An estimated 3 billion cups of tea are consumed everyday across the world. Recognizing the benefits of tea, tea production has been spread across the globe in more than 35 countries with tropical and subtropical climate. It is primarily produced in Asia and Africa, with China, Kenya, Sri Lanka, India and Poland accounting for around 68% of global exports. Black tea continues to dominate a number of international markets. Black tea and green tea segments remain a major feature of the global tea scene. On the other side, there is the highly diversified world of the green teas, which are grown and consumed by the traditional origin tea-producing countries, with China leading, followed by Vietnam, Japan and Korea who have been growing tea for centuries as their peoples’ own heritage cups. Pakistan, USA, Russian Federation, UK and Saudi Arabia are the top five importers of tea in the world in 2020, which together account for 33% of the total imports.
India is by far the largest market for Nepali tea both CTC and orthodox tea. Besides India, the key international markets for export of Nepali orthodox tea are the EU, Russia, USA, Japan and China. Major markets in EU are Germany and France. Germany is the top export market in EU both quantity and value wise, but Nepalese exporters get better price in France as compared to Germany. Netherlands is another potential market for tea exports in EU and around 94% of the Dutch consumers prefer tea bag while German preference is fine tea leaves from Nepal. Nepal exports mainly specialty tea to China at a premium price.
According to legend, tea is one of the older beverages in the world discovered in 2700 BC in China. Around the third century CE, tea became a daily drink and its cultivation and processing began. Before that it was used as a medicinal beverage. Today, tea is the most widely and commonly consumed beverage in the world. It is estimated that 3 billion cups of tea are consumed everyday across the world. In 2021 world consumption of tea amounted to 6.4 million tons. Consumption of black tea is projected to be increased by 2.0 percent annually over the next decade (2021-2030) FAO
Originated from China, consumption and production of tea has been spread across the Globe. Consumption of tea is firstly growing in major tea producing countries like China and India, exerting negative impact on exportable surplus. This creates, on the other hand, opportunity for other countries to expand their production and exports.
Tea is produced mainly in around 35 countries of Asia and Africa with tropical and subtropical climate. In 2021, the annual production of tea in the world is about 6.5 million ton (www.atlasbig.com/en-ic/countries-by-tea). Further production of black tea is projected to increase by 2.1 percent annually during the decade of 2021-30, while annual average increase of green tea production is projected to be 6.3 percent during the same period.
International trading of tea is also significant. In 2020 tea was the world's 374th most traded product with a total trade of $7.7 billion. Trade in tea represents 0.046 percent of total world trade (https//oec.world>profile>tea). Sri Lanka, Kenya, India, China, UAE, Russian Federation, Pakistan, UK, USA, Iran, Germany, Japan, Poland, Morocco, France are the major tea trading countries. In 2021, total 1.8 billion ton tea was exported amounting to $9.5 billion. In medium term export of black and green tea is projected to be increased by 1.4 percent and 4.0 percent respectively.
Tea is a labor intensive industry. Hundreds of thousands of people are engaged in this sector directly and indirectly. Female workers are more than male workers. Tea is produced mostly in low income countries and mostly by small holders of land. Small holders produce more than 60 percent of total tea production. Thus tea plays important role not only in economic growth but also in social development like female empowerment, poverty reduction and rural development.