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The tea industry provides millions of people around the world with cups of tea in the morning. One of the biggest producers of tea, India, recognizes the importance of tea in its communities and as a commodity for commerce.

However, much of the working conditions for those within the tea industry still need much improvement. If you think this holiday was about drinking tea, well think again! International Tea Day is all about the tea workers and bringing civil rights into action. Let’s see how this holiday came to pass.

Do you love a good cup of tea? While International Tea Day can certainly involve paying homage to tea, we should pay homage to those working in the tea industry. The best way to do this is by helping to raise awareness regarding their working conditions so they can be improved.

History of International Tea Day

The International Tea Day campaign was launched in 2005 by the trade unions, small tea growers and civil society organizations in Asia and Africa to address the issues of living wages for workers and fair prices for small tea producers.

The International Tea Conference in New Delhi came out with an International Declaration on the rights of workers and small growers to help regulate uneven competition, land ownership, safety regulations, rights of women, social security and living wages. Another organization, The Tea Board of India, proposed International Tea Day in hopes of it becoming an official holiday to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

This was proposed by chairman Santosh Kumar Sarangi in 2015. According to the chairman, the proposal of India was supported by countries such as Canada, the United States, European Union, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Kenya, and Malawi. While the holiday doesn’t have official status, the goal of this holiday is to recognize the vulnerable situations that tea producers in India have with current living conditions and worker-related policies.

The day also focuses on deliberating on urgent issues such as residues, climate change, technology and trends on production and consumption in the tea industry. To observe this day, over 150 representatives from tea organizations gather and conduct a seminar to discuss the pervading problems the tea industry has as well as problems faced within their own country.

International Tea Day Timeline

2737 BC

Tea is discovered as a beverage

Legend has it that Chinese Emperor Shen Nung is sitting beneath a tea tree while a servant boiled water for drinking. Some leaves fall into the cup and begin  the practice of drinking what is now called “tea”.[1]


Tea comes to Europe

It is believed that the Dutch were the first to bring tea to Europe, just a few years prior to the introduction of coffee by Venetians.[2]


The Boston Tea Party occurs

With the intention of revolting against the high taxes levied by the British government without providing any voice, residents of Massachusetts throw tea into the Boston Harbor. “No taxation without representation” is the major complaint.[3]


International Tea Day is created 

At the World Social Forum, International Tea Day is conceived and then celebrated the following years in New Delhi and Sri Lanka, then later in other tea-producing places like Nepal, Viet Nam, Bangladesh and others.[4]


United Nations adopts International Tea Day 

After some years of advocating for its observance, International Tea Day is adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at the suggestion of the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea.[5]

How to Celebrate International Tea Day

If you’re a lover of tea, then do some research about some of your favorite companies. Try looking up tea brands that support fair trade, and possibly switch to those brands to make a difference in the way you buy products such as tea. Use the hashtag #internationalteaday to help recognize it as an official holiday and educate others about the tea industry if you’re interested.

You could also use International Tea Day to try a variety of tea you have never had before. Matcha, for example, is highly popular as of late. You need to shop with care, though! The first thing you need to take a look at is how the Matcha has been produced and sourced.

You need to ensure that all veins and stalks have been removed so that there is not any bitterness and only the finest leaves should be used. Secondly, the color of the matcha powder is a significant factor. The greener the color is, the better. This is because the leaves are forced to overproduce chlorophyll because Matcha is shade-grown, which causes the vibrant green shade.

If the Matcha is yellow or brown in color, this is a sign that the leaves have not been properly shaded or that branches and stalks have been included. The price is the third factor to consider. Like most things, if you want quality, you can expect to pay a little bit more.

If something seems too good to be true, the chances are that it is. The feel of Matcha is also important. It should be a fine powder that is very silky. Last but not least, the taste is obviously a crucial attribute when it comes to quality. It should have a clean and naturally sweet taste.

Why not make some delicious baked green tea treats on International Tea Day and have a bake sale to raise money and awareness regarding working conditions in the tea industry? Green tea recipes are available in their abundance. People are actively searching for different ways to enjoy green tea. While green tea is delicious when simply mixed with hot water, there is nothing wrong with switching it up from time to time, especially on International Tea Day!

An easy and delicious recipe is Matcha Meringue Kisses. To make this you will need Matcha, sugar, egg whites, and powdered sugar. Begin by sifting together the Matcha and the powder sugar, and then whip the egg whites until they have soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and whip until stiff peaks. Gently fold the Matcha into this mixture and then transfer to a pastry bag. Pipe the mixture into small kisses onto a baking tray and then bake for around an hour.

Or, why not make Green Tea Donuts? For this, you need green tea, honey, melted butter, milk, egg, salt, baking powder, sugar, and cake flour. You whisk the green tea, salt, baking powder, sugar, and flour. Add the honey, melted butter, milk, and egg, and then whisk. Use a pastry bag to pipe the batter into the mould. Then, simply bake the donuts for eight minutes. You can make your own glaze to go on the top – chocolate goes well!

Other delicious baked treats to try include green tea muffins, brownies and shortbread!

International Tea Day FAQs

What is International Tea Day?

Created to celebrate and pay tribute to the countries that produce tea to supply to the world, starting in India and moving to other places like Sri Lanka, Malawi, Uganda, Bangladesh, Vietnam and more.[1]

When was International Tea Day first celebrated?

International Tea Day first got its start in 2004 when it was celebrated in New Delhi. It grew over the years and by 2019 the day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.[2]

How to celebrate International Tea Day?

A great way to observe this day is by learning a bit more about the nations who produce tea for the world. Also, don’t forget to order a cup of fair trade tea for one, or take a friend out to enjoy a cuppa together.[3]

What is the theme of International Tea Day?

The theme for this day devoted to tea producers changes each year, but some of the past themes have included themes such as Tea and Fair Trade or Harnessing Benefits for All from Field to Cup.[4]

When is International Tea Day celebrated?

Taking place on May 21 of each year, International Tea Day originally took place on December 15 from 2005 when it was often only celebrated by tea-producing countries. It changed to May 21 when the UN adopted the day.[5]

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