Happy International Tea Day! How could we NOT celebrate this day with it being the second half of our name? After what we thought was just another fun holiday, we learned that it was so much more than just drinking your favorite tea on this day.
There is a huge significance to this day that traces back to New Delhi, India. The first International Tea Day was celebrated in New Delhi and then Sri Lanka joined in the celebration in 2006. In 2015, the global expansion of International Tea Day took place, when the Indian government proposed the idea to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In effect, the United Nations combined tea days in several countries into one day in 2019. Because of this combination, the Intergovernmental Group on Tea moved to observe this day on May 21.
The idea behind International Tea Day is to create awareness about the demand of this global drink, the second most consumed beverage after water in the world. To celebrate, communities and governing bodies organize talks and events that educate about the growth and numerous challenges that the tea industry is facing in terms of growth of farmers, and other problems like little pay, no medical care, and lack of clean water on the farm, among others.
We deliberately chose Rishi Tea as our tea provider for the cafe as ethical trading is very important to us to combat the exploitation of the farmers who bring us this incredible drink. Rishi buyers travel to origin to meet with farmers, taste the fresh crop and work together in the fields. By cutting out the middlemen they can leave 100% of the price paid for crops on the table of the growers who worked to bring that product to us. The high quality teas and innovative blends they create are the result of these authentic, trusting partnerships built up over years of relationship building directly with the farmers.
Here are some of our favorite teas from Rishi and their stories:
- Iron Goddess of Mercy: Also known as Tie Guanyin, Iron Goddess of Mercy is hand-crafted twice each year, in spring and winter, by a fourth generation artisan oolong tea maker in Mingjian Village. It was said to have been discovered by an elder farmer, Wei, who was gifted the tea tree in honor of his dedication to his village temple.
- Ruby Oolong: This oolong is a special type produced in the Doi Mae Salong mountainous region in northern Thailand. This tea is deeply oxidized and slowly baked to bring out layers of cacao, raisins, and black cherry. The soil in northern Thailand is soft, providing a concentration of nutrients not found in other oolong tea origins.
- Teahouse Matcha: A crowd favorite, this matcha is made from the first springtime harvest of tencha, savored for its umami sweetness, creamy taste and enlivening energy. The traditional cultivation of tencha requires shading the tea garden for 3-4 weeks prior to harvest. This elevates chlorophyll and enhances stimulating amino acids responsible for matcha's unique bounty of energy.
- Earl Grey: The most widely enjoyed black tea blend in the world. It dates back to the 19th century tea trade when Charles Grey was presented with a gift of Taitaicha, tea scented with citrus blossoms, during his travels in Canton. His namesake tea became wildly popular when the tea salons of Europe infused black teas with the essence of the bergamot citrus fruit that grows in Reggio Di' Calabria, Italy.
For people in India and China, tea is not just a drink, but a lifestyle. With International Tea Day, we hope to spread the awareness of not only the demand for this popular beverage, but also the growth and challenges the industry faces every day. Much of the world’s tea is grown in countries facing deep-rooted, complex issues. By acknowledging these issues and doing a little research to support tea companies that are part of the solution, we can look towards a world where your morning cup is that much tastier knowing every person along the supply chain is respected.