WHO Encourages Tea Drinking for a New Generation

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA with FAO/IGG delegate Liew “CK” Choon Kong, deputy president of the Tea Trade Association of Malaysia and director of Kong Wooi Fong Tea Merchants in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1989 the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that one key to human longevity is “more tea and less smoking.” Two decades later, the United Nations once again has called upon the tea industry to focus on the health benefits of tea ― this time to attract a younger generation to drinking tea.

The appeal was made by the working group on global markets analysis and promotion, part of the Inter-Governmental Group on tea under the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO IGG) of the UN which met in Colombo last month.

“Young people are paying more attention to their health, and they are more aware of the health benefits of drinking tea. Therefore, investigation and research should be taken to meet their demand,” the group reported, following the annual meeting.

The group also called for development of new products to meet the diverse demands of youth.

The report said “efforts should be made to derive new products of tea, such as tea drinks, food, daily necessities, cosmetics, health products, crafts, and others to meet the diverse demands of mass consumption.”

One suggestion to promote tea culture calls for improving consumers’ recognition of tea around the world by hosting tea ceremonies that reveal various culture themes in both producing and consuming countries. This would help ensure that consumers learn the story of tea, it said.

Another action item in the UN report calls for seeking financial support from supporting organizations to obtain detailed market information on youth preferences. The goal is to better understand consumer behavior in major tea-consuming countries like China, India, and the U.S.

The UN intends to distribute information on the health benefits of tea, one of the few natural beverages in the world that does not contain salt, fat or any other high calorie substance. Tea contains more than 450 organic compounds, and more than 15 inorganic minerals. Most components boost health and aid in disease prevention.

“Today, people are pursuing better health and more natural foods, so there will be great space for the tea market. To promote developments in the tea industry, more investigation and research are required to be undertaken to identify consumer demands and develop the right products,” according to the report.

The report notes that in China, more and more young people are starting to drink tea. China is aging and young people are becoming the main force of social consumption. In addition, they are the primary driving force of the internet economy that is playing an increasingly important role in tea sales.

Tea is the world’s second most popular beverage after water. Production is expanding. Tea is now grown in more than 50 regions and consumed in 160 countries. Approximately three billion people drink tea, the majority of whom are aging.

Source: UN FAO Inter-Governmental Group on Tea