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International Tea Day: History, traditions, and celebrations
May 21, 2024
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An aerial drone photo taken on April 24, 2024, shows a tea garden in Gelin Village of Medog County, southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Jiang Fan)

Peking University, May 21, 2024: Every year on May 21, International Tea Day is observed, a day designated by the United Nations to promote awareness of the global cultural and economic importance of tea. This day also highlights tea's role in combating hunger and poverty, as well as its sustainable production and consumption.

The UN recognizes specific months, weeks, years, and decades with designated themes or subjects, encouraging global awareness and action on these issues through special observances. On International Tea Day, individuals and organizations have the opportunity to recognize tea's significant role in rural development, poverty reduction, and food security, especially in developing countries.

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This aerial drone photo taken on May 9, 2024, shows workers picking tea leaves in a tea garden in Zhuyang Village of Xiping Township in Anxi County, southeast China's Fujian Province. (Xinhua/Wei Peiquan)

Research proved that tea originated in China, where it might have been consumed as early as 4,000 years ago. The earliest documented use of tea dates back to the Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-771 BC), with tea becoming a popular beverage during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

With the longest history of tea cultivation, China remains a major producer, accounting for around one-third of the world's tea production. Chinese culture has a deep connection to tea, with complex customs such as tea ceremonies like "Cha Dao (literally, the way of tea or tea as a way of life)" symbolizing peace and respect. 

Tea is consumed daily in homes across the nation, and tea houses have served as social hubs for centuries. Historically, tea was a major Chinese export, influencing international trade routes, and it continues to play a significant role today.

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Event themed "Fortune Cookies and Chinese Tea Ceremony" at Peking University

At Peking University, tea-related events such as "All in a Teacup" and "Fortune Cookies and Chinese Tea Ceremony" have been organized, reflecting a commitment to educating students about various tea traditions. This aligns with tea's historical function in China as a social drink and a medium for contemplation.

Written by: Jawad Shabbir
Edited by: Dennis Meng