• 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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    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.

    Episodes 1-49

    Episodes 50-96

    Episodes 97-140

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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.

    Episodes 1-49

    Episodes 50-96

    Episodes 97-137

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