Coronavirus Experience. Changing Work Environment in USA, Vietnam & Czech Republic

We continue a series of posts in which Tea Masters from around the world share their experience of work in the pandemic.

Hong Anh Nguyen. TMC Vietnam National Coordinator. VITAS (Vietnam Tea Association) Secretary General. Hanoi, Vietnam

The situation with the virus in Vietnam is generally good, thanks to serious and strict measure taken by the Government to cope up with nCovid-19 since January 2020. But as for the Vietnamese tea industry, since it is largely oriented towards foreign markets, the disruption in logistics caused by the pandemic has hit it very hard. Vietnamese tea exports have decreased, especially to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, European Union countries and the United States. Trade with our key tea exporters, China and Taiwan, has been virtually frozen. We expect exports to resume, but they will no longer this year. For example, we sold about 30 thousand tons of tea annually to China, and for the first three months of this year we sold only 500 tons. Foreign trade problems are also exacerbated by the volatile exchange rate.

Purchase prices for fresh tea leaf have decreased by 15%. With such a price drop the work on the plantations becomes unprofitable for some farmers — and we expect a 15% reduction in production. That said, the stop of trade does not cancel the expenses for maintenance of tea plantations themselves. For many tea producers, credit repayments will be a problem.

At the same time, with curfew and quarantine Vietnamese tea farmers have more time to care for the quality of tea leaves and producers have more choice to buy good leaf.

In the current situation, domestic consumption of tea has increased, retail and online sales of tea have increased too. We, in VITAS, are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation, actively promoting tea inside the country as a healthy drink and developing a package of proposals for the government to support the tea industry, for example, through tax exemption or reductions.

Jiří Boháč. Head of Czech Teatenders (professional tea section of the Czech Bartenders Association). TMC Czech Republic National Coordinator. Prague, Czech Republic

The whole HoReCa sector is closed now. Only home consumption of tea has survived. Online stores are feeling good. It’s a big problem for me, because my main tea business is in catering, I don’t have a store. I’m thinking of starting projects for the community, first of all online education for my students. Anyway, I will need a new project.

But for tea in general, with its atmosphere and health philosophy, now is a good time.

Adrienne Etkin Nascimento. Admari tea project, Director. TMC USA Tea Mixology 2019 Winner. Miami, USA

As a tea person, I try to take a fluid approach to all matters of life. Things are ever-changing around us, and it is up to us to seek balance in the uncertainty.

This new way of life gives us in the tea community an opportunity to get creative in our manner of sharing tea and tea education.

I was about to open a new small private tea space in Miami called Chaguan. It is a place where we will offer tea tastings, meditations & tea classes as well as produce video content for Tea Mixology.

As our commitment is to our community, we are pivoting our model to reflect a virtual tea house. We will be offering online tea consultations, and other learning opportunities. Our clients can opt for curbside pickup, home delivery or shipping through the postal service.

We will work through this with creative solutions and I look forward to sharing tea in real life when we come out on the other side.