On International Tea Day 2021, we celebrate the people who make the tea industry what it is. We shine a light on the tea pluckers, the tea tasters and blenders, the packing workers and of course tea drinkers around the world. Ahmad Tea has been working with the Ethical Tea Partnership for over a decade and, on International Tea Day, we thought it a great opportunity to catch up with ETP Executive Director, Jenny Costelloe, who explained her organisation’s work in a guest blog.
Jenny Costelloe, ETP
International Tea Day was initiated by the United Nations last year, with the aim of recognising tea farmers and workers across the supply chain who bring us the tea leaves that go into the world’s most popular drink, after water. At ETP, this is what we do, every day: we work tirelessly to help our members address the issues in tea. However, I believe that a dedicated day to reflect on these issues is an important moment in the calendar of any tea producer, packer, retailer or consumer; the challenges are complex and widespread, requiring collaboration and investment on a huge scale if we are going to improve the lives and livelihoods of tea workers.
Globally, more than 13 million people are involved in the supply chain, and for the majority their livelihoods are almost entirely dependent upon the production of tea. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that nearly 60 percent of the world’s tea is produced by small scale farmers. Social inequalities, economic instability, and the threat of climate change are some of the biggest challenges facing these tea communities.
Economic instability for tea communities if often a result of the lower wages and incomes that workers and farmers earn and the context in which they live. This is often in the world’s poorest countries such as India, where nearly one million workers are employed within the tea supply chain.
Globally, the majority of tea workers and farmers are women. In Assam, India and Sri Lanka women make up nearly 50% of the tea workers yet, few manage to rise through the ranks to managerial positions.
Climate change poses a growing risk to tea communities as increasing temperatures, changes to rainfall, and deforestation impact tea growing and ultimately the livelihood of those working in tea.
At the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), we work with 50 members – made up of tea brands, retailers and suppliers from across the UK, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Together we address some of the long-term systemic challenges in tea. We run programmes in China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Rwanda, and Indonesia, where much of the world’s tea is produced and where millions of lives are dependent on tea; we support innovative business practices to improve outcomes for farmers and workers in tea; and, we engage with a wide network of stakeholders to inform decision-making and policy development, ensuring that tea communities are put front-and-centre of this process.
Our mission at ETP is to use the power of our partnerships to create a tea sector that is socially just and environmentally sustainable.
Our programmes across Asia and Africa have reached over 1 million people in the last five years. In the last year or so, much of our focus has been on the COVID-19 pandemic. We have prioritised prevention, protection and provision activities. As part of this work we distributed face masks, ran safety campaigns and distributed food aid, among others, and as the situation reaches crisis status in India, we are working with partners to ensure that tea communities can access the healthcare they, tragically and inevitably, will need.
Our incredible partnerships have made these achievements possible. There is still a way to go, but together we are committed to driving the change that is needed to achieve a thriving tea sector.
Our thanks go to Jenny and the ETP for their contribution on International Tea Day. Earlier Jenny joined Ahmad Tea’s Zahra Afshar for tea and a chat about the work of the ETP…
Tea Pairing with the Royal British Legion
To celebrate the launch of the Royal British Legion's Centenery Cookbook, author John Pullen joined the Ahmad Tea tasters and challenged them to pair teas…
Funding a new water programme in a region of Niger affected by climate change
At Ahmad Tea we recognise that access to clean water is a fundamental human right and as the temperature rises, the time to act is…
Introducing Galerie du Thé – our new luxury tea brand
Unveiling a new range of rare luxury artisan teas from the world's most sought after tea gardens.
Alice Kinsella’s Career By Numbers
Celebrating Alice Kinsella’s bronze at Tokyo 2020 we take a look at her career so far by numbers.
As our global brand ambassador and elite gymnast, Alice Kinsella, prepares for the biggest challenge of her career so far, we take a look some…
Alice Kinsella – How To Stay Positive
For an elite gymnast, staying positive is essential. Our brand ambassador Alice explains how she stays motivated and driven.
Alice Kinsella on Natural Benefits
Our brand ambassador and elite gymnast - Alice Kinsella took time out of her training schedule to explain why she loves the Natural Benefits.
Jan Heath – Sharing Her Love of Art, on Teabags
A different form of tea artistry - we caught up with UK artist Jan Heath whose paintings on teabags were featured by news around the…
Alice Kinsella: How To Relax
It’s always good for us to take some time out and see how we can reduce stress in our lives. We’ve asked Alice Kinsella, our…