International Tea Day

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International Tea Day

Every year December 15th is celebrated as International Tea Day (ITD). ITD was started in response to the crisis in tea industry during 1998, especially during serial closure of several Estate Gardens, extremely low green leaf prices for small tea growers and continuous fall of tea prices in the international market. This has made all Small Tea Growers, Tea Garden Workers and consumers to come together and observe ITD on Dec 15 across the globe to send a message on solidarity to all stake holders in the tea value chain.  It is also an affirmation by the tea producers all over the world of their role in developing & sustaining the tea industry which serves the best health drink in every corner of the world through Tea garden Workers hard work and commitment.

Tea is one of the most popular beverages around the world. And it looks so natural to have a special day to celebrate it. By the way, here it is, International Tea Day, that every year falls on December 15.

The idea of establishment of International Tea Day existed for many years, but the first actions were made only after the World Social Forum held in Mumbai, India and Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2004-2005. The first festive events took place in Delhi in 2005 and the next year they were organized in Sri Lanka.

International Tea Day wasn’t created as a reason to enjoy an extra cup of tea. Its celebration draws public attention to the problems of tea production and the impact of the global tea trade on workers of the tea plantations, small growers and consumers. Various exhibitions dedicated to tea are organized in many countries, where ITD is celebrated. This holiday doesn’t have an official status anywhere, but the celebration became very popular in tea producing states, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malawi, Kenya, India, Uganda, Malaysia and Tanzania.R

The decision to observe ITD on December 15, 2005, was taken after deliberations amongst various international organizations and trade unions during the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India (2004) and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2005). ITD is observed in major tea producing countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India and Tanzania and also in tea consuming countries like The Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Germany.

International Tea Day.Cup with hot tea painted on a background of the world map. Vector Illustration.

In India, taking cue from the WSF decision, the Indian trade unions AITUC, AICCTU, UTUC, INTUC, BMS, CITU, HMS, NTUI and TUCC have given the call for the observance of the first ITD on December 15th, 2005.

The First ITD was held at New Delhi India in 2005 in an assembly of small growers and tea workers from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malaysia and Indonesia. The 2nd ITD was observed in Sri Lanka in 2006 in Kandy with a mass rally of tea workers. Since then, tea workers, small growers and other stakeholders in tea industry observe ITD all over the world. The International Tea Day observations and deliberations have significantly contributed towards the International Alliance and brought forth the attention of respective national governments to address issues in the tea sector.

ITD aims at

  • affirming the rights of plantation workers and small growers
  • Building awareness and responsiveness among all the concerned bodies
  • Identifying responsible policy decisions
  • Strengthening advocacy and campaigns
  • Facilitate tea consumption and a ‘just’ trade in tea

On this day trade unions, workers’ organizations and other civil society organizations have been coming together and organizing seminars, dialogues, public events and submitting memorandum/charter of demands to the governments.

Observance of ITD has contributed to the heightened sense of collectivisation among small tea growers in India and strengthened Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations in India (CISTA) as the representative body of small tea growers in India

That one cup of chai can not just keep the tiredness and exhaustion at bay, but can also transform your mood into a happy state of being. It can wake up a sleepy person and it can put to rest an anxious one. 

While a lot has been written and spoken about tea in general, here are 10 quotes that prove a cup of chai is something that doesn’t need a particular day to be celebrated. It should be cherished and celebrated each day and every day.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

“A cup of tea would restore my normality.”
― Douglas Adams

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”
― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

“Tea is the magic key to the vault where my brain is kept.”
― Frances Hardinge

“Tea … is a religion of the art of life.”
― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

“While there is tea, there is hope.”
― Arthur Wing Pinero, Sweet Lavender – A Comedy in Three Acts.

“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.”
― Jane Austen

“At Christmas, tea is compulsory. Relatives are optional.”
― Robert Godden

“Making tea is a ritual that stops the world from falling in on you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, The Creeping Shadow

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