Tea holds vital importance, especially in South Asia. Not only is it a wonderful way to connect people, but it is also a valuable source of revenue for certain countries. Celebrated annually on the 15th of December, International Tea Day was first celebrated in 2005.
It is said that tea drinking first began during the Shang Dynasty in China in the Yunnan province. It was at first consumed for medicinal and health purposes. People would boil the tea leaves with nothing else added in water till it became a strong, concentrated liquid. People eventually simply began to drink it for energy.
Background of International Tea Day
The purpose of this day is to highlight the issues of smaller tea growers and how trading on an international level affects them. It was instigated after an International Declaration was presented on the International Tea Conference in New Delhi which would help regulate multiple issues, such as uneven competition, land ownership, women's rights, social security and living wages (the minimum amount of wages to maintain a normal standard of living).
It is quite clear that when the competition is fierce and international trade exists, the smaller businesses that trade in the same product might suffer because they don’t have the resources to market and advertise on a larger scale. Hence, this holiday was introduced as support for fair trade and price supports.
It also aims to improve the conditions of women and set standards for them on tea plantations. It deals with trade policies, employment security, labor rights, as well as workers’ international interests, i.e., import-export of their product.
This day is also taken up as a chance to highlight other chronic issues such as climate change and highlight the challenges the participating countries face in their respective nations.
Some of the teas producing countries are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India, and Tanzania, therefore it is celebrated here. These countries collaborate to support a healthier and fairer environment for their tea producers.
In celebrations of this day, 150 tea organizations send their representatives who hold a seminar to address all the problems faced by the workers. The conferences and celebrations are organized by trade unions (an organization of workers) movements.
How to Celebrate
By yourself, you can celebrate in multiple ways. You can buy from smaller producers and support local businesses or buy from companies that support fair trade. You can do some research on your favorite companies and maybe choose a new, different brand to see how they differ. Furthermore, you can even try to make awareness on this issue by highlight it on social media and tag it with a related hashtag for a maximum number of people to see. This might also help it be turned into an official holiday. Other than this, you can educate others regarding the importance of this day.
Tea has been extremely important even in Pakistan and a large variety can be found here. It is not just a beverage but also a way to strengthen bonds and relationships as the deepest conversations are sometimes done over cups of tea.