Tea is a shrub, grown for a hot drink made from its leaves. Tea is appreciated both for its stimulant properties and health benefits, and as the centre of social rituals such as the Japanese tea ceremony and British teatime.
Watercolour of a tea plant showing its fruit and flowers.
Healthy living
The last decade has seen huge interest in tea's medicinal properties. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and tannins which help protect against cancer and heart disease. Caffeine extracted from tea is added to some pain-relief medicines.
Tea is the most important non-alcoholic beverage in the world. Over 3 million tons are grown annually.
Black & green Tea
For centuries it was thought that black and green teas came from different plants. In fact they come from the same species, but black tea is fermented.
Overproduction of tea has led to falling tea prices and a poor wage for workers. Fairtrade teas pay suppliers a higher price and lead to better pay for workers. Consumers are beginning to favour fairtrade products.