History leads us to believe that tea was discovered by accident in the year 2737bc when some leaves from a tea bush fell into a cup of boiling hot water Emperor Shen Nung was drinking from. Since then it has now become one of the most popular drinks around the world, with its health benefits being discovered and listened to by all avid tea drinkers. During the last decade alone it has reached an all-time record high of tea consumption.
But some smaller farmers are starting to notice a problem with production and demand around the world. Climate change such as drought and floods are having a big impact, this in turn is affecting costs and livelihoods.
Deforestation is having a global impact and farmers in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malawi are replacing natural forest in favour of the money spinning tea plant. This is also creating other related problems such as job security, decent housing and healthcare for the tea workers. These new plantations are having a draining effect on soil erosion and water pollution from fertilisers. These once wild plants are now being cultivated and protected in a very modern way.
Fair trade tea in these and other countries are trying to ensure a stable economy so these smaller farmers can make a decent living. These stabilised prices given to tea traders are covered by a certificate to ensure money is returned back into their communities by keeping it above the market price.
In Vietnam for instance, they are working hard to keep up with demand and the new flavours that everyone is searching for. We have all heard how tea is good for us but the taste is important too. Lotus leaf tea is a speciality product currently only available from Vietnam. This is creating a specific demand for this particular tea that no one else can deliver. The lotus leaves are put in with the fresh collected green tea leaves and left for a day to infuse and acquire the scent.
Also these green teas are traditionally very potent and are still almost pure. This tea is also very bitter if it is not brewed correctly. To make the best green tea, the water needs to be hot, not boiling, only 70 degrees and the bag can also be used three to four times before the benefits are lessened. This will make the beautiful green tea with lotus flower a much more palatable sweeter taste. Jasmine is also added to these fresh green tea leaves and in Vietnam it is a popular chaser to coffee. The tea being poured into the same cup as having just had a coffee and left to chill!