The next time you have a cup of tea, please think about who, not just what, goes into making that tea.

Tea is big business in Vietnam, production is increasing (it is the fifth largest tea producer in the world), exports are growing, and domestic consumption remains strong.

If you spend  several days in Vietnam’s tea-growing areas both in the fields and in the factories where the tea is dried and processed, you will be impressed by the women who work in tea. While much of Vietnam’s tea is harvested mechanically, some must still be hand-plucked, and it is the women who do this. Women “are more patient and pay better attention to details” so they are better tea pluckers than men. You will be fascinated by how quickly the women moved up and down the rows fastidiously plucking the tea leaves.

Afterwards, the women each placed a large sack of tea onto the back of their moped/scooter to be weighed. Then, they loaded the sacks onto a truck to be transported to the factory and returned to the field. Despite being in sunny, the women were cheerful, dedicated and motivated. And for most of these women, after tea plucking was finished their day was not yet completed as they had to go home and take care of their families.

If you have a chance to visit a tea household factory in harvesting season, you will see how men and women busy sorting fresh tea leaves, drying leaves and curling the leaves. During the main harvesting season, the processing of the last tea batch normally stopped between 10pm and 11pm. While the tea processing was taking place, the women prepared and served dinner for family (and the guests), and then cleaned up after the meal. The new day started literally when the roosters begin crowing around 4am.

The next time you have a cup of tea, please think about who, not just what, goes into making that tea.

Cre: The tea and coffee magazine

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