The Mission statement of The European Speciality Tea Association (ESTA)

European Speciality Tea Association

The European Speciality Tea Association (the ESTA) is a non-profit organisation that’s run by its members. Its objective is to support and enhance the tea specialist industry through continued investment, with an emphasis on facilitating greater levels of communication and collaboration.

The market for specialty tea has experienced a significant growth in demand in recent years, as more and more tea-drinkers look for a better quality of tea. Consumers are also more aware than ever of sustainability and ethical sourcing practices, which means their demands often extend beyond what manufacturers of mass-produced tea can offer.

The European Speciality Tea Association champions all those involved in the production, creation and supply of specialist teas. Accountability in the tea industry is incredibly important and therefore The European Speciality Tea Association have put in place a system which clearly defines and labels specialist teas, categorising where they were grown and when, as well as how they were produced, and exactly how they were processed. 

There are five distinguishing features which specialists teas are categorised by:

1. How dry the tea leaves are

2. The aroma that dry leaves have

3. The physical appearance and aroma of wet tea leaves

4. Colour and clarity of the tea they produce

5. The flavour and the texture of the tea

The European Speciality Tea Association is highly supportive of eco-friendly measures, which extends to the packing of its products. They also work to ensure that all those involved in the production of specialist teas are recognised and paid respectably for their work. 

Specialist teas are enjoyed the world over by tera-drinkers who enjoy a more refined and elevated experience. Such consumers are prepared to pay a little extra to get a higher quality tea that has been ethically sourced. Specialty tea producers often prioritise obtaining teas from specific regions that are all well known for cultivating teas with specific qualities. Environmental factors themselves can indeed affect the overall flavour profile of tea, which is why it’s important for tea blenders to carefully select the right leaf from the right location when forming the perfect blend of speciality tea.  

The European Speciality Tea Association recognises the need for different production processes when developing specialty teas. Instead of the more industrialised method used for the production of mass-produced teas, specialty teas are created with a preference for transitional practices which take less of a toll on the environment. Traditional techniques include hand-plucking and hand-rolling, both methods which better preserve the quality and flavour of the tea leaves to provide a heightened tea-drinking experience. Innovation has always driven tea production, and herbs, flowers, fruits, and spices are often added to blends of specialist teas, which adds complexity to both taste and aroma, forming signature teas which are truly unique.

Socialist teas cover a wide range of tea types and the European Speciality Tea Association categorises many different black, green, white, oolong, and herbal teas as speciality teas. If you wish to establish whether or not a speciality tea carries the backing of the prestigious European Speciality Tea Association, all you need to do is take a close look at its packaging. If it carries the logo of the ESTA then you’ll be able to see detailed information about the specific gardens, regions, and elevation of the packaged tea.

The European Speciality Tea Association also places great emphasis on education and expertise in the specialist tea industry as they actively engage with producers, passing on best practices and insights which help to drive the industry forward. Health-conscious consumers are looking to specialty teas such as green tea, white tea, and herbal infusions, are known for their antioxidant properties and potential health benefits. Specialty teas also make for excellent, thoughtful gifts for tea-lovers which are often beautifully packaged and easy to wrap.

Anyone with an interest in speciality tea can learn more by engaging with the European Speciality Tea Association and explore teas from specific regions whilst finding out more about the history and heritage of those who helped to create it.