It is a day that stands for more than a celebration of tea culture. International Tea Day is about creating a global action towards raising awareness of the impact of global tea trade on tea farmers’ and workers’ lives.
Established in 2005 by a group of tea farmers in India. They saw their country benefiting from the profits of the tea trade, without the positive impacts reaching the tea workers in the field. Continuing to work in poor conditions with low earnings, they harnessed power from their local labor force to create International Tea Day - representing a voice for change.
The collective effort seeks to redistribute power along the tea supply chain and encourage legislative protection for smaller players in the industry. Labor rights, wages, social security, and occupational health and safety are a few of many things in the discussion. With a greater ongoing aim to strengthen the status of small tea farms who are at constant threat of losing their market share to larger tea estates.
Generally, we see orthodox tea production among independent farmers who work with the skills and know-how passed down families and communities. The age-old methods utilized here are a better approach to ecological sustainability. As environmental concerns shape the way we think about the future of tea, it is important not to lose sight of the cultural heritage of it.
Cultivating tea to reflect the taste of its terroir is something rather beautiful. And the care given to the craft is what makes fine tea taste so good.
Do we taste the nuances of terroir? How many workers were in the field on the morning of harvest? Are these flavors true to the tastes of the local community? Are just a few questions we like to ponder beyond our cup.
As tea connoisseurship takes interest in rare and exclusive, high-quality tea, we expect to see a global shift towards the production from orthodox tea farms of single origin. With such a shift, coming directly from our growing awareness and readiness to spend that extra amount for quality yields, handmade by healthy workers in fair trade.
In the end, it is about tasting the uniqueness of a place and a culture of tea. And by acknowledging the origin and the makers involved helps to complete the story of the tea you have chosen. Here’s a sip for thought.
Pictures of tea workers in Malawi.