• The Leafies Winners Revealed | Rooibos Tea Named a Top 10 Pantone Color for 2024 | India Tea Undergoes FSSAI Safety Analysis

    UK Tea Academy Announces 2023 Winners of The Leafies | Rooibos Tea Named a Top 10 Pantone Color for 2024 | FSSAI Steps Up Safety Analysis of Indian Tea Factories

    Tea News for the week ending Nov. 3
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-Minute Tea News Recap

    PLUS | Tea was first cultivated in what is now Tanzania by German colonists early in the 20th century. Farms were planted high in the Usambara Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro rising vertically from the plains. The region was known as Tanga and would later, under British rule, become Tanganyika. The UK greatly expanded tea production through the 1960s and remains a major trading partner with the Republic of Tanzania. Joining us today is Steve Anyango, an expert strategist in commodity trading and logistics with deep ties to tea. Steve is Managing Director, Nemooneh Iranian Food & Beverage Industries.

    Listen to the interview
    Steve Anyango on the characteristics of Tanzanian Tea.

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    The Leafies Judging
    The Leafies Judging

    UK Tea Academy Announces 2023 Winners of The Leafies

    By Dan Bolton

    Winners of The Leafies are celebrating around the world this week following an award ceremony at the Asia House attended by 100 guests, including Tea Biz London correspondent and PMD Tea Managing Director Dananjaya Silva.

    Awards Ceremony
    Dananjaya Silva reports on The Leafies Awards Presentation and Tasting from the Asia House in London.

    This year’s competition attracted 320 teas. Contenders were divided by type, region, and processing into 48 categories. Twenty-five of the award-winning teas were sampled after the award presentation, which included judges, winners, and beverage executives from sponsor Fortnum & Mason.

    Twelve judges representing eight nationalities were awarded 13 Gold awards. Several individuals were recognized for special awards, and 36 teas were “highly commended” in citations that praised noteworthy characteristics. 

    Japanese teas dominated with five gold awards. India won two: Glenburn for its Darjeeling Moonshine and Rujani Tippy Reserve in Assam on the Aideobarie Tea Estate. Lumbini Tea Valley won gold for Sri Lanka, and Zen Zen took home gold for its Formosa Red Oolong tea. A Chinese Ya Shi Xiang submitted by Jantle Group also won gold.

    Yame Tea Kumaen’s Gyokuro Saemidori from Fukuoka foo·koo·ow·kuh Japan was the highest-scoring tea of the competition, earning the Fortnum & Mason Best In Show award. The tea will be sold at the company’s showroom. Kazumi Nakatani traveled from Japan to brew and pour the winning tea. Zealong Tea Estate was awarded prizes for its Aged Oolong and Aromatic Oolong. Zealong also received the UK Tea Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for its pioneering tea culture 25 years ago in New Zealand. CEO Gigi Crawford served the tea.

    New this year is a category for retailers selling fine tea. Chaki Co in Uji, Kyoto, Japan, won two retail gold awards. The tea venture was founded by tea farmers who are masters of “deconstructing and reassembling” tea. Dorothy’s Teas was named Best Seller of White Tea for its Shannong Estate Silver Needles.

    View all the winners at ukteaacademy.co.uk/the-leafies

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  • Middle East Unrest Heightens Tea Logistics Concerns | Just Ice Tea Raises $14M | Wagh Bakri Executive Director Parag Desai Dies Fleeing Stray Dogs

    Middle East Unrest Heightens Tea Logistics Concerns for Transit via the Straits of Hormuz and Suez Canal | Just Ice Tea Raises $14 Million to Expand Distribution | Wagh Bakri Tea Executive Director Parag Desai, 49, Dies Fleeing Stray Dogs

    PLUS | Tea Biz traveled to Tanzania last week to explore the tropical Usambara tea-growing region. There, I met with smallholder farmers, tea makers, traders, tea sellers, members of the Tea Board of Tanzania, and a tiny cooperative of 14 families deep in the jungle who invited me to watch as they hand-rolled and wood-fired organic black tea that always sells out on “market day” in the local village. I recount my adventure beginning today with Tahira Nizari, a savvy business school graduate and humanitarian who founded Kazi Yetu in 2018. This specialty tea brand advances the role of women in Tanzania’s tea industry. 

    Tea News for the week ending Oct 27
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-minute Tea News Recap

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    Tea Sea Lanes
    Tea land sea lanes

    Middle East Unrest Heightens Tea Logistics Concerns

    By Dan Bolton

    Tea shipping and logistics executives are closely monitoring Middle East unrest as tea sales to the region declined.

    Immediate concerns involve insurance premiums and pricing risk, but if Iran-backed Hezbollah escalates the Hamas conflict, Israel will likely retaliate against Iran. The Islamic Republic’s navy (IRGCN) has increasingly harassed international vessels, with 20 incidents in the past few years, including the seizing of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (which spans Oman and Iran), a route traveled by 30% of the world’s oil and much of the world’s tea.

    Due to the violent and volatile Hamas-Israeli conflict, sales of orthodox tea at India’s Kochi Auction declined to 70% of the 2 million kilos on offer. Though Israel buys negligible quantities, exports to other destinations through the Suez Canal will be hit, according to a report in the Hindu BusinessLine.

    See: Middle East Conflict Threatens Global Growth (NYT)

    Traders who spoke to the newspaper cautioned, “Shipments to destinations through the Suez Canal are likely to be hit on account of the war.”

    They anticipate a further decline in demand and disruptions in tea procurement if the situation worsens.

    Iran is the center of attention. 

    Normally a discerning trading partner with a preference for orthodox black tea, imports to Iran spiked last year yet, “At the moment, there are signs that Iran does not have enough teas to last through the winter season,” writes one trader. 

    In an attempt to stockpile supplies, tea imports during the past fiscal year (ending March 30, 2023) rose to 90 million kilos. Payments, complicated by economic sanctions, are now past due. “So far, we have no clear import support from the government. As a result, a lot of teas consigned for Iran are stuck in Dubai and Kenya,” writes the Iran-based trader.

    Compounding the self-inflicted shortage is that domestic production declined to 20 million kilos this year.

    Iran produced about 26 million kilos last year, exporting 10,000 metric tons valued at $44.2 million, according to the Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), which valued imports at $665 million through March 30, 2023.

    Imports recovered from the pandemic to reach 35 million kilos in 2022. In the fiscal year ending March 2021, the country imported 21 million kilos valued at $201 million. India accounted for $96 million of tea imports. Sri Lanka shipped $75.8 million worth of tea to Iran, and Kenya shipped $19.2 million to round out the top three tea suppliers.

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  • Dark Tea Reduces Risk of Diabetes | Kagoshima Exports | Consumers Feel Culpable for Climate Change

    | A Daily Cup of Dark Tea Reduces the Risk of Diabetes: Researchers Demonstrate How Tea Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
    | Mintel Consulting: Consumers Feel Culpable for Climate Change
    | Kagoshima Benefits from Diverse Tea Exports

    PLUS | “We started the UC Davis Global Tea Institute Professional Tea Program at the request of the tea industry,” says GTI Founder and Director Prof. Katharine Burnett. Leaders in their fields from Finlay Beverage, Starbucks, Peet’s, ITI, Empire Tea, Mother Parkers, Ito En, and Hamburg Teehandel present the 15 two-hour weekly sessions across a wide spectrum of topics, from history and culture to science, business, and health. The program is aimed at industry members seeking to deepen their foundational knowledge of tea.

    Tea News for the week ending Oct 6
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-minute Tea News Recap

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    Researchers Demonstrate How Tea Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels

    By Dan Bolton

    Drinking dark tea, a fermented favorite in China, significantly decreases the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes regardless of weight, age, gender, high blood pressure, and family history.

    Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and Southeast University in China found that compared to never-tea drinkers, those consuming dark tea daily had a 53% lower risk for prediabetes and 47% reduced risk for type 2 diabetes.

    The paper, presented this week at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), said tea lowers the risk of diabetes with a long list of known risk factors, including fasting glucose levels, drinking alcohol, smoking, high cholesterol levels, and regular exercise.

    Associate Professor Tongzhi Wu from the University of Adelaide said, “The substantial health benefits of tea, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, have been reported in several studies over recent years, but the mechanisms underlying these benefits have been unclear.”

    “Our findings hint at the protective effects of habitual tea drinking on blood sugar management via increased glucose excretion in urine, improved insulin resistance, and thus better control of blood sugar. These benefits were most pronounced among daily dark tea drinkers,” he writes.

    A release summarizing the research explains that people with diabetes often have enhanced capacity for renal glucose reabsorption, so their kidneys retrieve more glucose, preventing it from being excreted in urine and contributing to higher blood sugar.

    “These beneficial effects on metabolic control may lie in the unique way dark tea is produced, which involves microbial fermentation, a process that may yield unique bioactive compounds (including alkaloids, free amino acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and their derivatives)

    These compounds exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, improve insulin sensitivity and the performance of beta cells in the pancreas, and change the composition of the bacteria in the gut.”

    The study included 1,923 adults (562 men and 1,361 women aged 20-80 years) living in eight provinces in China. Participants indicated the frequency and type of tea consumed. Blood and urine tests measuring glucose excretion and related favorable effects were most robust for dark tea drinkers. 

    According to Associate Professor Wu: “These findings suggest that the actions of bioactive compounds in dark tea may directly or indirectly modulate glucose excretion in the kidneys, an effect, to some extent, mimicking that of sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.

    This new anti-diabetic drug class is not only effective at preventing and treating type 2 diabetes but also has a substantial protective effect on the heart and kidneys.”

    The authors said drinking dark tea is a good blood sugar management tool, but you should consider your overall diet, too.

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  • India Abandons Bharat Tea Auction Experiment and Returns to English Auction Rules

    | Retail Sales Projections are Ho-Hum for the Holidays: Sales growth adjusted for inflation will be in the single digits, the lowest growth rate since 2018
    | UC Davis Global Tea Institute Launches a Training Program for Tea Professionals

    PLUS | More than 30,000 tea workers and supporters, mainly from the indigenous Bataga Community living in Ooty, Kothagiri, and Coonoor in the Nilgiris mountains of South India, participated in a silent hunger protest on behalf of farmers. The demonstrations ended last week, but only after the High Court took cognizance of the petitions that urgently plead the case for fixing a minimum price for green leaf. Aravinda Anantharaman reports.

    Tea News for the week ending Sept 29
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-minute Tea News Update

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    Ho-hum holiday sales projected
    Holiday sales forecasts are in the single digits, online sales estimates are more upbeat.

    Retail Sales Projections are Ho-Hum for the Holidays

    By Dan Bolton

    North American consumers are “trading down,” leading to projections of ho-hum holiday sales based on pre-season surveys. 

    “Consumers are skittish, and retailers will have to be on their toes, focused on making sure the products and the prices are right,” writes Forbes, quoting marketers who anticipate “a modest increase in sales with narrowing margins.” 

    Adjusted for inflation, Bain & Company projects real US holiday retail sales in the low single-digits, well below the 10-year average and the lowest since the financial crisis. 

    Deloitte writes that holiday sales will likely increase between 3.5% and 4.6% in 2023. According to Deloitte, E-commerce holiday sales are projected to grow between 10.3% to 12.8% compared to the 2022 season.

    Overall, Deloitte projects holiday sales will total $1.54 to $1.56 trillion from November to January. In 2022, holiday sales grew by 7.6% and totaled $1.49 trillion in the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

    Deloitte forecasts e-commerce sales will grow to between $278 billion and $284 billion this season. A survey by Bankrate reveals that 39% of holiday shoppers plan to do most of their shopping online, while 23% plan to shop in person. 

    Bankrate found that 50% of holiday shoppers will begin before Halloween, with 12% starting as early as September. November is the busiest month for shoppers, but 13% percent say they don’t shop until December, according to Bankrate. 

    More than half (54%) say they feel financially burdened this year, with 33% saying inflation will change how they shop. Another 25% expect higher prices to strain their budgets, and 13% attribute their shopping stress to concerns they will be forced to spend more than they’re comfortable spending. 

    “While September feels early to be talking about holiday shopping, it’s very smart to start thinking about it well ahead of time,” writes Bankrate. 

    BIZ INSIGHT – Sales of conventional hot tea are flat. In contrast, globally, sales of functional teas are growing at a faster 6.4% pace that is expected to accelerate through 2027. The market for herbal teas will add $885 million in sales by 2027, according to Technavio

    “Millennials and baby boomers are expected to be the major customer base for the herbal tea market as they make up the majority of the current workforce,” according to Technavio.

    Shifting consumer preference towards online sales channels positively impacts the growth of the global herbal tea market, writes Technavio. Demand for herbal teas is expected to increase as consumers become more health conscious. Online channels offer consumers a wide range of products at discounted prices,” according to Technavio.  

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  • New Report Examines the Causes of Gender-based Abuse in Tea

    | A 70-page case study explains the lapses at James Finlay Kenya that led to the BBC exposé Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea
    | Tea Price Protests in South India Continue for the Third Week
    | High Temps Lower Yields of  Türkiye’s Black Sea Tea

    PLUS | This week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee, meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, inscribed the Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in China’s Yunnan Province as a World Heritage site.

    Tea News for the week ending Sept 22
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-Minute Tea News Recap

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    New Report by Women Working Worldwide and THIRST Examines Causes of Gender-based Abuse in Tea

    By Dan Bolton

    Widespread gender-based violence and harassment concealed in commodity supply chains withers in the public spotlight, according to a consortium of gender and tea sector experts. 

    This week, the consortium, led by Women Working Worldwide and THIRST, the International Roundtable for Sustainable Tea, published a report that “describes the underlying causes and multiple perilous risk factors associated with gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) for women producing and processing tea.” 

    The report opens with a case study of James Finlay Kenya, a company featured in the BBC Panorama exposé, “Sex for Work: The True Cost of our Tea,” aired in February 2023. 

    Titled “Consent. Just consent. Then you can come to work.” (a direct quote from the exposé),” the 70-page report scrutinizes the challenges within the tea sector, pinpointing how GBVH enablers manifest specifically within the tea sector. 

    An infographic developed by THIRST and WWW with tea sustainability expert Michael Pennant-Jones illustrates 15 “risk points” along the supply chain. Smallholders, for example, risk abuse due to invisibility and lack of coverage by labor laws. There is a power imbalance at weigh stations where clerks or supervisors determine daily payments. In the factory, women risk abuse associated with allocating tasks, shifts, and working hours. On plantations, women face domestic violence and abuse risks in allocating housing and security issues. 

    In a press release, the authors explain their roles in supporting James Finlay in formulating and assessing gender policies, so they are ideally placed to explore why they ultimately failed to protect women on these tea estates.

    “The document delves into James Finlay’s journey in establishing these policies and the supplementary measures taken to integrate women’s protection into their operations,” reads the release. 

    “A central issue highlighted is the persistently low wages for female tea workers, resulting in malnutrition, indebtedness, and the adoption of precarious survival strategies, such as transactional sex. Gender-based pay disparities exacerbate women’s vulnerability, with many relying on piece-rated plucking to bolster their earnings, even if they reside on the estate. Mechanization of harvesting further exacerbates the problem by rendering numerous women tea pluckers redundant, particularly in East Africa.

    Furthermore, women in the tea sector frequently shoulder sole responsibility for their families, managing both unpaid domestic care work and paid employment. This dual burden often confines them to abusive work environments. The report is available to download at no charge at www.THIRST.international or www.women-ww.org

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