The 21st April ins National Tea Day. We Brits love tea; it’s hardly surprising we have taken to celebrating the nation’s favourite brew with a dedicated day. Most national awareness days are about spreading information and raising funds for worthwhile causes. National Tea Day is more of a celebration and a way of encouraging people to appreciate the cuppa.
Essential Tea Statistics
Tea leaves come from a plant called the Camelia Sinensis. Would you believe that the major forms of tea (black, green, white and oolong) all come from the same plant? They are simply treated and processed in different ways or choose leaves from different areas of the shrub.
We believe that the humble teabag – the major way most of us make a brew – is a British invention. It is actually American and a completely accidental one at that. One producer handed out samples to potential customers in small bags. This confused the tasters who thought the bag was a paper infuser. Somebody then realised what a good idea a teabag was and patented it.
Although it has never been verified, it is believed that tea drinking was invented by Shen Nung, a Chinese Emperor. Several leaves fell off a tea plant next to a bowl of hot water and infused. He then drank it to see what it was like. He liked it so much he began picking leaves to make more.
Tea was a major commodity for the British Empire but Britain was late into the trade. For the first century or so, there were no teashops; tea was sold in coffee shops since around the time of Charles II. The “Merry Monarch” as he was so called wasn’t very merry when it came to tea – he tried to restrict its sale.
About National Tea Day
Tea is a popular national drink and National Tea Day is a great celebration of this important brew. For the most part, the organisers want people to come together and drink tea. They would also like it if people changed from their usual blend to try something new and get your family and friends in on the occasion.
Tea is known to bring people together. Many arguments have been settled over a pot of tea. This idea is so powerful in British culture that many charities use it to push their cause. Time To Talk, one of the UK’s largest mental health charities, provides a pack which includes a poster, car sticker and a teabag. MacMillan encourages people to hold coffee mornings but that doesn’t mean tea is off the menu.
Tea in the Developing World
We all know the importance of buying commodities at a fair price helps the developing world for things like coffee, sugar and chocolate. Tea is just as important for developing countries from eastern Africa right through the Asian subcontinent. While most receive a fair wage, in some areas, tea farmers are paid less than what would be considered a normal price. This is to keep costs down for the consumer in the developed world.
This National Tea Day, why not consider making an ethical choice? Why not choose to switch your brand to one that ensures producers get a good price? Most of our leading brands are Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified. You can make a further ethical choice by buying from a small farmer. These smallholdings (usually 1.25 ha) cannot compete on price with the large plantations but that doesn’t mean the quality or taste is lower. Just as with coffee, it’s become trendy to favour the small business and small producer and help people get on in life.