Coronavirus Experience. Changing Work Environment in Canada, Indonesia & Sri Lanka

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

Shabnam Weber. Canada National TMC Coordinator. President of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada

In Canada we are in effective shutdown. All businesses outside of essential services are now closed and we are practicing social distancing. The hospitality industry, restaurants and bars may operate with delivery only but this I’m afraid doesn’t help tea sales in food service. On the flip side, the current trends show that along with the dramatic increase in grocery store sales, tea sales have gone up as well. That is a combination of people working from home and I hope also an element of people believing that tea makes you feel comfort in troubling times.

Anil Cooke. TMC International Judge. CEO of Asia Siyaka Commodities PLC

This year, the main problem for the tea sector of Sri Lanka was its climate. Very dry and hot weather has reduced production by 50%. If Covid restrictions will add to this, it will be even worse. We feel that our positions regarding tea prices are rather strong, so they are likely to remain the same or increase. This may be a problem for some of our customers, such as Iran and Russia due to political and economical reasons, but not for all Ceylon tea importers.

For the first time in the country’s history, Sri Lanka has launched an electronic platform for tea auction trading. The first e-auction was held on April 4 and it was a huge success, we sold million kilograms. Short supply, lack of product in the value chain, improved quality (the dry weather during the season brought out some rare quality teas from gardens in the high mountainous areas) and high consumption in importing countries pushed prices up sharply — average price of the auction #12 was SLRs 664 (about USD 3,50) which is SLRs 74 higher than the previous price. Traders and brokers responded very quickly to the new digital platform and speed of transactions improved as the sale went on.

Othniel Giovanni. Tea Masters Cup Indonesia 2019 Tea Preparation & Tea Pairing Winner

As I also teach tea tasting and tea brewing in several cafes, we have put all classes on hold now — this pandemic really puts all of the tea rooms and cafes in a very tight spot.

However, I still keep in touch with my students and they all say that due to staying at home their consumption of tea increases by a lot.

Not too long ago, Indonesian Tea and Cinchona Research Institute did a research on the relationship of black tea and Covid-19. According to their data, oxidised tea has the ability to slow down the work of the virus and even help in the healing process. It also helps to support the immune system to prevent the virus infection; so, last week, I decided to send several kilos of orthodox Indonesian black tea to some hospitals in Jakarta as some of the doctors are willing to try it for the medical staff. People from the research institute told me that they are going to give black teas for charity too, in a limited amount, for the nearby local hospitals.