Preserving the History of Tea and International Tea Day

The second official International Tea Day is fast approaching and will take place on Friday 21 May. The overall aim of International Tea Day is to raise awareness of the long history and deep cultural and economic significance of tea around the world. The goal of the day is to promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and to raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty. It was instigated by the United Nations and implemented and ratified by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisations Inter-Governmental Group in 2020.

6 years ago, I was proud to be invited to be a founder member of the London Tea History Association which was established at Mercers Hall on 15 January 2015. Our aim is to record the history of the business of tea in the UK and to ensure that the history of tea in London is remembered and also to commemorate the creation, growth and history of the UK Tea Industry, by utilising plaques on famous tea buildings and implementing a tea walk in London.

The London Tea History Association has to date placed three bronze tea plaques to commemorate tea history on various buildings throughout London, at St Katharine’s Docks, the tea building at Shoreditch and Sir John Lyon House. We are still working hard to get a fourth plaque placed at Plantation Place – Covid-19 has somewhat slowed this process recently but we remain undaunted.

Between just five of our 11 Board members there is a total of 235 years combined tea experience! One board member, Mr. Denys Shortt OBE, owner of DCS Group UK, spent 22 years living on a tea estate in India and has also created the Tea History Collection in Banbury which will be formally opened on Friday 21 May 2021 to coincide with International Tea Day.

The London Tea History Association is delighted to be collaborating with The Culture Concierge who are set to launch the new ‘Blue Badge’ guided London Tea & Coffee Walk this summer.  Commemorating that very British cup of tea, the walk takes 90 minutes and will focus on the oldest parts of London, the history of tea ships and auction houses and their importance on City trade. From a simple guided walk, to a tutored tea tasting and an etiquette lesson in afternoon tea, there is something for all tea and coffee lovers and further details will be found at   Northern Tea Merchants is proud to have created a special blend of tea for The Culture Concierge, which will be given as a memento for their tour and excursion guests.

Other great events planned for International Tea Day include a 24 hour Sofa Summit from the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, a series of podcasts created by UK Tea and Infusions Association (UKTIA) (find UKTIA on Instagram and YouTube) called ‘Around the World in 80 Teas – the first few stops.

Many well-known faces from the global tea trade will be featured, along with 100s of celebrations by tea producers, tea brands and tea trade bodies the world over. If you have time on the 21st it will be well worth searching for some of these events – many of which will be streamed on YouTube. Every day is a learning day with tea, and I guarantee that everyone who watches any of these events will learn something new about their favourite hot drink!

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