• Ekaterra Rebrands as LIPTON Teas and Infusions

    Tea News for the week ending January 13

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

    Lipton writes that 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 is more inclusive of non-traditional brands in the ekaterra portfolio, such as Pukka 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.

    | The First of Seven Agriculture-Focused Satellites is Safely in Orbit

    The SpaceX Transporter safely delivered the first Agri-Focused Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) into orbit Jan. 3. The 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. The satellites, designed by Dragonfly Aerospace, scan 13 bands to generate panchromatic and multispectral imagery to 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.

    | The Specialty Tea Institute Ceases 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. STI will not accept membership applications in 2023 and will not conduct classes anytime in the near future, he said. 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.

    | PLUS Mou Dasgupta, founder of Brook37 The Atelier in Princeton, New Jersey, is pursuing her passion for tea after 25 years of trendsetting corporate leadership in the financial services industry. She developed a love for fine-quality tea while living in West Bengal, India, where she attended university in Calcutta. She says Brook37 “is proud to bring fresh thinking and an ethical and sustainable mindset to all we do,” she says. “Our unparalleled tea selection of flavors, aromas, and colors from around the world, along with exquisite packaging, help you choose a positive and aspirational lifestyle.”

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  • Easing COVID Restrictions Leads to Uncertainty in China’s Tea Industry

    Tea pluckers in China practice COVID distancing during the 2020 harvest

    Tea News for the week ending January 6

    The end of China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy is returning vitality to the travel, outbound tourism, restaurant and catering, and entertainment sectors, all of which benefit tea sales. But easing track-and-trace rules also enabled consumers to circulate, leading to a steep incline in viral infections.

    | The World’s Top Black Tea Producers Report Export Declines in 2022

    Export volume in Kenya and Sri Lanka, two of the world’s top three black tea-exporting countries, declined in 2022. Data is preliminary, and the reasons vary as weather, geopolitics, and pandemic-induced economic setbacks resulted in another lackluster year for trading tea.

    | What do We Value about tea, and How Do We Value It? Speakers at the 8th Annual day-long, in-person Global Tea Initiative Colloquium on Jan. 19 at the University of California, Davis, will discuss Tea and Value. Register free at globaltea.ucdavis.edu

    | 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. According to Thatcher, “even though slavery was abolished globally nearly a century ago, more than 28 million people are trapped in forced labor worldwide. Poverty and lack of access to education create opportunities for those who stand to benefit from the exploitation of vulnerable men, women, and children. In modern times forced labor takes the form of work with little to no pay, fear and coercion, and restricted freedom of movement.

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  • UNESCO Honors and Safeguards Tea Cultures in China, Türkiye, and Azerbaijan

    Tea pluckers harvesting raw leaf in Türkiye carry traditional baskets

    Tea News for the week ending December 2

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) annually recognizes cultural practices and traditional crafts worthy of safeguarding. On Dec. 1, UNESCO named two tea traditions to the list, citing traditional Chinese tea processing techniques that “entail knowledge, skills, and practices around tea plantation management, tea-leaf picking, and manual processing. These are passed on through families and apprenticeships, including by tea producers, farmers, and artists, as well as those who make the pastries that are typically served with tea.”

    UNESCO also inscribed the Culture of Çay (tea), “a symbol of identity, hospitality, and social interaction.” In a joint application submitted in March 2021, Azerbaijan and Türkiye described their tea culture as “an essential part of social and cultural life and an important social practice aiming to show hospitality, celebrate important moments in the lives of communities and help them to build and maintain social relationships and enjoy moments by drinking tea for social exchange and interaction.

    | Black Friday Lives Up to its Name as US shoppers set in-store and online sales records

    | Australian Study Shows Elderly Women Benefit from Tea Flavonoids

    | PLUS Tea Biz travels to Tucson, Arizona, for the grand opening of a 2200 sq. ft. combination tea shop, tearoom, warehouse, and online fulfillment center. Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea, says that stay-at-home tea drinkers experimenting with specialty teas are eager to share the experience of tea discovery face-to-face.

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  • Pricing Tea in a Slogging Economy

    Tea News for the week ending November 4

    Carman Allison, vice president of thought leadership at Nielsen IQ in Toronto, describes the unusual combination of slow growth and job gains set against rising interest rates and sharply higher inflation as a “consumer recession.

    “We are all trained to understand that you need two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction for a country to be officially in a recession. But we also know that by the time that actually happens, a lot of the economy is already in a recession,” he explains.

    | The International Tea Academy Awards its First “Leafies”
    | Sales of Herbal Infusions are Expected to Double this Decade

    | PLUS Canadian Economist Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, sees a lot of positives for the tea industry but cautioned that inflation is an economic disease that will linger. Supply chain challenges remain. He said the macro-dynamics around commodities are getting more complicated, adding, “The fall is not going to be an easy one.”

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    Seven-Minute Tea News Recap

  • Sri Lanka Tea Sector Opposes Doubling Corporate Tax Rate

    Joydeep Phukan, Principal Officer and Secretary of India’s Tea Research Association

    Tea News for the week ending October 28

    The proposed increase to a maximum of 30% from 24% of earnings is needed to qualify for a $2.9 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The only sector earning significant foreign exchange revenue is Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Production is down by 20%, but growers are getting record prices at auction. The tea sector generated $819 million during the first eight months and is on track to earn around $1.2 billion, comparable to the $1.3 billion in 2021 exports. In an open letter published Oct. 17,  the Tea Export Association “earnestly requests the government to maintain the concessionary corporate income tax rate of 14% for the tea sector for its long-term sustainability, which will ultimately bring in much higher growth dividends for the economy.”

    | Vietnamese Tea Exports Experience Slow Decline

    Vietnamese tea exports declined sharply during COVID and have yet to recover. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, tea exports are down 6.4% by volume to 54,000 metric tons through June 2022. Revenue from tea exports was $94 million, which is 1.3% lower than during the same period last year. The Ministry of Industry and Trade estimated annual revenue from tea exports averaged $173.2 million during the years 2016-2020. At that time, Vietnam accounted for 2.4% of the global value of tea exports.

    | Kenya to Expand its Orthodox Tea Capability

    Kenya’s new administration is investing millions in its tea sector to generate jobs and boost foreign exchange. Two weeks ago, President William Ruto announced that the government would construct a modern tea processing and packaging facility in Mombasa. Simultaneously the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) asked the government for Ksh800 million ($6 million) to expand production lines at 10 of its 12 orthodox tea factories. KTDA currently produces five million kilos of high-value specialty tea.

    | PLUS Joydeep Phukan, the Principal Officer and Secretary of India’s Tea Research Association, discusses a standards update to better align good practices with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Growers worldwide adhere to the Tocklai Tea Research Institute’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards. Introduced in September, the new standards will be fully implemented in January 2023.

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    Seven-Minute Tea News Recap