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 more than 35 countries, 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.
Recognizing the long history and deep cultural and economic significance of tea around the world, 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, particularly in developing countries. 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.
Combining heritage with future
The FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme to date, has designated almost 60 sites as dynamic spaces where culture, biodiversity and sustainable agricultural techniques coexist, proving to be vital to achieve food security and generate livelihoods.
China, Korea and Japan have 4 tea cultivation sites designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems by FAO. These sites that represent evolving systems of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural and agricultural landscape.
Throughout the years, the aroma of their millenary tea varieties has made its way into the hearts and minds of many tea drinkers around the world, one leaf at a time.