Agri Business

Growers bring in their finest as connoisseurs lap up speciality teas at a huge premium

Shobha Roy | Updated on: Jun 23, 2022
Pick of the lot: Estates usually produce just 1-5 kg of specially manicured teas, foregoing a bigger harvest of regular tea

Pick of the lot: Estates usually produce just 1-5 kg of specially manicured teas, foregoing a bigger harvest of regular tea | Photo Credit: nevarpp

Tea Board’s special auction for highest quality sees more estates step up to the challenge

Sample this: Pabhojan Gold Tea, a rare variety from Pabhojan Organic Tea Estate, recently bagged a record price of ₹1 lakh a kg at the Jorhat auction centre. This tea is known for its characteristic bright liquor and soothing after-taste.

Similarly, a special variety of orthodox tea from Tata-backed Amalgamated Plantation’s Borhathi garden fetched ₹35,001 a kg; and the ‘finest tippy golden flowery orange pekoe (FTGFOP1)‘ Moonlight teas from Badamtam and Castleton tea estates commanded ₹20,000 and ₹12,000 a kg, respectively, at the Kolkata auction centre.

Enthused by a strong demand from tea connoisseurs across the globe, buyers have been lapping up speciality teas at a huge premium.

To encourage the production of quality teas and highlight premium Darjeeling and Assam teas, the Tea Board of India announced a special auction for which estates had to pluck the highest quality leaves (tender two leaves and a bud) on May 21, coinciding with International Tea Day. The plucked tea should be manufactured the very next day for sale at the special auction.

Estates show up

According to industry sources, the response from estates has been steadily growing over the past three years.

“The main aim behind the initiative is to encourage gardens to grow good quality teas that can be showcased to domestic and international markets. We expect more gardens to participate,” a senior board official told BusinessLine.

The board proposes to undertake more such initiatives to boost the industry, the official added.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of estates participating in the production of such teas and its sale in auctions. The quantities are small and some get consumed in the domestic market and some exported,” Kalyansundaram, Secretary, Calcutta Tea Traders’ Association (CTTA), said.

Statement teas

Though the quantity produced and sold at such auctions is small it helps showcase the beverage to connoisseurs. It is a means to celebrate the art of tea plucking and making, said Vikram Singh Gulia, MD and CEO, APPL.

Estates usually produce just 1-5 kg of these specially manicured teas, often foregoing bigger harvests of regular tea.

“You need to pluck the tender two leaves and a bud for such quality. If allowed to grow more, it could yield five times more crop,” said Sujit Patra, Secretary, Indian Tea Association. The idea is to show the world the quality that producers are capable of if the pricing is right, he explained.

Discerning buyers

According to Madhav Sarda, tea taster and Managing Director of Golden Tips, there are hundreds of customers across the globe who are happy to buy small quantities of such unique teas.

“Production of such teas has marginally increased over the years as customers are becoming more discerning and willing to pay the price for such premium offerings,” he said.   

Golden Tips had bought Moonlight teas from Badamtam and Castleton tea estates at the recently held special auction.

Bijit Sarma, Founder, CEO, Esah Tea, which bought Pabhojan Gold Tea, says the company looks forward to seeing more sellers come with speciality tea in the near future.

Published on June 23, 2022
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