The tea industry is a fifty billion dollar a year business whose fastest growing sector is called ‘Specialty Tea.’ ‘Specialty Tea’ must be defined to establish value and give meaning to the term.
There are no set standards for excellence in the global tea industry. Merchants, both in the past and now, have been able to get away with defining quality through marketing. This interpretive and loose value system has not benefitted producers, consumers, or small tea businesses.
The International Specialty Tea Association will strive to establish quality standards in tea making. The Specialty Tea Association will create an unbiased process for judging tea quality. This will result in the best teas setting the bar for standards of excellence, which will thereby define ‘Specialty Tea.’ The evaluating system will be easily understandable and learnable industry-wide and will be made available to the public.
Standards must be established to preserve the art of making tea and will guarantee a stabilized market whose focus and intent is on providing quality products to the consumer. The value of tea will then be determined by its production rather than how it is marketed. This will increase profits to producers and the people they employ. Standards will provide the platform on which small businesses can compete with the corporate tea companies that dominate the global market, and consumers will be able to recognize product value independent of marketing claims. Standards will cause better transparency in the supply chain, and a better educated industry.