International Tea Day Date in the current year: May 21, 2024

International Tea Day International Tea Day is a United Nations observance celebrated annually on May 21. It was inaugurated by the General Assembly and essentially replaced the unofficial observance of the same name, which used to be celebrated on December 15 in tea producing countries.

Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub native to East Asia. It is believed to have originated in China during the Shang dynasty. Tea was introduced to Europe by the Dutch East India Company, and so its global expansion began. Eventually, tea became the most widely consumed drink in the world, after water.

Tea is valued its health benefits (for example, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties); in addition, it has a cultural significance in many societies. Depending on the method of processing, tea is generally divided into six main types: green tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong, black tea, and post-fermented (dark) tea.

The main difference between the types of tea is their level of oxidation. The more oxidized the tea, the higher the water temperature should be when steeping. For example, green tea is steeped in water around 80 to 85 °C (176 to 185 °F), while black tea and post-fermented tea (pu’er) require boiling water for infusion (100 °C or 212 °F).

Since tea grows mainly in tropical and subtropical climates, it is mostly cultivated in East Asia, parts of Africa, and South America. As of 2017, the largest producers of tea were China (40% of global production), India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Other tea producers include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Nepal, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Millions of families in developing and least developed countries owe their livelihood and subsistence to tea. Some of the poorest countries rely on the tea industry as a main source of income and export revenues; due to being a labor-intensive sector, it is the most important provider of jobs for people living in economically disadvantaged and remote areas of the East Asian region. As one of the major cash crops, tea can play a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries.

Due to all this, the production and processing of tea contributes to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, such as the eradication of extreme poverty, the fight against hunger, the empowerment of women, and the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. Taking this into account, the UN General Assembly designated May 21 as International Tea Day.

The key goal of International Tea Day is to raise public awareness of the importance of tea for sustainable livelihoods and rural development, as well as the challenges that the tea industry has to face, such as climate change. The observance also aims to popularize tea drinking around the world in order to expand demand and increase per capita consumption.

The observance of International Tea Day is promoted and facilitated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with other relevant organizations and stakeholders.

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