The Tea Biz Blog, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, will merge in early 2023 with Tea Journey Magazine to become the Tea Biz Portal.


Tea News for the week ending January 20

According to the WEF recession poll, Europe, the United States, and China are vulnerable economies.

Going into these difficult times, volume sales of packaged tea are stable. Bulk tea sold for an average of $3.10 per kilo in 2022, an increase of 14%, reflecting mainly black tea sales at auctions in Kenya, India, and Sri Lanka. Online retail tea sales continue to expand, but rising marketing costs undermine margins. Food service revenue is down as labor, and food inflation keep profits below pre-COVID levels in tea-friendly formats, especially fine dining. Independent tea shops that weathered the pandemic are closing their doors and moving online.

In contrast, franchise tea ventures like Texas-based HTeaO, with 68 ice tea drive-through stores and 93 under construction in the US, and bubble tea ventures Kung Fu Tea (350 locations) and Gong Cha (1,900 locations worldwide) are expanding with outside investment.

| Argentina Celebrates its Tea Centennial

The government of Argentina last week declared planting the first tea seeds a historical moment marking the 100th Anniversary of Argentine tea. 

A bill passed by the Argentine Congress immortalizes the three Ukrainian Hnatiuk brothers “who, when faced with the hostile climate generated by the Russian Revolution in 1910, escaped to the new continent to start from scratch.” Don Wladimiro, his brother Tikhon, an Orthodox Priest, and Emanuel Hnatiuk settled in Colonia Tres Capones in the peaceful hills of Misiones to establish the southernmost tea-producing region in the world and center of Argentine tea agriculture.

Tikhon, a missionary, obtained assamica seeds in Crimea in 1923 and presented them to his brothers, who were experienced in raising and processing fruit on an industrial scale. The four hectares they planted were processed locally and sold as W-H Tea. In 1924 seeds from China were planted, and by the 1940s, tea flourished on 300 hectares. In 1944, following a devastating earthquake, the Ministry of Agriculture bought 800 kilos of seeds to plant in the first of many government-financed projects to expand tea cultivation.

BIZ INSIGHT – More than 5,000 planters and five cooperatives today grow 2.7% of the world’s black tea on 72,000 acres (29,000 hectares) in Misiones, with an additional 2,000 hectares planted in Corrientes province. Ninety percent of this tea is exported to 30 countries. The United States is Argentina’s largest tea trading partner, purchasing 70% of the annual crop to blend into iced tea.

Download Argentina’s official founding story (Spanish)

| Toronto Tea Festival Returns as In-Person Event

Like hundreds of in-person tea events worldwide, the Toronto Tea Festival was forced into hiatus for the past two years. In 2023 the popular two-day event returns on January 28-29 to the Toronto Reference Library. 

Since 2013, everyone on Canada’s eastern seaboard who trades in tea has traveled to Toronto for Tea Festival demonstrations, samples, lectures, and exhibitions. The event, now in its 9th edition, is hosted by Tao Tea Leaf and The Tea Guild of Canada. With more than 50 exhibitors, it drew a crowd of 2,800 in 2020, making it Canada’s largest tea festival exclusively focused on tea. 

Speakers include Author Linda Gaylard and Kevin Gascoyne, a co-owner of Camellia Sinensis in Montreal. Helen Kong at Secret Teatime in Scarborough, Phil Rushworth ZhenTea, Nadia De La Vega at DAVIDsTEA, and Amy Lou Taylor, a highly regarded practitioner of Tasseomancy (tea leaf reading).

One-day passes are $16 and $25 for two-day admission. Visit https://teafestivaltoronto.com to purchase a pass.

| PLUS This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tea Biz Blog and the 100th episode of the Tea Biz Podcast. Listeners in 117 countries have downloaded 36,474 streams since 2021. The podcast is most popular in these countries in this order: The United States, India, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, France, and Ireland, with Bangladesh, Sweden, China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka making up the top 15. 

Listen to the interview.


Tea News for the week ending January 13

Ekaterra Rebrands as LIPTON Teas and Infusions

By Dan Bolton

Ekaterra tea CEO Nathalie Roos announced: “with pride and enthusiasm, our corporate name change to LIPTON Teas and Infusions.”

“This change comes together with our commitment to drive the whole tea industry upwards and grow value for all and our planet,” said Roos.

“Infusion is not a product description; it’s our mindset, it’s our modus operandi,” writes Roos. In a public statement on LinkedIn, she writes, “Success comes through people collaborating and lifting each other up in the service of common goals. We know the power of blends, and we honor the role of diversity of thinking and ideas in building excellence.”

The rebranding will strengthen the company’s position as the world’s number one tea business and affirm its approach as a consumer-centric organization. Ekaterra currently generates €2 billion in annual turnover from sales in 150 countries. The name change includes non-traditional brands in the ekaterra portfolio, such as Pukka Herbs and TAZO. The company owns 34 brands, including PG Tips, the T2 retail chain, and regional brands such as Brooke Bond Red Label and Bushell’s in Australia. 

BIZ INSIGHT – Several companies now share the branding power of Lipton, a name associated with fine tea since the 1800s. In November 2021, CVC Capital Partners agreed to pay Unilever €4.5 billion to acquire the ekaterra portfolio. Unilever retained production and distribution rights to Lipton Yellow Label in India, Nepal, and Indonesia. The Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership in North America owns the rights to Lipton’s ready-to-drink offerings.

First of Seven Ag-Focused Satellites is Safely in Orbit

The SpaceX Transporter safely delivered the first Agri-Focused Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) into orbit this month. Once in place in 2025, a constellation of seven satellites will each monitor one million square kilometers daily, covering 100% of the largest areas of farm and forestlands, about 98% of the globe’s land surface. Each satellite, designed by Dragonfly Aerospace, has 13 bands that generate panchromatic and multispectral imagery. The satellites will monitor daily crop growth, water stress, weed spread, the presence of pests, and temperature variations at ground level.

Tea growers can use the data to precisely control CO2 emissions, cut energy consumption, decrease water usage and reduce losses to pests.

Artiom Anisimov, CEO of EOS Data Analytics, said, “the launch brings new game-changing possibilities of satellite technologies to the agricultural industry. EOSDA will now work with proprietary datasets to provide even deeper and more accurate insights for its customers and partners.”

The Specialty Tea Institute (STI) has ceased operations.

According to Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the U.S.A, the decision was driven by economics and a decline in interest. The decision means that STI will not accept membership applications in 2023 and will not conduct classes anytime in the near future. Goggi writes that STI could not offer many courses over the last three years due to COVID and had experienced a dramatic drop in both membership and interested students. 

STI is the association’s educational arm, offering basic through advanced training. The institute’s Certified Tea Specialist and Certified STI Instructor credentials and STI Tea Mentors program were well respected with participation by tea professionals around the world.

Scale is important, and STI had reached unsustainable lows with dues income falling to $2,000 in 2022 and course income generating $15,000 in revenue, said Goggi. In 2015 the organization generated $33,000 in membership dues and earned $89,000 from course fees. Revenue had declined to $57,000 by 2019.

The association’s board is looking into possible next steps, including a sale, merger, or leasing of STI curricula.

STI originated from the merger of the Specialty Tea Registry and the American Premium Tea Institute in 2002. 

BIZ INSIGHT – STI developed the US’s first standardized and accredited tea education program. During the past 20 years, thousands attending tea conferences and tradeshows earned recognition for achieving level 1 and 2 tea specialist certifications. Approximately two hundred achieved level three and four credentials. Tea professionals today have a choice of several association-sponsored training programs and private academies.

Feature

Fresh Thinking for a New Era in Tea

By Dan Bolton
Brook37 founder Mou Dasgupta says the new era of tea involves not just introducing it but also explaining how you consume it. “We are saying that traditionally you drink tea from a cup, but why not break the barriers and drink tea from a champagne glass or chill the tea and drink it in a martini glass? Make other drinks using tea. Open your imagination, don’t be bound by the past. Take our old drink, modernize it, and do fun things with tea. The younger generation may find it more interesting.” Read more…

Listen to the Interview

Mou Dasgupta, founder of Brook37 The Atelier

Latest Episodes

Tea News for the week ending January 20

The world’s top economists predict a global economic weakness in 2023, according to the World Economic Forum, meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

| Argentina Celebrates its Tea Centennial
| Toronto Tea Festival Returns as In-Person Event

| PLUS This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tea Biz Blog and the 100th episode of the Tea Biz Podcast. Review headlines from the top 10 posts of 2022.

Tea News for the week ending January 13

Podcast Episode 99

This week, Nathalie Roos, CEO of ekaterra tea, announced, “with pride and enthusiasm, our corporate name change to LIPTON Teas and Infusions.”

| The First of Seven Ag-Focused Satellites is Safely in Orbit
| The Specialty Tea Institute Ceases Operations

| PLUS Fresh Thinking for a New Era in Tea
Brook37 founder Mou Dasgupta says the new era of tea involves not just introducing it but also explaining how you consume it. Take our old drink, modernize it, and do fun things with tea. The younger generation may find it more interesting.” 

Tea News for the week ending January 6

Podcast Episode 98

Millions of urban Chinese will return to their ancestral homes in rural China for the Lunar New Year, raising concerns about outbreaks and possible labor shortages in tea regions as the spring harvest begins.

The World’s Top Black Tea Producers Report Export Declines in 2022
| What do We Value about tea, and How Do We Value It? 

PLUS Grace Farms is introducing a line of ethically and sustainably sourced teas that co-founder and CEO Adam Thatcher says will give back 100% of profits to help end forced labor worldwide – forever.




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Bogdan Krinitchko

Nepal Tea Collective

Hi, I’m Nish. I grew up on an organic tea farm and founded Nepal Tea Collective in 2016. Tea is not just a beverage for me but a catalyst for social change, sustainably empowering hardworking artisans like my parents for the past 30 years. I’m on a mission to make the whole world aware of the goodness of Nepali teas and the good that comes from supporting growers in this remarkable land. If you haven’t tasted Nepali teas, you’re missing out on award-winning teas making headlines. Visit www.nepalteacollective.com to find out why and get a free sample of the extraordinary taste of the Himalayas. Or email me at nish@Nepalteacollective.com Cheers.

Nischal Banskota



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