International Tea Day was founded Dec. 15, 2005, in New Delhi, India, to foster awareness of tea workers, their contributions and their conditions.
Several trade unions and international organizations convened at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India, in 2004 and in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2005 and decided to establish International Tea Day. They also implemented the Declaration on the Rights of Tea Workers and Small Growers, which sets standards for women on tea plantations, wages, social security, employment security, labor rights, workers’ international interests, tea small growers, occupational safety and health.
International Tea Day is now observed in major tea growing nations worldwide, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.
“On this day trade unions, workers’ organizations and other civil society organizations have been coming together and organizing seminars, dialogues, public events and submitting memorandum/charter of demands to the governments,” reported the International Business Times. ”Observance of ITD has contributed to the heightened sense of collectivisation among small tea growers in India and strengthened the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations as the representative body of small tea growers in India.”
The day is also meant to celebrate tea culture and bring recognition to the significance of tea as a major export crop for the tea producing countries.
The day sheds light on the following issues that tea workers deal with regularly.
- Workers in closed tea gardens want protection of housing rights.
- Tea workers want their wages increased.
- Improved sanitation and clean, potable water on tea plantations are priorities.
- Medical care for tea workers in rural areas is lacking.
- Women constitute more than 50 percent of the workforce on tea plantations and often do not have access to education.
Tea retailers can use this day to simultaneously raise public awareness and help those in need by engaging customers.
6 Ways to Mark International Tea Day in Your Store or Teahouse
- Create a display promoting a charity that supports educating girls who work in tea gardens. Some that do are: The Learning Tea, Save the Children India and Kindernothilfe.
- Donate a percentage of Dec. 15 sales to the National Health Mission of India’s mobile medical units that provide medical care to tea garden workers. Market this initiative throughout the day and let customers know they are supporting a good cause with their purchases.
- Give a teabag to each customer with a fact about tea gardens attached to it, such as: “Did you know that tea workers in Darjeeling earn $2 per day?”
- Create an in-store sign that shows the journey a tea leaf makes from seed to cup.
- Highlight special tea tastings in honor of International Tea Day.
- Create a display that promotes fair trade teas such as The Republic of Tea, Numi, Partners Tea Co., Arbor Teas, Bigelow’s Organic Ceylon Tea, Rishi, etc.