The origins of tea stretch back more than 5 000 years, but its
contributions to health, culture and socioeconomic development are still
as relevant today. Tea is currently grown in very localized areas, and
supports over 13 million people, including smallholder farmers and their
households, who depend on the tea sector for their livelihoods.
International Tea Day is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural heritage, health benefits and economic importance of tea, while working to make its production sustainable “from field to cup” ensuring its benefits for people, cultures and the environment continue for generations.
Celebrate International Tea Day with us!
The event, to be opened by FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, will focus on smallholder tea producers, reaffirming the commitment to support them and help them overcome the challenges they face.
An exhibition will be hosted in the Atrium at FAO HQ and a tea-tasting event will take place in the Flag Hall, both in collaboration with the United Nations Women’s Guild (UNWG).
The exhibition aims to educate visitors about the key role the sector plays for smallholders and rural livelihoods, and its contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. The celebration will also demonstrate the deep cultural heritage of tea as an age-old symbol of wellbeing. By engaging the UNWG, the event aims to showcase the significance of women along the tea value chain as well as to celebrate tea as a culture in societies globally.
14:00 - 15:45 hours CEST (Rome time)
Interpretation will be available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
Recognizing the long history and the cultural and economic significance of tea around the world, as well as the significant role it plays in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 May as International Tea Day, calling on FAO to lead the observance.
Tea production and processing are a main source of livelihoods for millions of families. The celebration promotes the sustainable production, consumption, and trade of tea, and offers an opportunity for actors at global, regional and national levels to ensure that the tea sector continues to play a role in reducing extreme poverty, fighting hunger and safeguarding natural resources.
Tea is an age-old symbol of wellbeing that appears in the arts, literature, music and boasts countless colours and varieties. Around the world, tea...
- Tea production and processing represent a source of livelihoods for millions of families, including millions in the least developed countries.
- The tea sector is a multi-billion dollar industry that can support economies and contribute to sustainable food systems.
- Tea export earnings help to finance food import bills, supporting the economies of major tea-producing countries.
- The tea sector contributes to socio-economic development, representing a major source of employment and income for millions of poor families worldwide.
- Tea thrives in very specific agro-ecological conditions and environments, which are often impacted by climate change.
- Smallholder tea producers need our support to strengthen their business model and environment and overcome the challenges they face.
- In order to ensure benefits for both people and the environment, the tea value chain must be efficient and sustainable at all stages, from field to cup.
Interesting facts about tea
International Tea Day 2023
Did you know?
- Tea is one of the world’s oldest beverages and is the most consumed drink in the world, after water.
- Tea is available in many varieties, which differ according to the applied oxidation and fermentation technique.
- Tea cultivation provides employment and income to millions of smallholder growers, who are supplementing or even replacing production of larger tea estates in many countries.
- While three quarters of tea produced is consumed domestically, tea is a widely traded commodity.
- Over the past decades, the global tea industry has seen rapid growth, with a rising number of consumers globally.
- Despite the increase of tea consumption in the major producing countries, per capita consumption remains low, suggesting there is still considerable growth potential in these countries.
- China, Korea and Japan have four tea cultivation sites designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems by FAO.
In many developing countries, the tea sector contributes significantly to rural development, poverty reduction and food security, representing, in several cases, a major source of income and employment for millions of poor families.
Global tea production increased from 4 to over 6 million tonnes between 2007 and 2017 (See Figure E1). However, increasing tea consumption and production is mostly due to population growth in producing countries and not to consumption growth in high-value importing markets.
This study was produced under an FAO-EBRD Cooperation project on reviewing the development potential of the tea sectors of Azerbaijan and Georgia. As a result of the joint research in the two countries carried out as part of the project, a similar separate review of the Azerbaijani tea sector was also published under the FAO Investment Centre's Knowledge for Investment (K4I) programme.
Although global tea production increased from 4.3 to 6.5 million tonnes between 2009 and 2019, this was mostly due to the population growth in producing countries and not to consumption growth in high-value importing markets (FAOSTAT, 2021)
The Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector is responsible for about 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, but can also be an important part of the solution to climate change, through adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Recognising the long history and the cultural and economic significance of tea around the world, as well as the significant role it plays in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 May as International Tea Day, calling on FAO to lead the observance.
Tea is an age-old symbol of wellbeing that appears in the arts, literature, music and boasts countless colours and varieties. Around the world, tea is our most-loved drink, after water. But tea is more than just a shared experience. To millions of farmers in developing countries, tea is the main source of income.
In the last two years our world has experienced some dramatic changes. COVID-19 has shaken the foundations of our way of life. In turbulent times one feelgood gesture has connected populations across the globe. The simple act of sharing a cup of tea. We prepare tea in many ways, but this ancient ritual stretches beyond cultures. Tea is a culture in itself.
These beverages are more than just a brew, they embody hundreds of years of knowledge that spans across generations. Tea and coffee are linked to many potential health benefits, as mounting scientific evidence has shown. To millions of farmers in the poorest parts of the world, however, tea and coffee represent a source of income, livelihoods and a ladder out of poverty.
The origins of tea stretch back more than 5 000 years, but its contributions to health, culture and socioeconomic development are still as relevant today. Tea is currently grown in very localized areas, and supports over 13 million people, including smallholder farmers and their households, who depend on the tea sector for their livelihoods.
It is part of our history and culture around the world. 4 tea sites are already recognized by FAO as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems. Sites that combine heritage with sustainability. 1 Pu’er Traditional Tea Agrosystem in China It is one the world's largest area of tea plantations and one of the origins of the tea trees.