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World’s leading tea producing nations

China

The country is the world’s largest producer of tea and last year, it produced 1,000,130 tonnes. Yearly, it exports around $100 million (Sh10 billion) worth of tea.

The focus is on the production of superior quality green, yellow and white tea. A lot of land is allocated towards the cultivation of tea. Accordingly, as the production of tea in China grew over the years, so did the exports. Approximately 80 per cent of the green tea exported in the world, is from China. It was in China where tea began its story.

One of the oldest regions where tea has been known to be cultivated is the Yunnan district. Anhui and Fujian districts are two other very important tea growing regions. In 2009, tea was grown on 1.86 million hectares in China, the largest amount of any country in the world.

The country also produced the most tea that year, harvesting 1.35 million tonnes. More than 80 million people work in the tea industry as farmers, workers or sales people.

India

Tea, or more popularly known as “Chai”, is an integral part of the Indian culture as it is also the staple beverage in the country.

Last year, India produced 900,094 tonnes of tea. Interestingly, India is also the world’s largest consumer of black tea with the domestic market consuming 911 million kg of tea during 2013/14 period.

India is ranked fourth in terms of tea exports, which reached 232.92 million kg during 2015/16 and were valued at $686.67 million (Sh68.67 billion). A lot of the tea that is produced in the country is utilised for domestic consumption while only a part of it is kept for export purposes.

Tea farming. Photo/Courtesy

The most famous tea growing regions are Assam and Darjeelin.

Fifty-five per cent of tea is produced in Assam from its 800 major and 42,000 minor tea estates spreading over 300,000 hectares of land.

The country has around 563.98,000 hectares of area under tea production.

According to estimates, tea industry is the country’s second largest employer and employs over 3.5 million people across some 1,686 estates and 157,504 small holdings, most of them women.

Kenya

Almost all of the tea that is grown in Kenya is black tea and most of it is exported with very little left for domestic consumption. Last year, the country produced 303,308 tonnes of tea.

The main tea species grown in the country are the Aswan variety commonly grown in Sri Lanka and India, and the China variety. The leading consumers of Kenyan tea are countries that make up the European Union such as Britain, France, Germany and Netherlands.

Another major destination is the Middle East in countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Currently, the country is the biggest exporter of black tea globally with a projected output of 412,000 tonnes last year. The country has more than 110,000 hectares of land under tea.

Sri Lanka

Tea is a huge component of the country’s economy and an immense source of livelihood. Last year, 295,830 tonnes of tea was produced.

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange, and accounts for two per cent of its gross domestic product (GD).

The country’s tea production rose by five per cent to 307 million kilos last year from 292.5 million kilos produced in 2016 with the export earnings rising $1.5 billion (Sh15 billion).

Over one million people are employed because of tea. A lot of the tea that is produced here is exported and there are a lot of countries that get most of their tea from the country.

Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Syria and Turkey, who are one of the leading producers of tea, import a good portion of tea from Sri Lanka. It is a relatively small island and most of the tea is grown in two regions: Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.

Turkey

The country is the largest consumer of tea per capita, consuming nearly seven kilos of tea per person, making its tea market one of the most dynamic and growing markets in the world.

Last year, it produced 174,932 tonnes of tea. In 2016, it produced 205,500 tonnes of tea (6.4 per cent of the world’s total tea production), which made it one of the largest tea markets in the world, with 120,000 tonnes being consumed in locally, and the rest being exported.

Tea is grown mostly in Rize Province on the Black Sea coast. Although the country is one of the top tea producing countries, the volume of export is unexpectedly low because domestic consumption is high and the cost of production is also quite high compared to other main tea producing countries.

Indonesia

Last year, the country produced 157,388 tonnes of tea. It is a country where once, tea was the most important crop. However, due to growth of the more lucrative palm oil business, land devoted to tea plantations has taken a hit. Despite that, the country is still one of the leading producers of tea in the world.

Half of what is produced is exported, while the other half, is left for domestic consumption. Most of the tea produced in the country is black tea, while only a proportion of it constitutes green tea.

Indonesia’s domestic tea market is not that big considering national per capita tea consumption stood at an average of 0.32 kilogramme of tea per person per year only in 2016.

Vietnam

The country produced 116,780 tonnes of tea last year. Most of the tea that is produced is exported and only a fraction of it is retained for domestic consumption.

Just like China and Japan, the country primarily produces green tea. Pakistan, Taiwan and Russia were the biggest importers of the country’s tea, accounting for 51.5 per cent of total tea export turnover last year.

It is also the fifth biggest tea exporter with 124,000 hectares under tea farming and over 500 facilities which produces more than 500,000 tonnes of dried tea per year.

The country exports tea products to 110 countries and territories worldwide, with the Vietnamese tea brand names registered for protection in 70 countries and regions.

Japan

The country produced 88,900 tonnes of tea last year. Shizuka is the largest tea producing state as nearly 40 per cent of the tea that is produced in the country comes from this area. Following, not so far behind, is the Kagoshima region which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the tea produced in the country.

Apart from these two regions, Fukuoka, Kyushu and Miyazaki are other important tea producing states. Out of all the tea that is produced in the country, only a very small fraction of it is exported, owing to its large demand in the country and most of the tea that is produced is green tea.

Iran

The domestic tea production has registered a 73 per cent increase so far the year, starting March 21, 2017), compared with corresponding period of last year, leading to a 12 per cent decline in imports. Tea farmers’ incomes have grown substantially by 234 per cent during the period.

Tea production grew by 60 per cent in 2016 [compared with the year before], marking a record high in the last seven years and the upward trend is expected continue in the coming years.

About 110,000 tonnes of dried tea, worth between $550 million (Sh 55 billion) and $ 600 million (Sh60 billion) (based on global prices and if it was all imported), are consumed in Iran annually. Close to 100,000 Iranian households earn their living, directly or indirectly, through tea production.

Argentina

The country produced 69,924 tonnes last year. United States, UK and a couple of other European countries is where most of the tea is exported to, where the tea is primarily used for blending purposes. The country annually accounts for 90 per cent of the tea grown in South America.

Tea production from all nine countries in South America totals about two per cent of the global harvest of five billion kilos. The country exports 75 per cent of its tea, making it the eighth largest tea exporting country in 2015 with four per cent of global volume.

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