12 Countries that Export the Most Tea in the World
In this piece, we will take a look at the twelve countries that export the most tea in the world. For more countries, head on over to 5 Countries that Export the Most Tea in the World.
Tea is one of the most popular and oldest beverages in the world. It traces its roots back to more than two thousand years in China, to the second century BC emperors of the Hang dynasty, with some records also dating it back to the 10th century BC. Naturally, Chinese mythology is full of references to tea, with one of the more interesting tales ascribing its origin to Damo Bodhidharma's fallen eyelids.
Modern day tea consumption has come a long way since then. Tea is said to be the second most popular beverage in the world, coming second only to water. Statistics compiled by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) share that world black tea consumption increased by 3.5% over the past decade and stood at a whopping 6.4 million tonnes in 2021. India was the world's largest tea consumer, as it drank almost a sixth of the global output, or 1.05 million tonnes in 2020. In second place was China, which consumed close to 400,000 tonnes. For production alone, China was the world's largest producer of green tea, having churned out almost half of the world's supply by producing 3.1 million tonnes in 2021. India was the world's largest producer of black tea in 2020, having produced a little over one million tonnes of the beverage. Looking at the future, the FAO believes that global black tea production will grow by 2.1%, with China leading the charge. Green tea production, on the other hand, will grow much faster, at an estimated 6.3%. Once again, China will play a crucial role here, with the Asian giant expected to nearly double its production by 2030.
In terms of market value, the global tea market was worth $49.7 billion in 2022 according to a research report from Expert Market Research. The research firm believes that the industry is being driven by the trends for healthy beverages and ready to drink beverages. Additionally, Expert Market Research's compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the tea market sits at 6.2% between 2023 and 2028, with an estimated value of $71 billion by the end of the forecast period.
Like other industries, tea production, despite being one of the oldest fields in human history, is also making use of advanced technologies. One such area is modifying the chemical composition of the tea leaves to create new flavors and aromas. Oftentimes, tea is produced in regions with low human development and technological progress, which then opens up the scope for improving manufacturing performance through the application of technology. This application has yielded positive results. For instance, the computerization of the tea collection process at buying centers in Kenya led to a reduction in operating costs. Another example of technology aiding tea companies, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, is a partnership between Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and tea factories in Sri Lanka.
When the pandemic disrupted in person tea auctions, a Microsoft partner teamed up with the Sri Lanka Tea Board to create an online auction platform. This platform is powered by Microsoft's Azure Cloud Computing division, and in 2021, it allowed Sri Lankan tea companies to sell a whopping 278 million kilograms of tea to generate $1.2 billion in foreign exchange earnings. Over the long term, the e-Auction platform aims to be able to sell 5 lots per minute, for an auction time of one day. Finally, any discussion of the tea industry would be incomplete without a mention of China - the world's largest tea producer as highlighted above. Chinese tea production has evolved over time, and from simply using the water wheel for grinding, it has evolved to large scale processing plants that utilize electrification, serialization, automation, and machinery. Currently, Chinese tea companies use cameras to monitor their tea fields, weather stations to understand the environment, solar panels to charge blue light arrays that are turned on at night to scare away insects, and infrared for quality control and impurity reduction.
As far as the global tea industry goes, some of the current and former major players are Tata Consumer Products Limited (NSE:TATACONSUM.NS), DILMAH CEYLON TEA COMPANY PLC (CSE:CTEAN0000.CM), and Barry’s Tea.
Pixabay / Public Domain
We used data from the World Trade Organization and the United Nations to determine which countries export the most tea. By the way, the number one country that consumes the most tea per person isn't among the 12 biggest tea exporting countries.
12 Countries that Export the Most Tea in the World
12. Republic of China
Tea Exports in 2021: $113 million
The Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, is an island region on the South China sea. It is a disputed territory, which claims independence from China but is yet to be recognized as a nation in global geopolitics. Taiwan exported $113 million of tea in 2021, equaling 8,969 tons. One of Taiwan's major tea companies is the Taiwan Tea Corporation (TPE:2913.TW). The firm was set up in 1899 and it grows tea on its own organic tea farms, with the firm claiming that it does not use any artificial processes or products for tea production.
11. Russian Federation
Tea Exports in 2021: $115 million
The Russian Federation, or Russia, is Europe's largest country and a global power in geopolitics. A little known fact about Russia is that tea is a central part of its culture, despite the beverage being traditionally associated with China. Tea made its way to Russia from China as well, and Russian tea is distinct for its smoky flavor attributed to the caravan smoke fires lit up by the traders who transported it to the country in the old days. Some Russian tea companies are the SAZHINSKIY CONFECTIONARY FACTORY, MOSCOW TEA FACTORY LLC, and ORIMI TRADE LLC.
10. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Tea Exports in 2021: $135 million
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or simply the U.K., is a prosperous European country that is credited to have popularized tea in the Western world. Tea is considered to be the national drink of Britain, and tea in Britain and Ireland is typically served blended with milk. Green tea was first introduced in the country in the 1600s, with its medicinal properties touted during marketing. British firm Unilever PLC (NYSE:UL) was one of the largest tea companies in the world, before it sold its tea business. Other popular British tea brands and companies are Nambarrie Tea Co. Ltd, Associated British Foods plc (LON:ABF.L), and Ahmad Tea Ltd.
Tea Exports in 2021: $189 million
Japan is an Asian island country that is one of the most prosperous and technologically advanced countries in the world. Tea dates back to the 8th century in the country, and it was originally a drink consumed by the religious class. There are several different kinds of teas consumed in Japan. The most popular Japanese tea is Matcha, which is produced in the dark for a distinct color and flavor. Other types are Sencha, Sobacha, and Genmaicha. Some of Japan's largest tea companies are Ito En, Ltd. (TYO:2593.T), Harada Tea Processing Co., Ltd., and Fukujuen CO.,LTD.
8. Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Tea Exports in 2021: $204 million
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country. Several different types of teas are present in the country, including green tea, jasmine tea, bud tea, artichoke tea, kuding tea, and lotus tea. Out of these, lotus tea is a Vietnamese specialty and is produced by placing green tea leaves inside the lotus flower for a distinct aroma. Some large Vietnamese tea companies are Lam Dong Tea Joint Stock Company and Vietnam National Tea Corporation (Vinatea). This variety of different teas also makes Vietnam one of the largest tea exporters on the planet.
7. Federal Republic of Germany
Tea Exports in 2021: $242 million
The Federal Republic of Germany is Europe's largest economy and a global power in geopolitics. Tea is one of the more popular beverages in the country, alongside coffee. Tea is a popular Christmas gift in Germany, and some popular types in the country are black tea (Schwarztee), fruit tea (Fruchttee), and Camomile (Kamillentee). Among Germany's top tea companies are J. Bünting Teehandelshaus GmbH & Comp., Martin Bauer GmbH & Co. KG, and Teekanne GmbH & Co. KG.
6. Republic of Poland
Tea Exports in 2021: $262 million
The Republic of Poland is a Central European country with a high GDP per capita of $42,466. Poles drink at least half a kilogram of tea per capita annually, and there are several different kinds of beverage present in the country. Tea was initially popularized in Poland for its health benefits. As opposed to the British who serve their tea with milk, the most popular tea in the country is the Herbata, which is typically served with lemon and sugar. Several global tea brands such as Twinings and Teekane have their factories in Poland, and the country is also one of the world's largest tea exporters.
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Disclosure: None. 12 Countries that Export the Most Tea in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.