Agri Business

Tea Board pushes for quality check of brew from Nepal

PTI Kolkata | Updated on February 18, 2020

Amid concerns that CTC variety from Nepal was being sold as Darjeeling tea to consumers, Tea Board has asked the Commissioner of Customs, Kolkata (Land), to check the quality of brew arriving from that country at FSSAI-accredited laboratories.

According to a Tea Board official, brew from the neighbouring country cannot be banned as the treaty signed between the two countries has provisions for its import. Under the treaty, India imports tea from Nepal at zero duty, the official said.

“As the plucking season in Darjeeling has arrived, we have asked the Customs department to check if the quality of tea from Nepal conforms to FSSAI parameters,” he told PTI on Tuesday.

Arun Kumar Ray, Deputy Chairman of Tea Board, said the agency has sought help from a laboratory in Mumbai, which can differentiate between Darjeeling and Nepal teas.

“We have asked the Customs authorities to discard tea coming from Nepal if it does not comply with the FSSAI norms,” Ray said.

While Darjeeling produces around 9 million kg of orthodox variety annually, nearly an equal amount of the brew is imported from Nepal under the treaty.

Secretary-general of the Indian Tea Association (ITA) Arijit Raha said that the entire volume of tea from Nepal should be thoroughly checked at the land customs points. “Any attempt to sell Nepalese CTC variety as Darjeeling should be thwarted,” he said.

Earlier, Ray had said traceability of Darjeeling tea was a cause for concern, and the ITA has expressed doubts over the quality of tea being sold in the market. He had also suggested that the entire volume of Darjeeling tea produced be sold through auction to discover the real price and stop unhealthy practices.

In 2019, around 8 million kg of Darjeeling tea was produced, of which 4 million kg was exported.

Published on February 18, 2020

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