International Tea Day 2021: Date, history, significance of chai day in India
International Tea Day 2021: Confused about why there are two dates to celebrate Tea Day? Read on to know the date, history and significance of chai celebration or International Tea Day in India
Using tea plants brought from China, the first tea estates in India were established in Assam and the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region. After water, tea is the world’s most consumed drink and India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China.
As per the United Nations, there is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago. The story goes that Chinese Emperor Shen Nung first tasted the beverage when he and his soldiers were busy sheltering under a tree and some windblown tea leaves fell into a pot of boiling water which then infused into it and resulted into today's most consumed drink.
First discovered in China in 2737 BC, tea went on to become a staple within Asian culture where it was a symbolic part of religious rituals before it turned into a drink and a medicinal cure. To compete with China’s tea production monopoly, Britishers first introduced the tea crop commercially in India in 1824 and ever since then, it is grown in bulk across Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Assam with 900,000 tonnes of tea reportedly produced in the country.
The first International Tea Day was celebrated in India's capital city, New Delhi, in 2005 and the celebrations were later followed by other tea growing countries - Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda and Tanzania. Ten years later, the Indian government proposed in 2015 to expand the observance of International Tea Day through the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea which leads multilateral efforts to support the world tea economy and has been instrumental in proclamation of the International Tea Day
The idea was carried forward during a meeting in Italy's Milan in the same year when the proposal was endorsed by the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems. In December 2019, re-emphasizing the call from the Intergovernmental Group on Tea to direct greater efforts towards expanding demand, particularly in tea-producing countries, where per capita consumption is relatively low and supporting efforts to address the declining per capita consumption in traditional importing countries, the United Nations' General Assembly decided to designate 21 May as International Tea Day.
According to the UN, “The Day will promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty.”
The organisation asserts, “Tea production and processing constitutes a main source of livelihoods for millions of families in developing countries and is the main means of subsistence for millions of poor families, who live in a number of least developed countries.
The tea industry is a main source of income and export revenues for some of the poorest countries and, as a labour-intensive sector, provides jobs, especially in remote and economically disadvantaged areas. Tea can play a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries, being one of the most important cash crops.
Tea consumption can bring health benefits and wellness due to the beverage's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and weight loss effects. It also has cultural significance in many societies.”