw attention to the impact that tea trade has on workers and growers. So, what is the historical significance of the day and how is it celebrated around the world?
International Tea Day was created at the World Social Forum in 2004. The day was first celebrated the following year in New Delhi, and Sri Lanka began organizing celebrations of its own in 2006. Since then, trade union movements and global tea conferences, such as the World Tea Conference + Expo, have been responsible for organizing International Tea Day events.
The day honors the health benefits, economic importance and cultural heritage of tea, while ensuring a more sustainable production from field to cup. Bringing together civil society organizations and small tea growers, this holiday aims to regulate uneven competition, safety regulations, land occupation, social security, living wages and women’s rights for all tea workers.
Grown in over 35 countries, tea cultivation supports the livelihoods of around 13 million people. According to Grand View Research, 41 percent of tea’s revenue share is driven by the Asia Pacific region, specifically Japan and China. Nearly 160 million Americans drink tea daily and 68 percent of UK citizens drink at least one cup per day.
Aside from water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. It is believed to have originated in China in 350 A.D. when it was mentioned in a dictionary for the first time under the name “Erh Ya.” At the time, drinkers used it for medicinal purposes, but it made its way to Europe in the 16th century where it became a widely traded commodity thanks to the establishment of the East India Company in England.
How to Celebrate International Tea Day
Seminars, public campaigns and presentations are traditionally held on International Tea Day with the goal of strengthening the regulations for tea growers’ associations. Other than recognizing tea as an important export crop for countries that produce it, tea culture is also celebrated by enthusiasts. You don’t have to be from a tea-producing country to celebrate this day.
To participate, people can discuss the problems faced by the tea plantations, producers and consumers. They can also partake in various exhibitions as a form of dedication to tea and gather useful information. To take it a step further, people can even visit to the nearest tea plantation and ask the workers about the challenges they face.
Participants can also keep it simple by drinking a cup of their favorite tea or trying a new kind of tea. They can also share it with others by throwing a tea party or taking a friend out for a cup. No matter how you celebrate International Tea Day, it is important to remember the history and hard work that goes into each cup.