Tea is one of the world's most important crops. It is consumed as a beverage throughout the world and grown widely in countries of Asia, Africa and the Near East. It has widespread implications for the earnings and food security of farm communities, particularly small-holders in these countries.
Tea is the most popular manufactured drink consumed in the world, equaling all others – including coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol – combined. Most tea consumed outside East Asia is produced on large plantations in the hilly regions of India and Sri Lanka and is destined to be sold to large businesses. Opposite this large-scale industrial production are many small "gardens," sometimes minuscule plantations, that produce highly sought-after teas prized by gourmets. These teas are both rare and expensive and can be compared to some of the most expensive wines in this respect.*
India is the world's largest tea-drinking nation, although the per capita consumption of tea remains a modest 750 grams (26 oz) per person every year. Turkey, with 2.5 kilograms (5 lb 8 oz) of tea consumed per person per year, is the world's greatest per capita consumer.*