Shamol Ghoshal


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A story about making alcohol from TEA

Assam Tea

A Long Article About Tea

The Tea worker
Darjeeling tea faces an uncertain future
Why India works
What is happening in the Commercial world of Tea
An integrated approach for monitoring tea plantations
News about Tea
Bicrampore Tea Estate
Tea Culture in America
Darjeeling Winter Pictures
Barak Valley in Assam
Solar Power in Assam
Rohini Tea Estate
Mornai Tea Estate
Comments from McLeod Russel Chief
Interesting explanations about Tea today

Howrah Bridge

Shamol in Naga Land
G I's
in Calcutta
Soccer Team Dooars DBITA 1977-78
Argentinians visit Darjeeling
Stock prices of Tea Industry today
Goa in Bygone days
Saif's Page
Why India works
Likedin Comments on Tea
J Thomas History

Old Photos of Indian History

Walks Back to Things Past

Sikkim State --Orchids


Green Tea

A Bridge blasted

Going back 100 years  
Pens Or should we call them computers



October 2, 2016

 Assam Tea

 What comes to your mind when we think of the Tea Industry in Assam?  For some it might be a symbol of exploitation or oppression of the poor unfortunate labourer’s, for others it might be meaningful employment. For the political parties it might be a source of vote bank, and for the government it might be just a source of revenue.  For some bureaucrats it might be rent paying subscribers of license permits, and for few others it might have helped curb extremism by creating jobs. For most of us in Assam it is a very large industry but for India Inc, it is too tiny to even consider investing in it.

 Incorrect perceptions can be very dangerous hence it has become necessary that we understand this industry better. In this article I shall try to articulate an image that I have seen from close quarters and address each of these perceptions. Every industry has some essential components and in this case they are Small Tea Growers, Bought Leaf Tea Factories, Proprietorship Tea Estates, Corporate Sector Tea Gardens, Tea Labours, various government regulators, Auction system, Bulk quantity buyers and Assam Tea. Some of these components are deemed more important than others, but the most important component - Assam Tea has been totally neglected for many years. Policy makers and opinion makers will have to make sure each component is heard and understood otherwise Assam Tea will disappear from this earth

 Let us try to understand the worth of Tea Industry. Assam produced 618 million Kg tea during the year 2013 &  approximately 60 percent of that  (i.e.371 million Kg) is produced by tea estates with their own green leaf. Remaining 40 percent is either produced by Bought Leaf Tea Factories or Estate factories with purchased green leaf. It is known that the price of a tea garden is usually the quantity of tea produced multiplied by market rate of per Kg Made tea. At present the market rate is Rs 500 per Kg made tea so if we multiply 371 million Kg by the market rate we get Rs 18600 crore, which is the approximate worth of all the tea estates of Assam. I will refrain from evaluating the worth of the unorganized sector (small tea growers) as it is very difficult to do so because many of them do not have title deeds. In a state that does not have any industry, this figure Rs 18600 crore- sounds like a big number but it is tiny when we compare with other industries. For example one individual N. R. Narayanamurthy, founder of Infosys, is worth Rs 10000 crore or Nandal Nilekani is worth Rs 7000 crore. In other words Reliance can buy all the Tea Estates of Assam, if they accumulate their profit after tax for three quarters.   Recently I was told at a seminar on BCPL (Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer limited) at Dibrugarh that more than Rs 12000 crore has been spent on the project. BCPL has employed 400 permanent employee so far and might employ another 300. The IT sector in Karnataka employs 1 million professionals and clocks approximately Rs 1.5 lakh crore. On the other hand, the Tea Industry employs 5 lakh permanent labours, 5 lakh seasonal labours and another 10 lakh directly or indirectly depends on it. And the retail market in India is just Rs 15000 crore. All these facts and figures points out that even if the entire amount of Rs 18600 crore is spent on the 20 lakh people that resides on Tea Estates there is a limit on how much welfare is possible in this tiny low skilled labour intensive  industry. 

 So the perception that all the Tea planters and companies are out there to exploit or oppress the poor tea labours is incorrect. The reality is that many of them want to do a lot but were unable to do so because of the limited turnover. I am not saying that tea planters should not do welfare or work towards upliftment of the workers just because they cannot do so under the present circumstances. The real issue is that we have focused on the input (i.e. labour welfare) instead of the output (ie. Assam tea). We have to shift gears and put all our energy on the output - Assam Tea. If Assam Tea sells well then the industry will earn enough for everything including social obligations and R & D. We have failed in doing so because we have put the cart before the wheel.

 Let us now try to understand how teas are sold. Approximately 48-50 percent of the total teas produced in Assam are sold through Tea Auction at Guwahati or Kolkata the remaining teas are sold through private mode or exported directly. The average price of tea, during the year 2013, sold through Guwahati Auction center was Rs 132.56 and Rs 157.5 through Kolkata Auction. And the combined average price of tea at all the north Indian auction centres was Rs 139.8. By selling tea at such prices the tea industry is simply unable to meet all the social obligations enforced  by law. 

 Many people ask this question, why is the average price of Assam tea so low? Some will say that we do not know how to market, others will say that the quality has detoriated due to climate change or we debased everything. I think they are only partially correct but the real reason is that our teas are sold as a commodity.  Anyone can buy this commodity, blend good quality teas with bad quality teas, put it in a pouch and sell it in the retail market for the consumers. If we look at the packets available in the market then we will see that there are three segments: The so called premium segment such as Taj Mahal or Tata Tea Gold in the range of Rs 400- 430 per Kg, The Medium Segment such as red Label or Tata Tea Premium in the range of Rs 330- 360 per Kg, The popular economy segment such as Agni in the range of Rs 190- 210 per Kg. The premium segment packet contains a small percentage of good quality teas and the rest are medium quality or poor quality tea used as fillers with 10% market share. The medium segement contains even smaller percentage good quality teas and the rest are medium quality teas or fillers with 42 % market share. The popular economy segment contains only medium quality teas and poor quality fillers with 48% market share. Because of this system the general consumers never get to taste the pure unblended premium quality Assam Tea.

 Since the price of the packet is fixed, the packeteers will buy the tea at a set average price so that they can keep a profit margin for themselves. The result is that if the top 40 gardens sell at an average price of Rs 200 then the bottom 300 gardens will sell teas at an average price of Rs 120 or below so that the average price remains Rs 138. The average price of Rs 138 in the auction will have to be maintained so that packets can be sold at Rs 190-210 with a margin. Today the top 30 gardens are rewarded with an average of Rs 200 and above for producing quality. Now let us, for a moment, imagine that 800 gardens suddenly start producing high quality teas. Will all the 800 gardens receive an average price of Rs 200 and above? The answer is no, because the retailers has to sell it at the fixed price and will maintain the auction average at Rs 138. It has become a zero sum game.

 The following 2 things happened because of this system.

 - (a) Despite producing more than 50% of the total tea produced in India we do not have a single brand from Assam that has any significant market share in India. Snacks are produced in Rajasthan and they have Bikaji and Haldiram. Milk is produced in Gujarat and they have Amul. What have we created?

 - (b) Assam Tea became a cheap road side beverage and can be found only in cheap regular hotels. We have seen Sri Lankan tea such as Dilmah in our domestic flights or Basilur in expensive retail outlets. Expensive Chinese teas or Twinnings are found in cafes at Five Star Hotels. Worst part is that the packaging materials used for packaging Darjeeling tea or Chinese tea is more expensive than the Assam tea itself.  

 My biggest worry is that if we keep selling Assam Tea as a cheap commodity we might find that the fate of Assam Tea would be similar to that of Bata slippers.  There was a time when everyone used to wear Bata slippers but with increase in purchasing power after the reforms of 1991, people abandoned Bata and moved on to other expensive brands. 

 I am not advocating that we should just move out of the present system and totally decommoditize Assam Tea. That is not even possible, we need all kinds of tea for the various segments of the market and the present system is decent enough for the mass quantity commodity producers. But this system does not reward the high quality producers and gets lost to blending. I have seen Chinese teas selling in the range of Rs 8,000 to Rs 60,000 per Kg in retail. Just compare that with our retail price range of Rs 190 to Rs 430. I need to mention here that the China produces mainly Green tea, Srilanka produces Orthodox tea while Kenya & India produces CTC tea. Unfortunately we never had a visionary business leader in Tea Industry to move forward in the right direction nor did we ever respect the enterprising spirit. 

 Up until 1961 we were major orthodox producer but within a decade by 1971 we became a CTC producer for various reasons. We will have to accept it that the Chinese marketed their brand of green tea much better than we marketed our CTC tea. The sad part is that the Chinese or Darjeeling tea is sold for flavor as expensive products, but our tea is sold as cheap commodity despite having flavour as well as unique reinvigorating property that those teas do not have.

 Now given this situation how do we decommoditize Assam tea? It has to be done both at individual level as well as at the industry level. Some individuals are doing it but sometimes it is very difficult to do it at individual level. Orange from Bhutan is sold at a specific price range while that of Pune is sold at another range.  If someone tries to sell Bhutan orange at the price of Pune orange it is difficult to convince no matter how good that particular orange is. But of course this can be done with innovation and value addition. 

 Professor Mithileswar Jha of IIM, Bangalore once suggested, at a seminar in Dibrugarh organized by Bharatia Chah Parishad, that there is huge potential for the small tea growers to add value and explore the high end market. He mentioned that when the farmers of Gujarat felt that they were not getting fair price for their produce they formed a society and went for decentralized production and centralized marketing. What it means is that the individual farmers sell their milk to the society, which they own, and receive the price based on fat content. But the society is completely managed by disciplined professionals. The society markets the final product under the brand name Amul. Amul has been a great success story of independent India. Something similar can be created but it is necessary that professionals run it not the growers themselves or government bureaucrats.  Occasionally many people suggest Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) model for small tea growers  but it needs to be known that even KTDA is a corporate run by professionals. Small Tea Growers set up factories and lease out to KTDA. KTDA operates the factories and sell the teas in auctions. KTDA has been fairly successful but Amul model is better because it completely eliminated middleman and created a household brand name. I am optimistic and hope to see something similar in my lifetime.

 But unfortunately such visionary things has not happened so far instead we see STG’s protesting for fair price infront of Tea Board offices or Administration. Sometimes their demands are fair and sometimes not but the issue is that there is no political solution for an economic problem. One has to accept that when supply increases demand decreases and vice versa. Even though there is no political solution for an economic problem such protests result in the enactment of laws such as TMCO Act 2003 and hands out discretionary power in the hands of bureaucrats. Discretionary power in the hands of bureaucrats usually results in distortion of the market or corruption and strangulation of the industry.

 I think that a part of the STG leadership tries to project itself as a 100000 strong vote bank and hence use it to demand good price rather than add value to their produce or create a market for it. Our media and politicians would prefer to project them as poor and helpless farmers at the hands of evil capitalist and hence need government patronage. But any STG who happens to be an enterprising person and adds value to his produce or increases his plantation area beyond 10 hectare suddenly becomes the enemy of the society and government. The government says he cannot be registered because the Tea Act, 1953 forbids it and the society claims he is the exploiter of the poor. As long asyou behave like a poor helpless exploited farmer you are loved by our society, media and government. So naturally many of them try to behave like a votebank. 

 We need to look at the sugar industry. In UP, politics took precedence over pragmatism and the government increased the sugarcane price to appease lakhs of farmers but the price of sugar did not increase hence the mills closed down and are unable to pay the farmers Rs 2500 crore now.  Both farmers and Banks that provided working capital, are claiming rights over the stock in the mills. The Allahabad court claims that farmers have the first right over those stocks on humanitarian ground and the banks are threatening not to finance the sugar industry again. We need to respect the market force along with our needs otherwise such a situation is bound to occur. 

 It is understood that the tea planters failed to take the industry to the next level, but to demonise them as oppressors or exploiters at every instance would be wrong and over stretching. We need to look why are we in such a situation? Was there a business friendly environment whereby tea planters could innovate or do better?

 Tea industry is the second most regulated industry after the sugar industry. This industry is regulated directly or indirectly by Tea Board, Central Excise, Inspector of Factories, Weights and Meteorology, FSSAI, Employment Exchange, Sales Tax, Agriculture Income Tax, Income Tax, Labour department, Revenue Department, Provident Fund, Pollution Control Board etc. A Tea manufacturer has to renew 5 licenses every single year and has to deal with atleast 8 to 10 inspectors. Inspector Raj and License permit raj has prevailed for the last six decades. A manufacturers has to get sales tax clearance every month in order to sell his goods.  Usually the struggle to get sales tax clearance begins on the 1st of every month but the superintendent is usually busy or the system is down or absence of electricity in the office and so after repeated attempts one ends up getting the clearance on the 7th or 8th of the month but the process restarts on the 1st of the next month.  So the sold teas gets stuck in the state border or in some godown resulting in delay of payments by the buyers and essentially the manufacturer has to pay higher interest to the financing bank. Usually manufacturers prefer to upgrade the machineries during the off season but sometimes it takes up to three months to obtain a road permit to buy a new machine. I wonder who would prefer setting up an industry in Assam. On top of that once in a while the tea planters receive extortion calls from the extremists. There were instances when it took people between 2 years to 4 years to acquire manufacturing licenses from the Tea Board. 

 Such regulations allowed Indian bureaucrats to formulate policies with little or no technical expertise and armies of peons to open doors for them or carry lunch boxes for them. They get to decide what is best for localized business. Tea planters end up receiving whimsical directive such as sudden ban of jute bags on auction sale but would continue to allow poor quality PP bags. Once they decided that there were more number of BLF than required so went for blanket ban on setting up BLF for a couple of years but allowed existing factories to expand manufacturing capacity. It just destroyed its own purpose.

 Imagine the bureaucrats deciding  for Steve Jobbs what equipment’s to buy and from whom or decided where should he sell his products. I think he would not succeed in creating iPhone or Macbook. Wealth creation requires certain degree of freedom.

 A manufacturer is required by law to submit many monthly returns as well as annual returns to various departments. Some of these returns even require the manufacturers to submit the manufacturing cost and intrusive business details. All the labour laws such as Plantation Labour Act or Industrial Disputes Act were enacted to protect the labour from exploitation or oppression with provisions to prosecute and imprison the industrialists for violation of these laws. None of these laws were linked to productivity

 Now even after the existence of these laws and army of inspectors to implement them for the last sixty years it is felt that the workers are not well off in the year 2014. If so then we need to find answer for the following three questions

 (1) Did the army of inspectors fail to implement those laws? If so should they be held accountable and fined or imprisoned?

 (2) Should the Tea Planters be imprisoned for failing to implement all the laws?

 (3) Are these laws faulty? 

 I believe that these regulations and laws neither achieved growth nor welfare of the workers. After sixty years we find that the export percentage has remained stagnant for decades, Assam tea became a cheap beverage, lost international market share and became a tiny industry. It is very unfortunate that the Tea Industry cannot imagine recruiting talents from reputed institutions such as the IIM’s. This industry is not even in competition with other growing sectors. These laws always focussed on the wrong end of the stick. With growth comes prosperity and prosperity makes welfare possible. Industrialist across the manufacturing sector complain that these laws made it impossible to fire lazy workers. These laws kept industrialists busy negotiating with bureaucrats while their counterparts in others nations are busy forging relationships with whole sellers and retailers.

 We need to examine why the IT sector or any high skilled labour intensive and high capital intensive industries such as petroleum refining are exempted from such lawssince 1991. Many of the brightest youth of the country are joining those sectors with dignity and are commanding competitive pay packages. All these are happening without those socialist protective laws. 

 Policy makers need to clearly understand that such laws might win elections but without growth everything including poverty alleviation will remain a pipe dream.

 I would like to specially mention that the Tea Act, 1953 should be amended because it does not allow anybody to plant tea without prior permission from the Tea Board. Imagine the implementation of this law. All the unemployed youth of Assam that took tea cultivation as a profession and changed the rural economy of upper Assam would be behind bars. Most of these acts were enacted with a colonial hangover mindset. We need to reexamine some of these ideas.

 If we take a look at the tea gardens of Assam Tea Corporation, owned by the government of Assam we find that the wrokers are worse off than those of company gardens or proprietorship gardens. Most of them are almost dead, making losses and selling green leaf instead of manufacturing. We need to examine why? I think there are two reasons why most public sector businesses fail. (1) Unaccountability for incompetence (2) Expenses without income is a sure shot medicine for bankruptcy. If we look at a budget prepared by our bureaucrats and policy makers we find that they first figure out the need based expenses then worry about income but in a business one has to first figure out the possible income then plan the expenses accordingly.

 Now let us look at some of the recent developments. Up until the last parliamentary election only one political party had monopoly over the tea labour votebank but now another party ate away a percentage of that vote bank. Both party are competing to win their vote shares. My worry is that both parties might try to appease their unions by setting up unrealistic dreams. Hope good sense will prevail and try to first understand what this tiny industry is capable of and what needs to be done so that the industry is capable of creating wealth and poverty alleviation. The ideological left that has opposed any hint of free enterprise has already created a perception that the tea planters are ripping off the workers. If this continues and the workers are instigated further then we will see many assault on the Managers and some tea planters will be burned alive in the coming year. It is worth mentioning that one of the largest player Hindustan Unilever already sold their tea planatations and manufacturing business few years ago, Tata Tea already spinned off their tea manufacturing business into a new independent company called Amalgamated Plantations. They figured out that it is easier to make profit by buying tea and then retailing it to the end consumers. Hope every one cooperates so that the remaining players survive and plan for better days. I find it strange that many in the media and the Left that preach exploitation will buy a saree for Rs 8000 but will not buy a Kg of tea for Rs 300.  As a tea planter I admit that tea planters made mistake by not investing on infrastructure for the workers atleast during the bilateral trade days and there are a few black sheep’s but most of the companies would be very proud the day we are able to pay highest wages not only in the nation but among all the tea producing nations.

 But for that to happen we need to reform all the stringent laws and government has to become a facilitator not a regulator. We simply need a better business environment to create wealth and jobs legally. The promotion of the bureaucrats that regulate industries need to be performance based. In China the bureaucrats are given targets for growth. Also we tea planters need to totally change our attitude and stop asking for sops from the government. Usually tax is collected from everyone but only a few receive subsidies and ultimately breeds corruption. I dream of the day when tea industry is free from all the subsidies as well as strangulating regulations. 

 People need to also understand what bandh does to this industry. One Assam bandh is more than enough to destroy the quality of Assam tea. Usually the best tea gardens cover 18% of the area for plucking per day in order to maintain the required cycle. Now when that happens even if labours work over time and covers 2% extra it still takes another 9 days to recover. The quality of tea goes down each consecutive days and price goes down by Rs 20 to 30 per Kg for those 9 days. Ultimately everyone in the industry as well as the government bears that loss.

 Moving forward we need to look at what the tea producers within India and outside India are doing. Tea producers in south India have done better than us in reducing the cost of manufacturing by using technology. It is easy for them to acquire technology because Coimbatore, a technology hub, is right  next to the tea producing region on the other hand we have to atleast go to Kolkata or Gujarat. But South India produces inferior quality teas because of the scarcity of labour. The plucking roundays is twice that of us and employ less labour per square metre. Their tea is mostly used as fillers in packets. They pay higher wages than us but do not provide ration to the labours. They get crop throughout the year and prune once in four years. This year most of the south indian teas are selling below the cost of production and may not remain viable in the long run. 

 Journalist Sumit Mitra once wrote that the Communist who dominated the Bengali mindspace for a very long time were successful in injecting “protest” firmly into his reflex system. That has spread into the tea gardens there. There were multiple unions in each tea gardens and influenced management decisions. After 34 years of communist rule and then Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy and during the last three years alone 26 jute mills and 28 tea gardens closed down. This Close down forced the workers onto the brink and are dying of malnutrition and starvation. Initially the owners were blamed and now the government is blamed. So far we are better off and we ought to stop moving towards that direction. 

 Kenya produces approximately 8-9% and Srilanka produces approximately 7 -8% of the total tea in the world. They both are a very small economy and do not have a domestic market to consume that hence export more than 90% of their teas. These two countries compete with each other for market shares. Business Guru Gurcharan Das says that there are only three ways to sell a product: superior cost, superior product and superior service. It will always be difficult to compete with them when it comes to cost but we can have better innovative product with better service. 

 In China most of the tea producers are small tea growers yet what they have achieved is simply remarkable. The way they marketed green tea is amazing, now people feel that Green tea means health and vice versa, just as Coca cola manufacturers made people believe in the idea that Coca Cola means cold drink and vice versa. Even though China produce more than 1761 million Kg they export only 321 million Kg because they created a very strong domestic market. In fact they created an amazing culture of tea. Whenever Chinese visit their relatives or friends they take tea with them as expensive gifts instead of sweets. They celebrate tea ceremony where people sit together and sip variety of teas. Just the sheer variety of teas they sell is overwhelming, infact, I saw more than eighty varieties of tea in a tea fair. And the best part is that they somehow steam the tea and then compress it to preserve the teas for years. Infact some of their preserved teas get better with age because of some kind of fermentation. Every tea producing region in China sells their own flavour in wonderful packages. Their packaging industry is way ahead of us. And the best part is that they parallely developed several industries along with tea. They manufacture variety of tea accessories such as tea pots, tea cups, tea trays, tea furniture made of glass, clay, metal, bamboo, wood or ceramic. They export those tea accessories all across the world. Imagine the amount of wealth they created. China is a strange country ruled by a communist party with capitalist policies but the result is there for all of us to see. Now if we compare Assam tea industry with that of China we ought to realize that wecreated nothing new after the British left. There was never any vision to create parallel industries here. Even after existing for more than two hundred years India consumes only 990 million Kgs of tea per year hence the annual per capita consumption is about 800 grams which translates into 400 cups/year or 1.1 cups per day. The fact that the Tea Act, 1953 made sure unaccountable bureaucrats of India gets to decide who produces tea and how much is not a healthy sign. If we market it properly and produce quality products we should be able to increase the annual per capita consumption to 1600 grams or 2.2 cups per day. At least we should dream about it and hope someday our industry would be worth 20 times what it is today.

 The fact that this 200 year old industry set up by the British is not in a good shape and we could not set up any significant industry in Assam, speaks volumes about our attitude towards entrepreneurship. We have  got to preserve this industry and set up new industries or else the following 3 things will happen (1) Social Unrest and creation of a  fertile breeding ground for extremists (2) Talented and skilled youth will keep migrating (3) Unskilled youth will keep manning the restaurants and shopping malls of Indian cities.

 Finally I would like to conclude by saying that Businesses need to remember the words of Adam Smith who said ”No society can be surely flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable”.  And the policy makers and opinion makers need to remember that economic development is about raising the productivity of people. The more developed a nation, the higher is its per capita GDP. With higher GDP upliftment of the society and welfare is a reality.

Policies cannot remain need based without linking to productivity.


September 19, 2016

New Delhi, Sept. 16: Indian government scientists who set out to help inferior teas find a market have concocted an unusual brew: tea-wine, a drink that combines the features of tea with the flavours of alcohol.

But bureaucratic bottlenecks in the pursuit of manufacturing alcoholic drinks in India or uncertainty about the market may allow a tea company in Mozambique to procure the tea-wine technology and sell the drink in Africa before domestic sales in India.

The scientists at the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory in Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), will next week meet representatives of a Mozambique tea company that wants to acquire the technology to sell the drink in Africa.

The tea-wine from the IHBT contains catechins, the natural anti-oxidants found in teas, and seven to 12 per cent alcohol generated through yeast-triggered fermentation of local fruits, IHBT director Sanjay Kumar said. Several varieties of the tea-wine may be produced, depending on the fruits used in the process.

"This is primarily an attempt to add value to otherwise un-remunerative low-grade teas," Kumar said. The idea emerged at a time when plantations in Himachal's Kangra region faced labour shortages and delays in plucking of tea shoots can affect the quality of the leaves.

Tea is a labour-intensive crop and the quality of tea depends critically on when the shoots are plucked. Delays of just two or three days in plucking produces less succulent overgrown tea shoots that can severely affect the processing of black tea, lowering tea quality, and fetching poor market prices.

"Some plantation owners in Kangra wanted to sell their land and give up," said Ashu Gulati, a senior plant biologist at the IHBT who led the tea-wine project. "We know that grapes are fermented for wine, so we wondered why we couldn't combine tea with fruits and berries with other health properties."

Gulati and her colleagues who initiated the project about five years ago developed the tea-wine concoctions in their laboratory, tested them to determine that they were free of microorganisms or other contaminants, and offered them to visitors to the laboratory.

"People who tasted the drink liked it," said a senior scientist at the IHBT. The scientists even bottled their experimental produce and labelled it "Kargil Sepoy" after members of the armed forces who had tasted the drink delivered favourable comments.

The scientist said private food processing companies in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have expressed interest acquiring the technology from IHBT, but appear to be stuck in the process of obtaining the licenses for manufacture and sale of drinks containing alcohol.


September 4, 2016

We have to thank Shamol Ghosal for sending this article

A long article about Tea published in a newspaper- 

            for those only who have the patience to go through

                                 CHAI CHAI 

From a” Chai ki thadi “to Tea Parlours, the variety of Tea that caters to human palate is mindboggling.  In a small earthen mug it satiates the daily wage earner as much as it satisfies the tea connoisseur in an ornate bone china cup. The shelves in a  Tea shop show a variety of tea - branded or loose , Lipton Tea, Tata Tea , Assam CTC , Darjeeling Orthodox ,Oolong, English breakfast, Earl Grey, “Danadar “Masala chai, Organic tea, Green Tea, White Tea and many more to choose from. 

      Just a few years back tea was losing its ground as the younger generation had taken to other beverages but of late it is back, though in variety of innovated forms.  The number of Tea shops and Tea cafes that have mushroomed around Jaipur itself in last two years stand witness that Tea has been and will be intrinsic part of our lives.  Despite such popularity the customer who holds 'the cup that cheers' does not pause to consider the extraordinary journey of its content.

      Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, although over 70 percent of its tea is consumed within India itself. Tea was consumed as a medicinal drink even about 5000 years ago by the Chinese, but it is indeed strange that there are several versions on the origin of Tea in India. It is now generally acknowledged that Major Robert Bruce in 1823 reported to the East India Company that the Tea Plant was to be found growing wild in the jungles of North East Assam. He had been shown the tea plant by tribal “Singhpo” Chiefs. Later Robert told his younger brother, Charles Alexander Bruce, when the latter was also in the region, commanding HM gunboat Diana.  It is also recorded that as early as 1778 the botanist Sir Joseph Banks had reported  to East India Company the possibility that the tea plant could be cultivated in the region bordering the Himalayas but nothing was done about the matter for the following 45 years.

      Chinese varieties of tea were first introduced into India by the British, in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. The British, using Chinese seeds, plus Chinese planting and cultivating techniques, launched a tea industry by offering land in Assam to any European who agreed to cultivate tea for export.  Maniram Dewan (1806-1858) was the first Indian tea planter, and is credited with establishing the first commercial plantations of the Assamese variety of tea.

      In the 1820s, the British East India Company began large-scale production of tea in Assam, of a tea variety traditionally brewed by the local tribes. In 1826, the British East India Company took over the region from the Ahom kings through the “Yandaboo” Treaty. In 1837, the first English tea garden was established at Chabua in Upper Assam; in 1840, the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region. Beginning in the 1850s, the tea industry rapidly expanded, consuming vast tracts of land for tea plantations. By the turn of the century, Assam became the leading tea producing region in the world.

      The East India Company took lot of interest in Tea –as a result of which numerous Tea Plantations came up. The First was Assam Tea Company with headquarters at Nazira (I worked for this company for 43 years, from 1967 to 2010.) The British, then employed, did not know Tea but took up the challenge.

      Several British/Scottish personnel were employed. Some of them who then joined as Managers and Assistant Managers were from Air Force, or with Army background. The Company wanted intelligent persons with Management qualities, That is how they earned respect as “Burra Sahib” / “Boga Sahib “and “Mai Baap.”full stop

     The Pioneers- The early British Tea Planters had an extremely hard & lonely life but finally they did a wonderful work. They cleared the Jungles –planted several acres of Tea – in Assam. They faced numerous problems, like wild life (Tigers, leopards, Elephants, snakes of all types,) epidemics like malaria  – then there was extreme shortage of workers.  Known for their ambition, strict leadership and perseverance, the traits that once helped them rule the world, they gradually converted the Tea Plantations into a luxurious life and Tea into a profitable business. The pioneers and the following generations overcame the hurdles though with lot of casualties. They built   Luxurious huge Bungalows  with all possible amenities, employed  a large retinue of workers for looking after the spacious bungalows , the huge compounds and, at the same time they  made “ Kutcha ( Bamboo & Thatch )Houses , basic amenities, hospitals and recreation centers for the workers. For themselves they formed Tea Clubs where they could play Tennis, Polo, Golf, Football etc. including the favorite evening time drinks- “The well-stocked Bar”. Several Clubs till now still have the name as Polo Club –like Misa Polo Club, Moran Polo Club as Polo was their favorite game. The Tea Clubs had Wednesday and Saturday afternoon for games – Saturday evening for meeting people and enjoying their weekend with several rounds of drinks.
For decades Tea plantations were managed by the “Boga Sahibs”.  As the quote goes the only constant in life is change, gradually after India’s Independence in 1947 few British started leaving Tea and a  certain class of Indians started joining tea plantations . The “Boga Sahibs” recognized and rewarded  good work but socially they maintained a distance at least in the initial years. The expatriates at the Planters Club were at one end of the “Bar” while young Indian recruits’ were on the other end. The formal parties or even in general get together,  the distance was maintained.

      From faraway Rajasthan, the land of heat & dust, came the Marwaris who sensed fortunes in Tea plantations. They braved immense hardship, but battled on and built their business from scratch.  Later the Marwaris even began buying out British Plantations.

      By 1880 the pioneering days of tea industry in Assam were over. Meanwhile , some 200 miles to the south, tracts of indigenous tea had been found growing over a large area- particularly in the Surma valley in the district of Sylhet and Cachar. In the Darjeeling district tea cultivation started in mid-1850s. By early 1860s tea growing district was extended to Terai and to Dooars, where a very large area and compact area eventually opened up.

On joining Tea Plantations I felt that Tea life was wonderful - full of excitement. The living was of high standard and seeing wild life from such close quarters was thrilling. Now and then on way to the Tea club we would be chased by a rouge elephant, other times they came in a group when paddy was ready not only to feed themselves but  more  to enjoy home-made liquor that was brewed in the labor lines. What followed  thereafter  was a sheer rampage by the herd of Elephants. But on this page I will not embark on these chapters of personal life that was so very different and unique in those forlorn areas. May be in another part of the series I will pen down those personal experiences and there are so many.

       Here, let us continue on the journey how gradually the Boga Sahibs on Tea train started disembarking and the Brown sahibs started boarding.  Around 1965 – the expatriates had started packing up in majority though the ownership of the Tea gardens was still majority British.

Perchance, I got to see a circular / letter addressed to the British Planters, by name with the heading Reorganization of Management. It read as follows below:-

      To quote  “ With the devaluation of the Indian rupee, the British members of the Senior Staff have suffered substantial losses in their monthly maintenance remittances to the United Kingdom and in their retirement benefits. After the most thorough examination, the Tea Companies in our Agency have most reluctantly come to the conclusion that they cannot compensate all such personnel for their losses , in consequence of which we have with very great regret, had to advise a considerable number of these personnel that they will shortly have to leave our services prematurely .

The departure of these personnel will leave a number of gaps in the management of our estates, which will entail substantial recruitment of untrained personnel in the Assistant cadre and the promotion to management of a number of present Indian assistants who have had only brief or no previous managerial experience. The Company is confident that the latter will serve them well in their new capacities but in order that they, and the new personnel recruited, should have adequate assistance and guidance from those of experience. “Unquote

      It is very interesting to observe that the new recruits were mostly from Rajasthan, Punjab and Bengal.  The reason was that the Companies did not much demand higher educational backgrounds but selected persons who could command labour force, like an Army commanding officer.  Hence majority of Rajputs were selected as they were from higher aristocratic social class, born to rule and with good English schooling backgrounds. Similarly  was the case from Punjab as  ability for good man management was the chief criteria to induct the new brigade since Tea is a labour oriented industry. Several were from Mayo College, St. Stephens college and some direct from Schools like Bishop Cotton school Shimla, Doon School Dehra Dun, and few Army  Captains released by short service commission.

       The year 1967 when I joined Tea Plantations –Twenty two, new Indian recruits (Assistant Managers) were inducted in  Assam Company, as that many expatriates of the company were asked to retire / leave prematurely . I was the only Engineer to join. Few ex-Merchant Navy Engineers were employed earlier as companies were expanding their factories- new buildings, and bringing in new modern equipment for Tea manufacture.

       Up till the late 1960s, life on the tea gardens remained rooted in the Raj.  But it was an anachronism, an era that had to end. Even so, the change in the tea planter's life-style is so dramatic and all-embracing that even 1970 seems like a century ago.

      The change was hastened when British-owned companies sold out to Indian owners, mainly  profit-oriented Marwari businessmen. With the change in management - and the sudden competition in international markets that Indian tea faced - the old life-style of the tea planter was over.

      Once a way of life, now it is just like another job.


August 20 2015


A heated debate is going on in India whether or not the tea worker is paid
‘minimum wage’ as prescribed by the annals of Government. The employers state vehemently  that they are doing their best on the tripartite level on a platform which saves them from the “Minimum Wages Act" by way of an addition of other fringe benefits to the mutually agreed wage.

But the debate does not stop there, and we at Siliguri are making it a point to break away from the past of the slavery model and take it up during our 2015 November edition of India Tea Forum. Establishment of a Tea Park here invited entrepreneurs to set up units to add value to tea to be able to realise higher returns from their sales in order to improve the state of affairs.
For the last one hundred years we have not been able to add anything
else to the Indian tea industry other than the wheat grinding rollers used
as CTC machines (which have engulfed 95% production), and this is
where innovations are necessary both on a production and marketing
level to take Indian teas to new nights and reward tea workers with
better wages.
"Natural teas” is a new term being used in India by certain sections
of tea doyens just as “speciality teas” is used in the West. Whether
or not they mean exactly the same thing, they both lead to the same
point--an attempt at a higher price realisation and thus higher wages
for tea workers everywhere.


August 9 2015


This story is thanks to Shamol Ghosal and Robin Humphries




Anthony Langat 


Tea pickers: Photo: Wikimedia


THIKA, Kenya, August 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The first thing that strikes you as you enter the Makomboki Tea Factory is the air. It's clear, absent of the dark smoke that billows from the boilers of Kenya's other tea factories.


Of the 66 tea factories under the management of the Kenya Tea Development Authority, Makomboki is the only one that doesn't use firewood Of the 66 tea factories under the management of the Kenya Tea Development Authority, Makomboki is the only one that doesn't use firewood in the processing of its tea.


Instead, the factory has switched to a greener, cheaper fuel: briquettes made of biomass byproducts that would otherwise be treated as waste.


Deep in central Kenya's hilly and fertile tea-growing Muranga county, Makomboki employees feed the factory's boilers with briquettes of macadamia, cashew and rice husks mixed with sawdust.


"We have not used a single cubic meter of firewood in the last six months and we are excited about that," said factory manager John Gitau.


In 2010, the International Trade Centre started a training project aimed at teaching Kenya's tea producers climate change mitigation techniques.


Inspired by what they learned, Makomboki's board of directors decided to shift their fuel source from firewood to briquettes. Since then, the factory has scaled up its use of alternative fuels and weaned itself of its dependence on firewood.


Makomboki makes its briquettes thanks to a project designed by Living Earth Foundation, a UK-based charity working to tackle the energy challenge facing Kenyan tea producers. Funding for the Makomboki briquette production plant was provided by the European Commission and British retailer Marks & Spencer, which buys tea from the factory.


The husks for the briquettes come from other factories within Muranga and Kiambu counties and the sawdust from mills near Makomboki.


"Saw millers actually have a problem finding ways to dispose of their sawdust," said Gitau. "We are helping them get rid of their waste."


According to Gitau, in the six months that it takes the factory to produce around 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million pounds) of tea, their boilers used to consume up to 10,000 cubic meters of wood - the equivalent of 30,000 trees.


By swapping firewood for sawdust and briquettes, he said, Makomboki alone will have saved 60,000 trees in the course of a year.


"If the same practice is replicated by all the factories in Kenya, we will have saved a lot of trees and contributed to a better environment," said Gitau.




Mary Njenga, a post-doctoral fellow of bioenergy at the World Agroforestry Center, hails the use of sawdust in the making of fuel briquettes.


As long as the sawdust is a byproduct of a sustainable timber system - in which new trees are planted to replace those that are felled - burning sawdust in a factory is preferable to saw millers setting piles of it alight in the open.


"Many timber producing areas burn sawdust (to get rid of it) but tea factories will be able to turn the sawdust into a resource," she said.


According to Njenga, burning sawdust in a boiler releases fewer carbon emissions than if it were burned in a field.


"The temperatures inside the boilers of tea factories are so high, they are able to more fully burn the particulate matter and the carbon dioxide so that little is released," she said.


Makomboki manager Gitau says tea factories that continue to use firewood can't ignore their own roles in the adverse effects of climate change. He points to an unusually long dry season that hit tea crops this year.

 "During this year's dry season, we are experiencing problems we have never before," he said. "Tea bushes are drying up and farmers have to cut them and it could take up to three years before they are ready to be picked again."

 The move away from firewood also makes financial sense. Gitau says that swapping to fuel briquettes has reduced Makomboki's energy costs by nearly half.

 The factory used to spend 55 million shillings ($542,000) per year on firewood, but the introduction of briquettes has cut the energy bill to 30 million shillings ($295,600).


According to Gitau, word is spreading on the benefits of briquettes. Delegations from other factories have visited Makomboki to learn more about the alternative fuel, he said. And his hope is that they, too, will follow his factory's lead.


"We want to run a sustainable business here," said Gitau. "I want my son to be a factory manager some day, and if everyone conserves the environment, that will happen." (Reporting by Anthony Langat; editing by Jumana Farouky and Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's rights, trafficking and corruption. Visit




 May 23 2015

 Thanks to Shamol for this information:

Darjeeling Tea
the 'Champagne of Teas' faces an uncertain future

Jeff Koehler gives a talk about his book 'Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea' at the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature FestivalThe future of Darjeeling tea is at risk – according to a new book by American authorJeff Koehler.The famous tea-growing region in the Eastern Himalayan hills of India is facing three threats, the writer, photographer, cook and author, who has recently penned Darjeeling: A History of the World’s Greatest Tea, said.“Darjeeling Tea is in dire straits – maybe in 30 years you won’t be drinking it anymore,” he continued, in a talk during the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival.Firstly, tea-growing is very sensitive and the changing climate, for example a lack of rains or late monsoon, is affecting the long-term yield, he said. Rising temperatures were affecting the period of no plucking when the bushes needed cool temperatures to rejuvenate. Secondly, Ghorka separatists in the Darjeeling Hills and in Dooars are demanding their own state in West Bengal based on ethno-linguistic lines, and the Bandhs (days of protest) they organise, when tea plants and factories are forced to close for days or weeks on end, are hampering tea production. The third threat is labour. “No one wants to pluck tea anymore,” Koehler told the audience.“These tea estates suffer from 40 per cent absenteeism. And you can’t fire people because of the way the estate works,” he said.He said young people on the estate had no interest in working as pluckers owing to better educations and access to TV which gave them higher aspirations than the previous generation, many of whom had been illiterate.“I did not meet any pluckers who want their children to be pluckers because they don’t feel they have any respect. This is the most pressing issue. Who is going to pluck?” he asked.India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China. The three prominent tea-growing regions are Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri.Despite the growing popularity of coffee among the urban middle-classes in India, tea remains most the widely drunk hot beverage in India. Eighty per cent of Indian production of tea is used for national consumption.However most Indians drink Assam tea with milk and sugar whereas Darjeeling tea, considered the ‘crown jewel’ or ‘Champagne’ of Indian teas, is drunk black.Seventy per cent of Darjeeling Tea is exported abroad, with Germany importing the most, Koehler said.“Darjeeling is a tiny tea-growing region compared to Assam – where half the tea of India is produced – but the best tea is grown in Darjeeling,” Koehler added.India produces about one billion kg of tea a year. But Darjeeling produces less than one per cent of that of tea.It was the Darjeeling region and its unique tea that fascinated Koehler. “Classically Darjeeling tea is fresh and aromatic, it has a famous bright metallic colour, floral notes – but more stem than petal – not flowery. In the spring it’s kind of grassy,” he said. “Darjeeling tea is known for its bright colour which changes throughout the year. No tea can replicate that. If you plant this tea plant in South India you get a South Indian tea, not a Darjeeling Tea,” he said.He spent the entire 2013 harvest there on the tea estates with tea planters. About eight to nine million kg of Darjeeling tea is produced from the region’s 87 estates which are spread across 20,000 hectares.He discovered the first reason for its uniqueness was the region. “Darjeeling is 7,000 feet high. The plants grow slower in that elevation, the leaves are smaller, the flavours get concentrated, the soil has acidity to it, there is lots of mist and cloud cover which stops leaf damage,” he explained.Each bush of Darjeeling tea produces only 3.5 ounces of tea, which is just 40 cups. “The per hectare produce is one third the Indian average, so it’s quite low,” he said.The second reason for Darjeeling ‘s uniqueness is the way the tea is processed. Most black tea, especially the type used in mainstream tea bags, is produced using CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl.) “But the best tea is made in the Orthodox way,” Koehler said.Darjeeling tea is produced using Orthodox Production.  “Orthodox Production is an old-fashioned way in which the tea is withered (to lose moisture), rolled, fermented and sorted and every part of the process is done by hand,” he said. Women pluck the tea bushes taking two leaves and a bud using both hands, he said. “This is the classic Darjeeling pluck. They pluck a bush once a week. It takes 22,000 of these shoots to make a single kilogram of tea. It’s impossible to mechanise as there is no machine that could only choose these plucks, so they can only pluck 400 pounds of tea a year,” he explained.The tea industry dominates Darjeeling. 1.8 million people live there and 70 per cent are related to industry. The industry directly employs 55,000 permanent workers and 18,000 temporary ones. The workers get approximately Rs 122.50 (£1.20) a day. In addition they get to live in village communities on the estates and receive food rations, education, childcare and medical care. The average estate has 800 workers producing 100,000 kg of tea but 6,000 to 10,000 people live on these estates as often just one family member is working. “Their life is on the estate. The family has one position that is passed on down the family,” he said.“Women do the sorting and plucking and men do the pruning. It’s overall a very female-dominated industry.” Once the tea is ready. every batch is tasted. “Tasting tea is far more complex than tasting wine,” he added.Darjeeling tea is renowned for its muscatel flavour (musky spice with sweet notes), single estate teas and its four flushes referring to the time of year the tea is harvested. Different flushes of Darjeeling tea affect the taste, quality and price. The most expensive and sought after tea is the second flush.Those attending the talk were invited to sample teas from the Ahmad Tea rangeHarvested end of May or early June, the second flush is considered the best tea with more rounded flavours, mellow, deeper, some peach notes and sometimes apricots and darker colour. It is often referred to as the ‘muscatel flush’ as this flavour is most prominent in this flush.Conversely, the monsoon flush (July to September) is “the worst tea you can get,” Koehler said. “You will never find single estate monsoon flush. It loses its finesse because the leaves are bigger, it is very humid, the fermentation period is very difficult to control, and it’s really difficult to make a good tea.”Koehler also explained that tea was not “naturally” from Darjeeling; it was grown there by the British. “The town was not built to grow tea – it was one of the great hill stations,” he said. “The British East India Company imported 25 million pounds of tea for a population of what was, several hundreds of years ago, just 10 million people in the UK. But the tea was being imported from China (rather than a British overseas colony) and the Chinese only wanted silver in return for it, not Wedgwood, which was draining the Treasury coffers. So then the UK sent opium from India to China in return for Chinese tea leaves,” he explained. That led to the Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) when China unsuccessfully attempted to close its borders to trade.The British realised they needed to find somewhere within their Empire to grow tea as they were worried about losing their source, so the British East India Company started to look for places to grow tea in India, he said. They found the perfect place in 1834 when they discovered a wild indigenous tea growing in Assam.Half of all India’s tea today is from Assam which produces more than a billion pounds of tea (about 500 million kg) a year. “But the Assam tea gave them quantity but not quality,” he explained.In search of quality, the first tea was planted in Darjeeling in 1841 by Dr  A. Campbell using seeds and information stolen from China. “The British brought in Gorkhas from Nepal to plant the tea and the industry took off but it never reached the quantity and amounts of Assam,” he said.Whilst most Indians drink Assam tea mixed with milk, sugar and spices, Darjeeling tea is popular among some urban middle-class Indian households in Kolkata and Delhi. “You can get single estate tea from these estates. There is no need to add anything. It’s about that pure flavour,” he said.“The only way the Darjeeling tea industry is going to survive now is if it finds a domestic market,” he said. “They want the local market.”Koehler said the region’s best hope was to market the ‘romance of the hills’ and the ‘experience’ of drinking Darjeeling tea to Indians – in the same way the coffee industry in India had sold itself on ‘selling a moment or an experience’ to Indians, rather than on the actual product.Koehler also sees potential in Darjeeling’s green, oolong and white teas, growing in popularity in some Indian metros and he points out its green tea is currently very popular among residents of Darjeeling.To listen to the full audio of  the session with Jeff Koehler speaking about Darjeeling tea click

April 5 2015

  Why India Works -

(Written by internationally acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapoor.)

A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu Market
in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure made
me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.

‘Can you fix a Blackberry ?”
‘Of course, show me”
”How old are you”


Bullshit. He was no more than 10. Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn T-shirt and pyjamas! At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.

‘What’s wrong with it?”
‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I cannot operate it”

He grabs it from my hand and looks at it.

'You should wash your hands. Many customers have same problem. Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’

Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10  days, I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back..
” You come back in one hour and I fix it’.
I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an hour. No way.
“Who will fix it?”
‘Big brother’
‘How big is ‘big brother?’
‘big …. Umm ..thirty’
Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.
‘What problem?’ He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.
‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash your hand before you use this’.

What is this about me washing my hands suddenly?? 19 year old big brother
rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper. Original part? I doubt it.  But by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screwdrivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.

“How long will this take?”
”Six minutes”

This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his grubby cramped work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish into virtual space. People crowd around to see what’s happening. I am not breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an adventure and literallyhave to stop myself grabbing my precious Blackberry back and making a quickescape.
But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my Blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such hostility that he stepped back.

‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?”
‘backed up?’
‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up’
‘You tell me that now?’

But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching
laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show. I asked
him how much.
‘500 rupees’ He ventured uncertainly. People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation. That’s $10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was about to spend on new Blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his ‘high price’ but calmly paid him. Much to the disappointment of the expectant crowd.

‘do you have an I-Phone ? Even the new ‘4D one ?'
‘no, why”
‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or film you want. I give you 10 film on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee’

I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what we
call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what can you say about two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 16 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall' shop and can fix any technology that
the greatest technologists in the world can throw at them. I smiled at the
future of our country. If only we could learn to harness this potential.

‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am
feeling seriously unclean.


 March 13 2015

Thanks to Shamol we have two relevant reports of what is going on in
the commercial world of Tea


US Tea Growing: new agribusiness brewing up a storm!

by Naomi Rosen

Mt. Vernon, Texas - Can you grow tea in the US? Yes! A recent tour of Southern US tea estates by growers, educators, retailers, and enthusiasts proves that a giant is about to awaken. According to consumer goods research firm, Packaged Facts, domestic tea sales at restaurants, grocery stores, and shops are up nearly 32% from 2007. Sales last year reached $15.7 billion with the market expected to expand to $18 billion within the next two years. The US grown tea movement is driven in part by the increasing market demand for specialty tea and the confidence given to small farm startups created by the ‘Farm to Table’, ‘Artisan’, ‘Buy Local’, and ‘Urban Food’ movements of the past decade. USLTG President, Jason McDonald, says of the US market and recent event, “I am pleased with the gaining interest in the US grown tea movement and think that this event gave the movement serious traction and direction going into the inaugural membership drive of the USLTG.”

The USLTG held its’ first Annual Tea Growers Roundup February 19, 2015 – February 22, 2015, and included visits to select estates and research sites in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Attended by growers from the UK, Hawaii, and numerous other states, the goal of the Roundup was to bring together farmers and aspiring growers to discuss estate operations, Federal, State, and University resources, and tea crop production issues. There was also an opportunity to network and liaison with various research projects already underway here in the USA.

Dr. Guihong Bi, Assoc. Research Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University, stated of the tour, “It is exciting to see more people getting interested in growing tea within the US. Contacts that we have made through the USLTG have been invaluable in the development of our research objectives.”

About USLTG:

The US League of Tea Growers (“USLTG”), formed in 2013 by Nigel Melican, of Teacraft, Ltd., and Jason McDonald, of The Great Mississippi Tea Company, is a professional group promoting and educating tea growers (only 25 plants needed for a small grower) in the United States.


 Tea & Coffee Expo
March 13 2015

In view of the Tea & Coffee Expo held in Kolkata , we have come across some of the Best solutions for Tea Flavoring, Blending, Cleaning and Packing on the International level.

Firmenich , a Swiss Company has an Innovative Craftsmanship in Fragrances and Flavors now 119 Years old. At the same time combined with the art of machining the product to suit the Consumer Platform , has earned a name for itself in Product development by M/s Hamilton Engineering who has a team with a Mission.

We look forward to provide the most relevant Flavour Solutions with a consistent source of  creative inspirations, to deliver unique taste for your company.

We will be in touch and we are thankful for your continuous patronage .

If you need any more details. Please feel free to contact us. Looking forward to hear from you soon.

Best Regards & thanks

Shamol Ghoshal (VP), Mob # :  +91 9903142944,
April 22 2014

 Thanks to Shamol we have this disertation originating from The Netherlands
 Shamol said: Found this very informative , could get some feedback on the subject
​ ​ ​

An integrated approach for monitoring tea plantations
Rishiraj Dutta
Department of Earth Observation Science

Faculty of Geoinformation Science & Earth Observation, ITC, University of Twente, Enschede
The Netherlands


This study proposes an approach to develop a simple, time efficient and generic approach to assess and monitor tea plantations in Northeast India using time series remote sensing images. The tea industry in India is in a consolidation phase with the plantations suffering from yield decline and quality. Tea is affected by a plethora of factors including age, environment and management. Therefore, monitoring and analysing growth of tea plantations over space and time is a very important aspect. Remote sensing offers an efficient and reliable means of collecting the information required, in order to map tea type and acreage. Through the use of satellite imageries, information on the health of tea plantations can be extracted. The spectral reflectance of a tea field always varies with respect to the phenology, stage type and crop health and these could be well monitored and measured using multispectral sensors. Information from remotely sensed data can be integrated into GIS by combining with ancillary data which can provide insights to the cultural practices being implied into the cropping system. It will also help farmers identify areas within a field which are experiencing difficulties, so that they can apply, for instance, the correct type and amount of fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide. Using this approach, planters will not only improve the productivity of their land, but will also reduce farm input costs and minimise environmental impacts. Based on this, a stepwise approach has been designed to assess and monitor tea plantations in Northeast India.

India continues to be the world’s largest producer and consumer of tea. Domestic productions as well as exports have been on the rise. However, the country is facing stiff competition from countries like Sri Lanka, Kenya, China, Bangladesh and Indonesia, and issues of quality and realisations on Indian teas have been witnessing a downward trend. Statistics indicate that tea plants start yielding from the third year onwards, maintain a steady increasing trend upto a certain age and reach a peak followed by a decline, thus questioning the further commercial viability of the section (Dutta et al., 2010). The economic life of the bush has been estimated to be 40 years. After this, the amount of non-productive tissues of tea plants becomes so great that its maintenance adversely affects the production of new shoots (Hadfield, 1974). Even with best management practices, tea bushes still get infested with pests and diseases. This causes gradual decay and death, thus creating vacant patches in the field which increase with time, resulting in the loss of productive tea area.

Being a mono-cultured crop, tea has to stand in fields in situations with very less inter-culture operation and no crop rotation. Such conditions ultimately lead to degradation of soil environment and health of the bushes. The mono-culture of tea is said to cause a condition of improper soil functioning known as soil sickness (Barua, 1969). Because of these conditions, when a tea area reaches the economic life age, the section is uprooted and a new generation of young tea is planted. However, immediate replanting after uprooting has universally experienced serious establishment problems of young tea. Its stand and health remain far behind an average healthy young tea plant despite using best known growing techniques and inputs. To combat such situations after uprooting, Guatemala grass should be planted for 18-24 months which is said to rejuvenate the soil for replanting. Following rejuvenation, a desirable growth of young tea is usually noticed. However, a gestation period of 18-24 months has always been playing an important role in replanting as the break-even period of young tea including these two years becomes quite longer.

Soil fertility status has to be kept at an optimum level to achieve desirable yields. Soil health deterioration is a prime concern for tea gardens in India. In order to achieve high yields and quality, exact parameters on soil physics, soil biology and soil chemistry in relation to two years of rehabilitation/crop rotation period have to be stressed upon. It is also necessary to know the various inputs to soil which are being applied to increase the fertility and availability of organic carbon/potash/sulphur in soil so that effective soil management techniques can be put into action (Dutta et al., 2010). Pest and diseases are very important factors in the decline of yield and quality of tea (Dutta et al., 2008). According to these researchers, use of remote sensing could prove to be an important tool in monitoring the health of tea bush and also delineation of affected areas by pests and diseases. Water logging and floods have caused serious threats to low-lying gardens (Bhagat et al., 2009). As a result of water logging, yield and quality have considerably declined. The whole facet of water logging is on an upward trend and continues to include more and more gardens with the passage of time. It has been observed that the causes of waterlogging include eutrophication, man-made bunds and diversion of natural drainage channels by garden authorities. All these aspects form a very important area of research that will immensely help the tea industry in India.

Space technology which largely includes remote sensing and satellite communication systems, offers an efficient and reliable means of collecting the data/information required to map the tea types and acreage. Remote sensing through its satellite imageries provides the structure information on the health of the vegetation (Dutta, 2006). The spectral reflectance of a tea field always varies with respect to phenology, stage type and crop health and these could be well monitored and measured using the multispectral sensors. Information from remotely sensed data can be fed into GIS which when combined with ancillary data can provide deep insight into the cultural practice being implied in the cropping system. Stresses associated with moisture deficiencies, insects, fungal and weed infestations must be detected early enough to provide an opportunity to the planters for undertaking mitigation measures. Remote sensing would allow the planters to identify areas within a field which are experiencing difficulties, so that they can apply, for instance, the correct type and amount of fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide. Using this approach, planters can not only improve the productivity of their land, but also reduce farm input costs and minimizes environmental impacts. Remote sensing has a number of attributes that lend themselves to monitoring the health of tea plants (Dutta, 2006). Satellite imageries also give the required spatial overview of a large catchment or land which can aid in identifying the tea crops affected by too dry or wet conditions; by insect, weed or fungal infestations or weather related damage.

Examining the ratio of reflected infrared to red wavelengths is an excellent measure of vegetation health. This is the premise behind some vegetation indices such as the normalised differential vegetation index (NDVI). Healthy plants have a high NDVI value because of their high reflectance of infrared light, and relatively low reflectance of red light (Rajapakse et al., 2002). Phenology and vigour are the main factors affecting NDVI. It is possible to examine variations in tea crop growth within one field is possible. Areas of consistently healthy and vigorous crop would appear uniformly bright. Stressed vegetation would appear dark amongst the brighter, healthier crops. To achieve timely and accurate information on the status of crops, there is need to have an up-to-date crop monitoring system that provides accurate information. Remotely sensed data has the potential and capacity to achieve this. The use of remotely sensed data in crop acreage estimation has been demonstrated by various researchers across the world (Saha and Jonna, 1994). Remote sensing and crop growth simulation models are becoming increasingly recognised as potential tools for growth monitoring and yield estimation (Bauman, 1992). To harvest an everlasting benefit, the tea industry will have to take up uprooting and replanting in large areas at a time, while looking into the real scientific cause of the problem immediately after uprooting to reduce/remove the gestation period. To monitor the activities effectively and in real time, the use of space technology which may include remote sensing and a satellite communication and monitoring system is inevitable. Keeping in mind the various problems being faced by the tea industry (as outlined above), the proposed methodology is designed with the following long term and short term objectives.

Long term objective
The long term objective is to develop an interactive monitoring and decision support system framework using a systematic analysis of scaled (spatial/temporal) and geo-referenced data/information for tea plantations (with special emphasis on replanted crop) of Assam and North Bengal and conditioning variables (policy, infrastructure, markets, ethno-demographics) relevant for planning sustainable tea production.

Short term objective
Short term objectives are the following:
  • To develop a geo-database of biophysical and socio-economic parameters of tea growing areas of Assam and North Bengal with special emphasis on soil parameters
  • To study and monitor replantation activity of tea gardens using satellite imagery
  • To monitor the extent of damage to tea plantations caused by pests, diseases and other biotic and abiotic stresses
  • To develop drainage plans for tea plantations vulnerable to flooding using a GIS platform
  • To develop a systematic decision support system framework for planning sustainable tea plantations.
Critical issues/research questions
The following are the critical research questions:
  • How will radar image help in studying the soil status of tea plantations?
  • How can high resolution satellite images help in delineating tea patches into different categories? (viz. pests and disease infestations, categorization of good and poor growth)
  • Which classification will be more suitable for delineating tea patches?
  • How can fuzzy classification help in solving multi-objective problems of tea?
  • Is it possible to separate out mixed classes in tea using sub-pixel classifier?
  • Which is the best fuzzy technique to identify a particular tea garden from a landuse/landcover map?
  • What will be the role of multi-temporal data in carrying out this research?
  • How will spatio-temporal analysis and decision support tools help in strategic planning and management of tea plantations?

Study area

The proposed study is designed for tea growing areas of Northeast India (Figure 1). The study area will be divided into six zones comprising of the tea areas namely Upper Assam, South Bank, North Bank, Cachar, Terai and Dooars. These are the major tea belts of India. The area is covered by forests, undulating terrains and also by hills and plains. Assam extends from 24⁰ 8’ N to 28⁰ 2’ N latitude and 89⁰ 42’ E to 96⁰ E longitude while Terai and Dooars lie between latitudes 27° 5' N to 20° 9' N latitudes and 87° 59' E to 88° 56' E longitudes. Summers are hot and humid with temperature ranging from 25 – 35⁰C while the winters are relatively cold at night but pleasant during the day with temperature ranging from 15 - 20⁰C. Between June – August, the region also experiences the monsoon rains. The average annual rainfall of the region is around 2000mm.

The study will comprise of satellite data procured from NRSC, Hyderabad for monitoring and carrying out required analysis for the individual gardens. Time series data should be considered in order to monitor the different stages of replantation. The basic objective of taking different images is to monitor and assess the entire process of uprooting and replanting in tea gardens of specific areas. Subsequent soil surveys should be carried out at regular intervals and mapping of the areas should be done based on the available datasets and ground truths. Use of RADAR imagery would help in distinguishing between tea plants and shade trees as it has the capability to penetrate beyond clouds and canopy cover. In addition to monitoring of pests and disease infestations, drainage aspects should also needs to be considered. This entire approach would then give us a better understanding of the patterns observed in a tea ecosystem. This would then enable the planters to modify their current decision support system for effective management and strategic planning of the gardens.

Figure 1: Study area where the proposed method could be implemented

Generation of base maps: The base maps will include the study area boundaries, latitude and longitude of the area, road maps, contour maps, cadastral maps and attribute data. Individual garden maps should be collected for each zone at cadastral level. Every garden has garden maps with well demarcated sections and their coordinates. These garden maps could provide information like identifying the sections undergoing replantation with their section numbers and also the sections showing variations due to soil conditions and cultural practices.

Generation of thematic maps: Generation of DEM to observe the elevation of the area and its role is important in this study. Based on the existing contour maps and/or stereo satellite image, a DEM of the entire terrain could be generated, followed by the generation of slope and aspect maps since these factors (slope, elevation and aspect) have enormous importance to tea plants and also to soil conditions. These would then help the managers in effective decision-making. High resolution DEM at 30 m could be integrated and used for further analysis.

Satellite images: Space-based remote sensing due to its advantages of synoptic and repetitive coverage and providing data in a quantifiable manner has enabled the monitoring and assessment of natural resources and environment periodically and thus help decision makers to appropriately integrate the same with the other conventional inputs. IRS data has been extensively used in crop acreage estimation, ground water prospecting, cropping system analysis, precision farming, potential fishing zone identification, biodiversity characterisation at landscape level, desertification monitoring, wet land information generation, watershed development, urban area mapping, disaster management, flood monitoring, drought assessment and land slide hazard zonation etc.

Resourcesat-1 (IRS P6) with its varied sensors will add to our understanding in the above application areas. The data to be used for this study are the LISS IV (5.8m) and LISS III (23.5m). The ASTER (15m) data could also be used for monitoring purposes. ASTER products have characteristics such as classification of vegetables, grains, trees and pastures. It could be effectively used in monitoring tea areas due to its following characteristics such as measurement of planting and forest areas, crop yield estimation, monitoring of forest growth, investigation of soil health, investigation of human influence on the environment, mapping and monitoring and influence on environment due to natural disasters. CARTOSAT-2 (1m) could provide the capability to update the large scale maps to the levels of 1:4000 to 1:2500 scales. With these satellites, several applications like mapping the individual settlements, morphometric analysis of urban features, declination of water sheds and individual fields are possible. The image could be effectively used for delineation and characterisation of tea areas and their changes in the land use pattern. RADAR (30m) data can be used since it has the ability to penetrate through clouds and crop canopy, thereby avoiding shade tree interference. It could be fused with optical data and information could be extracted regarding the activities going on under shade trees. The above mentioned datasets could be effectively used for delineation of tea patches into different categories by applying various classification techniques like the sub-pixel classifier, segmentation-based classifier and fuzzy classifier. Large scale variations in the terrain properties that are relevant to tea bush could be studied through the use of remote sensing techniques.

Monitoring tea replantation/rejuvenation: Tea replantation is a stepwise process. There are eighteen steps that the replantation process has to undergo, starting from uprooting to fertilizer application to the young plants (Figure 2). The replantation process generally starts from the month of October in those sections where the plantations are more than 40 years old and where there is a decline in yield and quality of tea. During replantation, the tea plants are uprooted from the sections and the land is ploughed, followed by planting of Guatemala grass. After 18 – 24 months stand in the field, the Guatemala grasses are removed and the land is ploughed for new plantation followed by leveling and manuring. Once ready, the seedlings are planted from the nurseries.

This study aims to monitor Guatemala grass and detect the patterns relevant for tea bush. To carry out such a study, a multi-temporal image analysis needs to be performed. An image for the month of October will give the status of sections before uprooting, while an image of January will give the status of sections uprooted completely. An image for the month of June for the next year will show the Guatemala plantations, confirming that the process of soil rehabilitation has started. From this stage, at an interval of three months, satellite images can be used to detect patterns and extract information regarding the status of the section which would enable us to take effective measures as required. The pattern analysis can be done using wavelets. After the replantation process is completed and the patterns analysed, a problem specific fitness factor can be used to construct a fitness function to the feature space. This process would discover the patterns that would yield high fitness value. The temporal pattern that matches will then be observed through a thresholding process. This algorithm will help in identification of statistically significant temporal patterns in tea plantations.

Figure 2: Diagram showing the different steps of replantation (Tea Research Association, Assam, India)

Image processing, reconnaissance and survey: Once the images are procured, they would be geometrically, radiometrically and atmospherically corrected and the noise in the images would be removed, followed by the generation of false colour composites (FCC) and its interpretation. The image interpretation will involve the identification of tea patches using shape, size, colour, tone, texture, etc. It will also involve monitoring of uprooted and replanted tea garden sections. The identified patches in the images require verification through visual interpretation and field visits which would involve visiting the area, identifying the patches, ground truthing and collecting relevant garden data for carrying out both image processing and statistical modelling.

Analysis: Different classification techniques would be involved (sub-pixel, fuzzy and segmentation based classifier) to delineate the tea patches into different categories. For the classification techniques, different datasets at different time periods should be used to classify the health status of tea patches in the area. The sub-pixel classification would help identify the mix classes within a single pixel. The fuzzy classification would help to characterise the complexities in the tea plantations. The analysis will divide the image data into various segments and then classify the segments by means of fuzzy-based approach. The fuzzy supervised classification used for mapping the tea areas with high resolution images like LISS IV or CARTOSAT-2 may provide high spectral seperability among different classes. By applying the fuzzy classification, vegetation heterogeneity and variability can be modelled if a relationship between fuzzy membership and percent cover can be reliably established. Improved classification accuracy and the potential to model vegetation structure and density will prove useful to the managers. This is especially true in areas where existing classifications do not adequately portray the complexity of vegetation found in the region. Field data can be used to build a reference dataset. The soil map and yield map generated using soil and yield data can be used to detect and analyse diseases, thereby assessing the crop damage. Further, the use of fuzzy technique would help in better understanding of the influence of various parameters like NDVI, textural data, etc. A soil moisture retrieval algorithm can be developed by combining parametric and non-parametric tools like maximum likelihood, fuzzy logic, etc. Qualitative and quantitative maps can be generated with different levels of accuracy. Crop and disease specific signatures can be used to observe and assess the damage to crops. Once the crop assessment is done, wavelets can be applied to detect changes in the time series data. The patterns analysis carried out can then help to identify, detect and assess changes in the datasets using various statistical techniques. Therefore, using the space-time analysis one can consider the effects of pests and diseases on tea bush health and its prediction of occurrence. This would then enable analysis of the interactions between pest and diseases in space and time using multivariate statistical modelling.

Leaf selection: The collected spectra will contain a large number of soil spectra that will be recorded together with the plant spectra. In order to consider the entire spectral signature of the canopy, it is very important to select only plant spectra and separate them from the soil spectra. The whole canopy has to be taken into consideration because the disease may occur in any direction in the tea plant. NDVI is a widely used parameter for leaf detection in presence of soil (Rouse et al., 1974). It is defined as follows:

where, NIR is the near-infrared reflectance (740–760 nm) and R the red reflectance (620–640 nm). The spread of the NDVI over a plant (or an entire plot) characterizes the state of the plant (age, leaf area index and health to some extent).

Soil analysis: The successful mapping of soil moisture under vegetation canopies from active microwave data would be an advantage to agriculture, global climate change studies, water resource management and other areas. The dynamic range of soil moisture is generally affected by the variation in soil surface characteristics such as: soil texture, land cover, and vegetation parameters. Soil texture affects the microwave sensing of soil moisture through changes in the soil dielectric constant (via the relative amount of sand, silt, and clay in the soil). The land cover effect on the total back scatter received by the sensor is mainly due to the macro-structure of vegetation canopy such as height of canopy and number of plants or trees per unit area and the micro-structure. The behaviour of the soil can also be studied using space-time analysis. Based on different soil characteristics, soil patterns can be studied. Therefore, microwave remote sensing can play a very important role in determining the physical properties of soil. Microwave technology has the ability to quantitatively measure soil moisture under a variety of topographic and vegetation cover conditions, so potentially it could be extended to routine measurements from a satellite system (Engman and Chauhan, 1995).

A polarimetric SAR backscatter measurements, by using eigen values and eigenvectors of the covariance matrix, can be decomposed to into three components based on the scattering types - (1) an odd number of reflections, (2) an even number reflections, and (3) a cross-polarised scattering power. It can be written as:
Where λ and K are eigen values and eigenvectors; * is a conjugate operator for a complex number and T is a transpose operator for a vector. The subscript 1, 2, and 3 represents the decomposed odd, even, and defuse components, respectively. This decomposition technique allows us to obtain the estimation of single and double reflection components of backscattering coefficients.

CUPPA Tea Model: The CUPPA Tea Model, developed by the University of Cranfield, UK should be used in all tea growing areas to see if the model could predict tea under Indian conditions. Using this model we can synthesise the large quantity of existing data on the yield responses of tea to climate and management factors, and to make the results accessible to advisers, managers and planners in the smallholder sector through the development of a model to predict yield potential and distribution in tea.

One of the uses of CUPPA-Tea is to estimate the potential yield for a particular area or region. Potential yield is defined as the yield that can be obtained when factors such as water shortage, nutrient limitations, and pests and diseases are not restricting the growth of the crop in any way (Matthews and Stephens, 1998 a,b,c). Only factors such as temperature, sunlight, day length, and clonal characteristics affect the potential yield. It is important for managers to know what the potential yield of a particular site is and its scope for improving the existing yields. In this so-called ‘yield-gap analysis’, if there is only a small difference between the predicted potential yield and what tea growers are achieving at present, then any resources spent in trying to improve yields are likely to be wasted. On the other hand, if there are large differences between potential and actual yields, then it is likely to be worthwhile to improve management in some way, provided that the factor(s) limiting the yields are correctly identified.

MODIS-NDVI analysis: The MODIS-based NDVI and LAI values can be used for yield estimation. An earlier study by Dutta, 2010, confirms that NDVI and tea LAI have a strong relationship. The same method should be applied to all tea growing areas to see the relationship between NDVI and LAI which would further help in effective yield monitoring of individual gardens.

Monitoring of tea plantations from time to time has become a pressing need. Statistical modelling and image mining could play an important role in monitoring the tea gardens from time to time. This proposed study will lead to improving the existing decision support system of tea management wherein all the information will help the management in making effective strategies for improving their tea gardens and the industry as a whole through constant monitoring thereby preventing the yield loss through quality production and increase in profitability. Scheduling of fertilizer, pesticide application and plucking will be generated. This will result in the development of a customised GIS package (Ghosh and Roy, 2004) that will help users have all their spatial and non-spatial information related to the estate and that in turn help the management to take decisions easily. The flow diagrams of the entire methodology are given in Figure 3 and 4.

Figure 3: Flow diagram of the proposed methodology for plantation monitoring

Figure 4: Modified flow diagram of an effective decision support system for the tea garden management for future strategies (Ghosh and Roy, 2004)

  • Barua, D.N., 1969. Seasonal dormancy in tea (Camellia sinensis L.). Nature 224: 514.
  • Bhagat, R.M., Bordoloi, P.K., Buragohain, D., Dutta, R. and Hazarika, M., 2009. GIS application for tea plantation problem of Northeastern India. Proceedings of ESRI User’s Conference, 2009, San Diego, California, USA.
  • Bauman, B.A.M, 1992. Linking physical remote sensing models with crop growth simulation models applied for sugarbeet, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 14:2565 – 2581.
  • Dutta, R., 2006. Assessment of tea bush health and yield using geospatial techniques. Published MSc Thesis, ITC, Enschede, The Netherlands. GIS Development: The Geospatial Resource Portal.
  • Dutta, R., Stein, A. and Patel, N.R., 2008. Delineation of Diseased Tea Patches Using MXL and Texture Based Classification.The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences (ISPRS, Beijing) 37: Part B4, 1693 – 1700.
  • Dutta, R., Stein, A., Smaling, E.M.A., Bhagat, R.M., Hazarika, M., 2010. Effects of plant age and environmental and management factors on tea yield in Northeast India. Agronomy Journal 102: 1290 – 1301.
  • Engman, E.T. and N. Chauhan, 1995. Status of microwave soil moisture measurements with remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment, 51: 189 – 198.
  • Ghosh, A. and Roy, R., 2004. GIS anchored integrated plantation management. Proceedings of Map India Conference, 2004, New Delhi, India.
  • Hadfield, W., 1974. Shade in Northeast Indian tea plantations, II, foliar illumination and canopy characteristics. Journal of Applied Ecology, 62: 179 – 199.
  • Matthews, R.B.and Stephens, W., 1998a. The role of photoperiod in determining seasonal yield variations in tea. Experimental Agriculture 34:323 – 340.
  • Matthews, R.B. and Stephens, W., 1998b. CUPPA-Tea: A simulation model describing seasonal yield variation and potential production of tea. 1. Shoot development and extension. Experimental Agriculture 34: 345 – 367.
  • Matthews, R.B. and Stephens, W., 1998c. CUPPA-Tea: A simulation model describing seasonal yield variation and potential production of tea. 2. Biomass production and water use. Experimental Agriculture 34:369 – 389.
  • Rouse, J.W., Haas, R.H., Schell, J.A. and Deering, D.W., 1974. Monitoring vegetation systems in the Great Plains with ERTS, Proceedings of the Third Earth Resources Technology Satellite-1 Symposium, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, 301–317.
  • Rajapakse, R. M. S. S., Tripathi, N. K.and Honda, K., 2002. Spectral characterization and LAI modelling for the tea (Camelliasinensis (L.) O. Kuntze) canopy. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 23(18): 3569 – 3577.
  • Saha, S. K. and Jonna, S., 1994. Paddy acreage and yield estimation and irrigated crop land inventory using satellite and agrometeorological data. Asian-Pacific Journal of Remote Sensing, 6(2): 79 – 87.



This page is dedicated to

News about Tea

Please click on the heading below to go to the story

February 2013 news Cuttings

Newspaper Cuttings
Tea Cartel formed
Plucking machines threaten livelihoods

China Tea drinking habits

February 18 2013

 Again thanks to Shamol Ghosal we have some interesting newspaper cuttings about the
  Tea Industry

January 29 2013

Thanks to Shamol Ghosal we have four newspaper cuttings telling us about tea today

January 23 2013

This is from the Daily Telegraph of London

'Tea cartel' formed to boost profits

The price of a cup of tea could rise after the world's biggest producers agreed to join forces to boost profits, a Sri Lankan minister has announced.

Global tea prices are currently around $2.5 (£1.57) per kilo, down from about $2.84 last year

By Telegraph staff and agencies

3:08PM GMT 23 Jan 2013

After two days of talks in Colombo between Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi and Rwanda, which account for more than 50pc of global production, the nations announced the formation of the International Tea Producers' Forum.

Sri Lanka's Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said exporting nations had been trying to establish a forum for 80 years. "In that context, what we have just achieved is a historic land mark in the tea industry," he said on Wednesday.

Efforts will initially focus on sharing knowledge and boosting demand for tea to raise prices, but he suggested more sophisticated - and controversial - methods such as supply controls would be raised in the future.

Production quotas "are not part of the objectives listed in the constitution, but I am sure these are matters which will be discussed some time in the future," he added.

In 1994, Colombo proposed a tea cartel on the lines of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the crude oil cartel dominated by Saudi Arabia, but there was no unity among producing nations at the time.

"Price stability is one of the objectives to improve the livelihoods of tea small holders (farmers owning small plots of tea)," he said. "Another objective is to ensure high quality standards."

Mr Samarasinghe explained that unity among producers was "very important from a variety of aspects like foreign exchange earnings, income generation, employment opportunities and several other very useful aspects."

Global tea prices are around $2.5 (£1.57) per kilo, down from about $2.84 a year earlier, while world-wide consumption is set to rise marginally over one percent this year, Sri Lanka tea officials said.

Sri Lanka's tea promotion chief Janaki Kuruppu said prices were much lower compared to other beverages and noted there was room to increase the price of a cup of tea.

"People can pay a little more for tea," Mr Kuruppu said. "In Sri Lanka, tea is cheaper than bottled water."

China and Iran, two of the big consumer nations, have been invited to be observers to the Forum. China is also the world's biggest producer of green tea.

Source: AFP


December 2 2012

 Tea-plucking machines in India threaten Assam livelihoods

By Mark Tully Former BBC India correspondent

The north-eastern Indian state of Assam is renowned for its tea - the backbone of its economy. The traditions of the old estates, including hand-picking, make the tea expensive. But any drop in quality would undermine the Assam brand.

Spending the night in an old fashioned British Raj bungalow on a tea estate in Assam, I was awoken at six in the morning by a siren.

For more than 1,000 men and women this was the alarm call which got them out of bed to prepare for eight hours plucking tea, planting new tea bushes, weeding, digging ditches, or doing any of the other tasks required to produce high quality tea.

The siren also summoned the planters who manage the estate to a meeting with the senior manager at which he allotted them their work for the day.

Assam tea estates look like a vast billiard table cloth - acre after acre of squat green tea bushes huddled together and kept flat by regular plucking.

The tea estate I stayed on was run in the military manner that my autocratic uncle used to manage his estate during the British Raj.

The planters attending the early morning meeting are the officers. They still wear the traditional uniform - shorts and long socks.
Start of quote Deo Raj

A mixture of leaves and stalks, which is what you will get with a machine, does not make good tea"

End Quote Deo Raj

The senior manager is the commanding officer. He lives in a bungalow, the splendour of which is a symbol of his authority.

The officers' mess is the local planter's club, founded by the British. Twirling a white, magnificent, military moustache, Deo Raj, the soldierly senior adviser to the company which owns the tea estate said to me: "This regimental system worked for the British and it has worked throughout my 50 years in tea."

The soldiers, the workers, live on the estate in what have always been known as "labour lines". The early British planters could not find workers locally so labour contractors collected not just men, but women and children too, from distant parts of India and sent them on boats up the Brahmaputra river which flows through Assam.

The conditions on the long journey were so hazardous that it was not uncommon for half the workers to die before they reached the estates.

Many of today's tea plantation workers are descendants of the people who somehow survived that journey.

Deo Raj says workers are now "looked after from womb to tomb". Apart from their wages agreed by the government - and their homes - they get free rations, wood for cooking and electricity. There is a hospital and a school on the estate too.

This old-fashioned, paternalistic style of management makes workers very expensive but Deo Raj opposes reducing their number by mechanising the tea plucking.

Watching women nimbly plucking the bright green, new leaves off the top of tea bushes, he explained that machines cannot differentiate between stalks and leaves, and went on to say: "A mixture of leaves and stalks, which is what you will get with a machine, does not make good tea."

But now the Tea Estates that Deo Raj supervises may be forced to mechanise because there is a shortage of people willing to pluck tea and maintain the bushes.

He puts this down to the low social status of tea garden work and the survival of another tradition, the designation of the workers as "coolies".

Deo Raj says: "The young people tell us that they may have been born as coolies but they are not prepared to be known as that for the rest of their lives."

However, in an other garden, workers told me that the work provided under the government's comparatively new unemployment scheme was attracting tea garden labour. When I asked why, I was told: "On that scheme you are meant to work but nobody makes sure that you do. Here, they watch you all the time."

Indian tea exports have fallen by 12% in five years

The ever-increasing number of small-holders who grow tea represent another threat to the quality of Assam tea. The small-holders beat the estates on price because they do not have the same high costs. The problem is that they do not match the estates' quality.

There are also estates which do not maintain the quality of their tea. Deo Raj insists that no bush on an estate he supervises should be more than 40 years old because after that the quantity and quality of the leaf declines.

Nevertheless, uprooting and replanting is very expensive, so a number of estate owners retain bushes as long as they produce some leaf, no matter what its quality may be.

Poor quality tea undermines the Assam brand, and it is only because of the brand's reputation for quality that the tea competes with the leaf produced in Kenya and Vietnam where costs are much lower.

So protecting the brand is vital for Indian tea exports, which have fallen by 12% over the last five years.

Deo Raj says: "You can only maintain quality if you manage tea estates as I have seen them managed for the last 50 years."

December 16 2012

"Our good friend and retired Assam planter Dadu Quader makes the relevant comments which the Editor feels should be shown alongside Mark Tully's story about Tea

Ex-BBC India Correspondent Mark Tully's write-up on Assam Tea was most interesting. I had earlier read it on the BBC's internet news. I entirely agree with the comparison he draws between the system of operation prevailing on the tea estates and the ways the military operates. That discipline starting with the 6 a.m. siren through the management, staff and labour putting in a proper day's work over more than a century must have been a major factor in making the Indian tea industry so unique and successful as a leading world agri-business.

Mr Tully known for his professional integrity throughout his long tenure in India is to be commended on his bringing this particular aspect of tea estate management in Assam to public attention. His write-up also serves to bear testimony to the can-do spirit and hard work of the early pioneers and their successors all of whom helped to create a highly productive industry for the Indian nation."


November 1 2012

China Tea Drinking Habits

Here are some comments referring to the article below:

China's production increased over India's in the last 3 years but it is mainly green tea which they export earning more foreign exchange than India.

With Chinese people spread all over the World they have taken to drinking the English way, black tea with milk and sugar. China is importing a considerable amount of black tea from India- .











December 17 2013


This is now working in Cachar Bicrampore producing Electricity on Biomass for
manufacture of Tea

1 MW



December 16 2013

These pictures taken at Bicrampore Tea Estate in Cachar Assam
            it is one of the best Tea Bungalows of this time 

                         It's my pug dog Ginnie and my wife Narola 


December 7 2013

Tea Culture in America

Americans had been enjoying the ritual of sharing a cup of tea since even before
America was in existence. The American Tea culture first arrived in this New World
with the Dutch. The Dutch East India Company was in the business of importing
tea even before the English were aware of its existence. By the late 1630’s tea
was becoming quite fashionable in the Dutch court. As a result, by the end of
the 1650’s, tea culture was avidly being experienced in New Amsterdam, the
future New York. By the time the British occupied the city, and renamed it New
York, the fashion of culture of tea was firmly ensconced.

The story of tea in the Americas begins with the Dutch colony in the New World.
Here the ladies of New Amsterdam would attempt to emulate the aristocracy of
the mother land and re-created a new colony version of the stately service of tea,
complete with the best silver strainers, the finest porcelain cups and pots, and
exquisite wooden tea caddies. By 1690, in Boston, Benjamin Harris had taken
out a license to sell tea to the public, quickly followed by Zabdiel Boylston in 1712.

While tea was purchased throughout the colonies, there was a variety of ways in
which it was prepared and enjoyed. In Salem, for example, the leaves were
boiled to create a bitter brew. They were then served as a vegetable side dish
garnished with butter. Most, however, appear to have served it as an infusion.
By the time of the American Revolution, tea was reportedly drunk everywhere
from the backwoods to the center of sprawling cities.

Tea grew to be immensely popular in the colonies, even once the British
government began to increase the taxes on teas and luxury goods. Many colonists
avoided paying the taxes by simply supporting the market in smuggled tea from
Holland. Thomas Hancock, the uncle of the famous Patriot John Hancock, made
quite a handsome living smuggling tea and selling it to the British navy and army
personnel stationed in the Colony. The colonists, perturbed at having to pay
exorbitant taxes to offset the British debt decided to become more militant. By
1773 patriots rebelled against the British Taxation Acts with the famous Boston
Tea Party. However, similar events occurred in New York, Philadelphia,
Greenwich and Charleston. The end result, besides the American Revolution,
was that tea had fallen out of favor for a while. The likes of Ralph Waldo
Emerson declared: “we have renounced tea”.

For a while, settlers were encouraged to find substitutes for tea such as herbal
infusion. One such infusion was Labrador Tea; however it was not really considered
an equal to tea and was actually toxic in large doses. The newspapers of the day
suggested that Peppermint or sage and even dandelion could pass as a replacement
for tea. Women were asked to take solemn vows to abstain from the evils of tea.
As often is the case, memories soon fail and over time the convictions of
abstinence started to wane. By 1833 tea was again written about in the popular
media of the time. Women were being instructed in the proper ways to prepare
tea. In early cookery books, instructions were given to steep green tea with
boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. By our modern standards, that must
have been a mighty bitter brew. We now understand that green tea is too
delicate to stand a scalding by boiling water and a steep that long would have
been enough to make the tea incredibly bitter. But then, the green tea that was
available to them then had to endure a very long sea voyage and was very
stale to start off with.

As tea re-entered the collective conscience in the newly created United States of
America, Benjamin Franklin proposed that an American Tea Ceremony should be
created. This was in a letter to Congress in 1779. In it he wrote about a special
ceremony in Japan, where he was visiting, in which tea is celebrated and fixed
in ancient custom. He questioned whether Americans might soon develop their
own such traditions. Certainly many early culinary works do reflect on the fact
that tea was ensconced in the culture of the time. Diaries and journals of socialites
do mention the service of tea in their events.

Two important facts have helped to stimulate the resurgence of tea consumption
in America. First was the creation of iced tea, and second was the invention of the
tea bag. Both of these events have their own legends that have developed to
identify the origins of their stories. Legend has it that the first time Iced tea was
served was at the 1904 St Louis Fair. As it was incredibly warm, people were
not interested in drinking hot tea, so Richard Blechynden apparently put ice in
the tea he was serving. People allegedly found this to be very refreshing and as
they kept coming back for more, according to the story, a new drink was invented.

However, there are many references to iced tea being served long before this time.
Many early culinary guides mention adding ice and sugar to tea to create a more
refreshing drink, especially in the south. Many of these date to before the Civil War.
Although it was not as common in other areas, iced tea was certainly very
well-known long before Blechynden got credit for allegedly inventing it. Nearly
ninety percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. today is served iced. The average
American drinks nearly 6.5 gallons of iced tea per year.

With respect to the story of the invention of the tea bag, in 1908, New York tea
importer, Thomas Sullivan, was trying to facilitate selling tea to potential customers,
so he sent the samples in small silk bags. The customers had delighted in the
convenience of the bags, as they thought that they were to steep the tea in them.
When they complained that the subsequent orders did not have the tea placed
in the silk bags, Sullivan realized that they wanted the convenience of the bags.
Early bags were also made using gauze. Sullivan was not the first to sell tea in
bags. The first patent was issued to A.V. Smith on London in 1896. It was not
until 1935 that Tetley began manufacturing tea into bags. By 1968 only three
percent of tea was sold in bags.

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in fine teas in America, mainly
due to the lifting of China’s ban on exports to America in 1971. Since the 1920s
Americans could not get Chinese tea and most Indian teas were sold to a different
market. The teas they did get were specifically blended for iced tea. With China’s
ban lifted, people in the United States begun to experiment with green, white, oolong,
and black teas, and tisanes (herbal teas). American tea consumers have become
increasingly interested in the origins of their tea as the market for global sources
for tea has grown.

Another important factor is the history of immigration to America. Immigration is
a demographic phenomenon that has been a major source of population growth
and cultural change throughout much of the country’s history. Each immigrant
group brings with them their own cultural traditions. This includes a cultural
connection with tea. In 2006, the United States accepted more legal immigrants
as permanent residents than all other countries combined. With this history as
background, the American Tea Ceremony was born utilizing teas grown all
over the world reflecting the melting pot of ethnicity and the diverse cultures
of which the nation’s population is composed.

The American Tea Masters Association has created a tribute to the American Tea
Culture by developing a ceremony to pay homage to it. It harkens to a simpler time,
when one would sit together as a family and share their experiences of the day.
When one slows down to pay attention to the small details in life, one can actually
listen and share in life’s moments. Children can delight to watch the tea infuse
into a swirl of golden and coppery waves and truly appreciate the moment together
with loved ones. A video of the American Tea Ceremony can be found on the
association’s web site at American Tea Ceremony. There is something magical
about pouring hot water over the dry tea leaves and watching the leaves unfurl
and develop to their potential, in a swirl of colored tones. It brings a whole new
sensory approach to drinking tea.


 November 25 2013

Shamol has kindly sent some photos from his room in Darjeeling
It is cold  in late November
           and it looks it, but great memories for some


November 10 2013

BarakValley in Assam

By Anirban Roy

As communication bottleneck is the biggest hurdle for land-locked Cachar Tea, the Tea Board of India is open to the idea of the tea produced in BarakValley in Assam being sold or auctioned in Bangladesh.

Given the poor communication facilities of BarakValley with the rest of the country, tea planters have been eyeing Bangladesh to sell Cachar Tea. The idea was mooted last year at the 41st annual general meeting of Tea Association of India, Barak Valley Branch.

Assam governor J B Patnaik, addressing the AGM, had said that Bangladesh will be a crucial market for Cachar Tea, given the easy communication of BarakValley with the neighbouring country.

MGVK Bhanu, chairman of Tea Board told India Tea in Kolkata that the Tea Board is open to the idea if it helps the tea industry in BarakValley. “It is a good idea worth exploring,” he said, adding that it appears to be a wonderful idea.

Tea is grown in about 36.38 thousand hectares in the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi in BarakValley. The gardens produce about 50 million kgs of tea, commonly known as Cachar Tea.

When asked if Cachar Tea could sell through the new auction centre coming up in Srimangal in Sylhet Division in Bangladesh, Bhanu said, “We will have to look into the modalities and problems associated with it as selling tea outside India will mean export.”

“We will have to find out the India-Bangladesh trade rate agreements and the other intricacies before taking any decision on it. But, prima facie, it sounds like an excellent idea, worth exploring,” the Tea Board chief said.

As Barak river has now been declared a national waterway, the Cachar Tea industry is optimistic of getting transit through Bangladesh, or can also dream of using Ashuganj port in Brahmanbaria district for transit. “Tea Board would always support such initiatives, and facilitate such exports of tea from BarakValley,” he said.

Bhanu, who is a senior IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, said the Tea Board supports Cachar Tea’s demand for transport subsidy. “We feel they have a strong case for transport subsidy, and they should get it,” he said.

The tea companies in BarakValley have been demanding for granting of transport subsidy as sending the made tea to the warehouses or ports in Kolkata is proving costly for the companies. Several other sectors, including cement, iron and steel in northeastern states enjoy transport subsidy facility

September 20 2013


Good project to start working.....


Taking a cue from the tea industry in south India, Assam government is planning to encourage the tea growers in the state to exploit the freely available solar energy in the tea estates. The gardens in the state consume a lot of electricity for production of tea, and very often blamed for the power shortage in the state.

In the south, several tea gardens have already started using the solar energy for tea withering, and this, according to government officials, is significantly reducing the load on power supply.

“In south India, several big tea estates have started to trap solar energy by installing solar panels on the roof of the factories and the offices, and this energy is used for withering the tea leaves,” Mrinal Kanti Choudhury, a senior official of the Assam Energy Development Agency, said.

Choudhury told India Tea that such initiative are very small, but can play a role in the energy sector in the near future. He said harnessing solar power can be beneficial for both the state as well as the tea gardens.

“Such initiatives could be possible in Assam also, and this could be a big help to the power sector in the state,” Choudhury said. According to Assam government data, there are around one thousand tea gardens in Assam, and none of them, at present, are trying to harness the solar power.

Meanwhile, Assam industry and power minister Pradyut Bordoloi told India Tea that the Assam government will try to take a cue from the southern tea industry and will ask the big tea gardens in the state to harness the solar energy.

“At present, we are energy starved, and harnessing the solar power by the tea gardens could be a big boost to the energy situation in the state in the future,” Bordoloi said.


AUG 3 2013

Such a Beautiful Garden.....                          ROHINI

Rohini is located in the Kurseong valley of Darjeeling. The estate was closed for a period of 30 years from 1962 to 1994.
From the odd 1300 Hectares around 28 Hectares is still present. These teas are of the Chinese originand in the second flush produce exquisite muscatel teas. The total are of the garden is around 138 Hectares. Out of this 108 Hectares is young tea. These bushes have planted from 1996 onwards and they have not yet attained maturity. All the bushes are of the highest quality and they produce exquisite
teas all around the year. The garden is divided into four divisions. The lower division is called Jaberhat and is around 24 Hectares. The mid elevation divisions are called Kotidhara and Pailodhora. These two divisions together are around 76 Hectares and it produces very high quality teas. It has been planted with AV2 and T-78 clones mostly. Tukuriya is the highest division at an average elevation of 4400 FT and stretches right up to Kurseong town. This is mostly the old tea area which now today would be more than 100 years old. The entire garden is accessible by road except Pailodhora. The estate has a new factory which incorporates all hygiene and food safety requirements as per the HACCP standard specified by RVA Netherlands.




June 6 2013

Shamol tells us to have a look--it is good--thanks Shamol

Just go onto this site to watch a well run Tea Garden....

April 11 2013

April 4 2013

Here we have some interesting explanations about Tea Today

Click Here to see Adobe Acrobat file--it allows you to change size of print to suit



Christian Science Monitor

Famous bridge in India is in danger of coming
down ... because of spit

Published: Sunday, 20 Jan 2013 | 9:44 PM ET
By: Shaikh Azizur Rahman
Amar Grover | AWL Images | Getty Images
Morning bathers by the Hooghly River with the massive outline of Howrah Bridge filling the skyline in Kolkata, India.

It was first reported in 2010 that the pillars of Kolkata's landmark Howrah bridge were being used as spittoons by pedestrians who chewed gutkha – a tobacco product popular with millions in India.

Engineers who surveyed the cantilever structure then reported that the struts supporting the girders of the bridge had already lost half of their metal casing: The corrosion was apparently caused by acids in the gutkha.

Soon the Lions Club of Howrah launched a "Save Howrah Bridge from Spit" campaign urging people not to spit on the bridge.

The campaign spread across the city of Kolkata, where reddish-brown gutkha stains are visible almost everywhere — pavements, streets, office staircases, business houses, and residential complexes. Prominent citizens of Kolkata joined the campaign in an effort to rid the city of the ugly stains.

Gutkha is a commercially produced pre-packaged mixture of crushed betel nut, tobacco, lime, paraffin, and other "secret" ingredients, many of which are carcinogenic and addictive.

Some brands of gutkha also contain lead, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and cadmium, which are as bad as nicotine. To make its shelf life longer, magnesium carbonate – which is used in fire extinguishers and is a known carcinogen – is also added to gutkha.

Activists reported about a year ago that one-third of men and one-fifth of women across India are addicted to chewing tobacco and gutkha was its most popular form.


DECEMBER 23 2012

Shamol in Naga Land

Shamol has kindly forwarded some photographs which he took
on a recent visit to Nagaland

Tea section Organic


Family Organic Farm ( Jamir)  Longtu village

Vermiculite unit


Y tea on Tilla Plantation

Rubber Plantations



An evening in the farm






Early Morning



 Farm House




Shamol Ghosal sent this  and we thank him

Subject: GIs in Calcutta - circa1947...?

The link to all the photos:


 William Swaine  

Kindly adds to the story

Some of us were not born at that time. seems nothing has changed.

Very nostalgic b/w shots of Calcutta around 1947. You will no doubt recognize
some areas like the Hindustan Building on Chittaranjan Ave.,
Chowringhee, Firpos, New Market, Howrah Bridge, etc

The great automobiles of yesteryears and the trams which still run today. Can
someone tell me where was Howrah Motors located? Bentick St.?
How about the Hamilton Company beside the Indian Red Cross? The New
American Chinese Kitchen - now where is that??
There are a lot of US Army troops in the pictures. Do a single click on one picture
and the corresponding write-up appears. Interesting, hope you enjoy a walk
down memory lane. Hint: I used the pause and then slowly advanced each
frame with "Next" to suit my own tempo.
Click on each slide for a write-up!
Click on the following link.

Soccer team Dooars  1977-78

Thanks to Shamol--but he now has to remember the other names !!!!

A soccer group from the Dooars DBITA 1977-78

Only one identified so far is Shamol himself

Front Row fourth from left 

May 15 2012

Argentinians visit Darjeeling

Bagdogra, May 10: A team of 24 Argentinians today headed back home after gaining the first-hand experience of production process of Darjeeling tea.

The visit of the team members, who are associated with the Argentine Tea School, an institution which trains and certifies tea professionals in the Latin American country, is construed as a testimony to the Darjeeling beverage's increasing popularity across the globe.

The delegation consisted of tea professionals, traders and tea lovers.

"Darjeeling tea is steadily gaining popularity in Argentina and the neighbouring countries. We want to merchandise this unique product among tea drinkers in our country. We are here to know more about Darjeeling tea," Diego Morlachetti, the leader of the team and the co-director at Argentine Tea School, told The Telegraph today before departing from Bagdogra airport.

Diego said Darjeeling tea was fast changing the tea drinking habits of the Argentinians.

"Earlier, they were interested in ready-to-drink tea only. But these days, they want to taste flavoured beverages like Darjeeling tea. The change in the drinking habit has prompted us to visit the region and know in detail about the manufacturing process and other aspects related to the beverage. Latin America in general and Argentina in particular have a huge market for Darjeeling tea," said Diego.

The team stayed in India for a fortnight and visited tea estates in Terai and Darjeeling. Tea exporters here are excited about the Argentinians' positive response.

"So far, Darjeeling tea used to be sent to Latin American countries via Germany. Firms in Germany used to sell our tea at higher prices there," said Rajeev Lochan, a veteran in tea industry and one of the principal exporters of brew in Siliguri.

"Now that these people have visited our gardens and learned about the manufacturing process, we can directly negotiate with importers in South America. As new markets like Argentina and Brazil are found, Darjeeling tea would fetch higher prices overseas

 April 4 2012 

Interesting facts about Stock prices

for the Tea Industry today-

thanks to Shamol for forwarding


Stocks prices of tea plantation companies McLeod Russel and the Goodricke Group, gained 5-9 per cent last week, outperforming the BSE FMCG index, which gained two per cent and the Sensex (nominal gain of 0.2 per cent). This increases their year-to-date gains to 30-50 per cent, mainly driven by improving tea prices. Analysts expect tea prices to tread higher due to production lagging a rising demand and this looks sustainable in the long term. While this is positive for the sector, most analysts are bullish on McLeod Russel due to its size and geographical diversification.

According to sector estimates, production in Assam, which forms 51 per cent of national output and 13 per cent of global production, is down due to deficient rainfall. Says Subrata Basu, president (tea exports and marketing), Jayshree Tea and Industries, "The weather is dry in the northeast and there is no rain, except in some patches. Production in March was 40-50 per cent lower year-on-year and the same in April is estimated to be lower by at least 20 per cent."

It is a similar case in south India, which is witnessing a prolonged dry spell. Though it is too early to conclude that production will decline in calendar year (CY) 2012, since the first flush forms just 10 per cent of total domestic tea production, in case the shortfall is not overcome in the coming months, prices, which remained firm in 2011, would rise further. Currently, average prices are ruling higher by Rs 40-50 per kg at the auction centres (at about Rs 220).



In Rs crore



Net sales



% chg y-o-y



Op. profit



% chg y-o-y



Net profit



% chg y-o-y



Figures are for nine months ended 
December 2011; Source: Companies

Kamal Baheti, chief financial officer, McLeod Russel, says, "We expect FY13 to be good for tea prices, thanks to the lower inventory of last year and rising consumption." Analysts, too, sound optimistic. Prasad Deshmukh, analyst, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a February 27 report, says he expects a strong season for tea prices in CY12, led by continuing global shortages (eight per cent of annual demand), lower inventory in India and lack of recovery in the Kenyan crop from last year's levels.

India's production has been stagnant over three years, while consumption has been rising three to four per cent yearly. Revati Kasture, head of research at Care Research, expects India's output to grow at an average annual 0.42 per cent between years 2012 and 2014, and reach a billion kg by end-2014. This trend of stagnant production and higher consumption is likely to continue for some years. According to Baheti, the gestation period for a new plantation to come up is four to five years. Hence, any substantial increase in production in the short term looks difficult.

McLeod preferred
McLeod Russel, India's largest producer, with 59 gardens (53 in India and six in Uganda) and three factories in Vietnam producing 100 million kg annually, is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of improving prices. Their strategy of acquiring tea gardens in Africa also augurs well.

Says Sanjay Manyal, analyst, ICICI Direct, "The company's bids for two tea gardens in Rwanda will more than triple production from the country and the acquisition would notably contribute to its earnings, as margins from the Rwanda gardens are higher at 50 per cent, compared to McLeod's 28 per cent."

Excluding this bid, the company's sales are expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 11 per cent over 2010-13 and net profit by 17 per cent. Growth in profit could have been faster but for a wage rise in its Assam gardens.

With the rise in prices, the stock has risen from Rs 181 on January 30, 2012, to Rs 280, and looks fairly valued (price/earnings of nine times FY13 estimated earnings).

Goodricke will also gain from higher prices. However, analysts say McLeod continues to be a better investment, as the size and economies of scale matter in a commodity business like this. Goodricke's revenue is less than half of McLeod, while the latter's profits are six-seven times larger. While sales grew 11 per cent each for Goodricke and McLeod in the nine months ended December 2011, both showed exactly opposite profit trends, with Goodricke disappointing and McLeod cheering investors.

Further, McLeod is relatively more diversified (geographically) than Goodricke. However, these factors are also reflecting in Goodricke's lower valuations. Based on annualised profits for the nine months to December 2011, the PE works out to 3.5 times. It also has a healthy dividend record, with the last dividend translating into a yield of three per cent. In this backdrop, investors with some appetite for risk may consider it.

Jayshree Tea & Industries, which derives around 75 per cent of revenue and close to 80 per cent of profits from the tea business, would also gain.

However, the gains will be limited, as it is also present in sugar and chemicals. In the nine months ended December 2011, its nine per cent growth in profit before interest and tax (PBIT) of the tea business was negated by a loss in the sugar business and a 25 per cent drop in chemicals' PBIT. Thus, overall PBIT was flat at Rs 72 crore.



 A series of Pictures given by Shamol

Picture 1

Picture 2


Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6


March 12 2012
We are grateful to Shamol for sending in this very interesting article 
of Goa--thanks Shamol

Subject: ***GOA IN BYGONE DAYS. ***


Dozing under a banyan tree in the noon-day sun, one's thoughts can
well into the past, in Goa. Some flashbacks are presented below
MEDICINAL- From time immemorial, panaceas for all ills have
been our potent local
brews. Whether made from fermented coconut
tree toddy, the juice of cashews
(the fruit) or unusual plums called
"jambul", the preventative and curative
attributes of these liquors are
- In Goa, herbs, roots and leaves have been age-old remedies
for colds,
constipation, loss of appetite, blood pressure, muscular
pains, wounds etc..
Long before chlorophyll was used in toothpastes,
we used guava and mango
leaves or neem tree twigs, to brush our teeth.

But, many a secret remedy was
taken to their graves by our ancestors.-
Leeches were used extensively to control blood pressure problems.
Yes, you lay in bed after the leeches were applied, while they went to
In the process they contributed a "thinning agent" to the blood.
A brine-bath caused the leeches to relinquish their grip when it was
time to
get them off.- Dry-cupping was used effectively to "pull out"
chills in the back. A
vacuum was created when a cottonball in a goblet
was ignited, and when the
goblet was applied to the affected parts it
sucked out the chill.
- An effective cure for jaundice was branding a
person with a red-hot spoon
and applying the yolk of an egg to the
- In parts of Salcete, the remedy for whooping cough was a
special brew
actually concocted from the hindquarters of a fox.
- In conjunction with the above remedies, a panacea
| for all ills was the
"removal" of evil eye. Chillies or alum, hot coals
and a suitable invocation
for divine intervention, formed part of the
- Being possessed by the devil was not an uncommon phenomenon.
Exorcists of all stripes were always on hand to offer their services.
Many Catholic and Hindu priests had a good clientele.- Occasionally
you would find that, because of acrimony, a deceased person
had put
a curse on a plot of land. Bad luck was said to invariably follow
new owner of the land. Certain measures had to be taken to appease
soul of the deceased and neutralise the curse.CONVEYANCES-
Up until the thirties, many rich folks used palanquins, on the shoulders
four bearers, for transportation.
- In the late thirties Goa had an airforce
of exactly one tiny 'plane.
The short, grass landing strip was on the hill
immediately behind the
railway station in Marmagoa. The interesting little
'plane had a sharp
ploughshare in its rear, instead of a wheel. When it
landed, the plough dug
deep into the field and stopped the shuddering
'plane from going over the
cliff. This was like the 'planes on aircraft
carriers today, except that
ours made deep furrows in the field, that had
to be promptly refilled.
During the monsoons, flying was out of the
question as there was no way to
"arrest" the 'plane on a waterlogged
- During the war, gas (petrol) was in very short supply. Buses were
converted to use steam. A boiler occupied the passenger space next to
driver, and the steam contraption provided good, alternative motive
-In the '40s & '50s bus and car parts were virtually unavailable
because of the war or because some vehicles were relics of a
bygone era.
Some cannibalisation of older vehicles was possible. But
the village
blacksmiths came to the rescue, more often than not, by
forging parts on
their primitive anvils, using goat-skin bellows and hot
coals to heat the
metals. How they managed exact tolerances is nothing
short of amazing.
- Then there was the railway. The bridges, like the one
across the Rio Sal
at Margao or the one near Sanvordem, had very low
clearances. Sad to say,
quite a few firemen got decapitated as they were
shovelling coal from the
tender behind the engine, quite oblivious of the
approaching danger
overhead. A stationmaster named Antonio Gomes,
who lost a brother in such a
mishap, is credited with coming up with
an idea that solved the problem. A
string of loose canes was hung from
a trestle, a fair distance from each
bridge. A delinquent fireman got a gentle
early warning tap on the head.
Up to the early 50s, when people from Africa
went on six months' leave to
Goa, their heavy trunks followed them home
by bullock cart, from Marmagoa,
and arrived a day or two later. Many from
Bardez and Ilhas got theirs on
narrow boats propelled by a bamboo pole.
There was a time when Arab dhows were the workhorses that carried cargo
and fro on the Arabian Sea adjacent to our coastline.  During the monsoons
they kept close to shore.  Time and again, the stormy conditions and huge
waves caused the aging ships to break apart and capsize, disgorging their
"valuable" cargo. Eventually, most items that floated --- with parts of thehull
---  ended up scattered on shore. 
Then it was finders keepers, with beach
combers having a field day ! 
Some fishermen were even known to have
"caught" bicycles in their nets.
FOOD & SHELTER- Catching a pig for slaughter
was not always easy. In some villages, the
catcher's reward was the snout,
trotters, ears and tail. Some of these
scraps were for the catcher's dog that
assisted in the chase.
And, it was not unusual to treat all the kids around
to a piece of liver
roasted on an open fire.- Aside from coconut trees, there
are other nut trees (talgude) that are
hard to climb. In some places if monkeys
were taunted enough, they would
pluck the nuts and throw them at you. Not
necessarily the best ones, of
course !- Did you know that if you waded into |
a river, at night, with a pressure
lamp a few inches above the water, fish got
attracted to the light and
seemed stunned? All you had to do was grab them
and put them in your
knapsack.- With the first rains, bottom-feeders in some
ponds make straight for the
banks as if for fresh air. A machete was the tool
of choice for beheading
them and then scooping up the spoils.- Even more
fun was getting behind fishermen's nets, in waist-deep ocean
water, and
pouncing on escaping fish, as the nets were being pulled in.
Fresh mackerel,
roasted in a crackling fire on the beach, was always a treat
for the nose and
- How about the large mussels that cling to the rock-face at the murky
of the Rio Sal, in Betul? Daring young men would descend with coconut
oil in
their mouths and release it when they reached a promising spot. With
visibility improved, they had to fight against time to pry the shellfishloose,
before coming up for air. And they had to have clean-shaven heads or
risk a mussel clamping their "floating" hair and trapping them in a
- Not many Goans know that our traditional old windows were made
with opaque
fish scales in the slats. The scales were imported mainly from
the Far East.
You can still find such scales on the shores of Penang.- And,
did you know that a Papal Bull granted to Portugal was extended to
Goa ? It permitted people to eat meat on days of fasting and abstinence, for

a small "fee" based on one's assets. This was a therapeutic benefit to our bodies
MORE GRISTLE- During World War II, three German ships (Ehrenfels, Drachenfels,
Bramfels) and one Italian vessel (Anfora) sought refuge in our neutral portof
Marmagoa. The Portuguese allowed them to stay provided their radios and
transmitters were dismantled. But the Ehrenfels had a secret transmitter. 
This spy-ship transmitted
intelligence covertly that resulted in massive  losses of British ships and submarines.
In 1943, a clandestine British operation, by a small group of retired officers from
set all the ships ablaze. Most of the skeleton crew on the ships had been lured to a Goan
party on shore ! Not till I read "Boarding Party" by James Leasor, in the June 1980
Reader's Digest did I realise what had caused the blazing inferno I had witnessed.
The related film,"The Sea Wolves", starring Roger
Moore, Gregory Peck, and David
Niven was filmed on location.
--.During WW II, imported goods were hard to come
by. The ingenious Goan
improvised with whatever basic material was at hand.
Grease was made by
warming bees wax(old church candles) in coconut oil and then
allowing the
mixture to cool.- Goan high-grade manganese ore was in great demand
by Japan and Germany
(for the Volkswagen) in the '40s & '50s. On an average day,
forty ore
carriers were loaded by conveyor belt.-- If you grew up in Goa in your
formative years, chances are you were sent
to "Kantaram Escol", where a "Mestre"
drummed Sol, Fa, Do, Re, Mi into your
head and cultivated singing the scales. Since
a false note was related to
hearing, one's ears got twisted until the correct note
emerged !
-- One of the traditional rituals before a wedding was the
Jevonn" (Beggar's meal). The invited beggars mumbled prayer
after prayer,
invoking happiness on the couple, and hosts were flushed with
pride for
being kind to the poor. The fatted domestic pig had been slaughtered,
and quartered on an improvised mat made of coconut leaves. The beggars
feasted on the choicest parts -- and on other tasty dishes-- while thebride, groom
and helpers ate the meagre meat on the bones, a meal called
"addmass". A lesson
in humility perhaps. The meal was served on "plates"
made of jackfruit leaves held
together by coconut leaf ribs. Coconut "fenni"
flowed freely and elicited a praying
frenzy. Alongside the "plate" was a
local "beedi" and a matchbox. Leftover food
was wrapped up in the leaf plate and taken
home. ( We knew about a doggy-bag
long before it was adopted by the West!)
-- Then there was the old purification
ceremony, practised by some, of
bathing the bride-to-be in coconut milk a day
before her nuptials.
Friends and relations brought simple gifts like a comb,
curry-pot, knife,
ladle or piece of cloth, for the bride. These were presented in
songs, by the older women. (Makes one wonder if present-day bridal
showers originated here)
The origins of the last two customs are lost in the
sands of time. It is
conceivable that they were vestiges of some Hindu rituals. ---
There was a
time when the village tailor and his assistant could be hired for a
day or
more, to come to the house and make made-to-measure shirts, pants or
from only a picture.  You supplied the material, thread and buttons
and he
did the rest.  Because buttons were expensive, where it did not matter
were made of rolled cloth, by the assistant.--- Carbon paper was unheard
of at the time.  To transfer a design/pattern
you poked holes in it, placed it on the
fabric and brushed ash or flour over
the holes. Then all you had to do was to
connect the dots !  Charcoal was
the chalk of the day.--- In some villages, a village
tradesman such as a barber was allowed to
use a community field to grow paddy
for himself.  In return, he had to give
the "gavnkars" a shave or haircut free.

Why India Works - written by internationally-acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapoor.

A greater ‘hole in the wall' you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying
"Cellphoon reapars" barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu
Market in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure
made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy
and uncleaned.
‘Can you fix a Blackberry ?"
‘Of course, show me"
"How old are you" ‘Sixteen'
Bullshit. He was no more than 10. Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year
old in unwashed and torn T shirt and pyjamas! At least if I buy a new one, they would
extract the data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.
‘What's wrong with it?"
‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It's kind of stuck and I cannot operate it"
He grabs it from my hand and looks at it
"You should wash your hands. Many customers have same problem. Roller ball get
greasy and dirty, then no working'
Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10 days,
I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back..
" You come back in one hour and I fix it'.
I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid's hands for an hour. No way.
"Who will fix it?"
‘Big brother'
‘How big is ‘big brother?'
‘big .... Umm ..thirty'
Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.
‘What problem?' He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier
hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.
‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash your hand
before you use this'. What is this about me washing my hands suddenly??
19 year old big brother rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out
a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper. Original part? I doubt it. But
by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple
of screwdrivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.
"How long will this take?"
"Six minutes"
This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry
service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an
assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his grubby cramped
work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish
into virtual space. People crowd around to see what's happening. I am not
breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an adventure and literally have
to stop myself grabbing my precious Blackberry back and making a quick
escape. But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my Blackberry back. He
had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the whole phone. Taken it
apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2
minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such
hostility that he stepped back.
‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?"
‘backed up?'
‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up'
‘You tell me that now?'
But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching
laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show. I asked him how much.
‘500 rupees' He ventured uncertainly. People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation.
That's $10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was about to spend on a new
Blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his
‘high price' but calmly paid him. Much to the disappointment of the expectant crowd
‘do you have an I-Phone ? Even the new ‘4D one ?
‘no, why"
‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app' or film you want. I give you 10 film on
your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee'
I went home having discovered the true entrepreneurship that lies at what we call
the ‘bottom of the pyramid'. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what
can you say about two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 10 and 19 that set
up a ‘hole in the wall' shop and can fix any technology that the greatest technologists
in the world can throw at them. I smiled at the future of our country. If only we could
learn to harness this potential.
‘Please wash your hands before use' were his last words to me. Now I am feeling
seriously unclean.


March 5 2011 

Shamol tells me that these two articles came from Linkedin --enjoy



Tea Industry - living in the dark ages?

Looking at the tea industry in various countries it remains evident that there is a total lack of innovation be it in the field or to the consumer. How can this be turned round? How can we put the 'zing' back in tea? 

Tea (green and black) needs to be reinvented otherwise the producers will slowly be forced out of the business as it is now. The impact in 3rd world producer counties will be drastic.

,I am really happy to read your concern vis-a-vis tea industry...what I don't fully agree with is the pessimism you showed regarding innovativeness finding place in the industry, we have this going in India considerably and longing for it is growing day by day. With nearly four percent consumer being added every year means big for us,so innovation and growth is going to be the 'key word' now...tea has to remain alive even if the the speed of innovation remains slow!!

Sometimes I wonder if at all Tea is what the "3rd World Countries" produce. 

Some of the American and even now European countries are flooded with tea products which have external flavors added to them. The quality of tea required for to make these products is very ordinary, however the margins are so thick that plenty of money is being spent on these brands to make them a huge success. 

Even the conventional consumers mind is being conditioned to alter the image of tea from what it used to be. 

The tea market needs to reward quality which sadly is not the case. Also the realization per kgs needs to increase dramatically which will lead to availability of funds which can support innovation and development at the tea estate level. 

In my short lived life in tea estates the first thing I have realized is that it takes a lot of time and effort to change the demography of the tea estate dramatically. The quality of cultivar which is the most important input for us in the entire cycle takes up to almost 12 years to mature at an elevation of 6500 FT in Darjeeling. 

Now unless the old fashioned tea I means "Classics" come back into fashion and becomes the highest consumed category of tea beverage, I feel that it would be difficult to change things in the industry especially in the tea estates. 

Also can you let us know exactly what the innovation you think can be done at the estate level?

 Have been following the trail of comments and I must say that I don't quite agree with your views on lack of innovation in the tea industry. Tea producers are constantly upgrading their planting material with higher yielding clones and using a combination of bio control measures along with chemical usage to combat pest and diseases. I would say that innovation and improvisation on techniques in Tea is phenomenal and the proof of this pudding is in appreciating the fact that Tea producers and still able to run their gardens meaningfully despite increasing costs and poor export returns. It is the initiative and innovation of the Industry that has made it a sustainable crop....Now in terms of value addition and package teas...quite a few companies have marketing spiced/flavored teas teas. A popular drink these days is bottled cold tea enriched with ginseng and fruit flavors.
Tea continues to a favorite beverage in all households and internal demand in only on the would say that

Tea is here to Stay.......


I think the point is being missed here.
The problem with a multitude of small producers around the globe not knowing how to 'market' their product is the biggest issue. On the the'farm' there is innovation - long term - but the method of tea manufacture is staid and old. For example the tea industry transports the most expensive 'compost' around the world incurring unnecessary expense along the supply chain. After all it is not the tea leaf that is consumed but the essence that is created in manufacture. It is time for the industry to start looking at more innovative ways to make 'tea' and to maximise on quality.
I agree with everything you mention about increasing costs and innovation need to maintain a sustainable crop but there are too many links in the chain between the factory and the consumer. After all tea is a finished product at the factory gate but the product is being bastardised by blending with low quality teas to satisfy the brand profitability. Consumers around the world do not know what a good tea is and this is very pertinent in the fast moving 1st world consuming countries. Iced tea and flavoured teas are not really new innovations as they have been around for a while now and the fruit and herbal teas are becoming a major competitor.
The challenge for the farmer is to get his fresh product to the consumer in a condition that will improve consumption. I make it a point to drink tea everywhere I travel and to be frank most of the mainstream teas offered to the consumer are flat and old plus poor quality and therefore do not encourage one to have that extra cup. On the other hand M&S in the UK get their teas from Kenya and Assam in a vacuum packed form to retain the freshness. The teas are blended in the UK and then vacuum packed for the shelf. As a result the quality and freshness is maintained and encourages one to have another cup improving consumption.
I agree with you that tea is here to stay and in India this is very pertinent with the internal market as the driving force. However I am looking at tea as a global product where the same does not apply.

December 27 2010
Shamol has once again come up with an interesting story
It is from the Hindu Business Line newspaper published in Kolkata
The article is written by Santanu Sanyal and discusses the interview
he had with J Thomas company Chairman Ashok Batra

Kolkata, Dec 26 2010

The world's first public tea auction started in Kolkata (then Calcutta) on December
27, 1861. R Thomas & Company, which later became today's J Thomas & Company
Pvt. Ltd, was the auctioneer. As J Thomas & Company enters 150 th year of operation
today, its Chairman, Mr Ashok Batra, discusses with Business Line, various issues
facing tea broking business.

How it is like heading a company engaged in tea broking business for the past 150 years?

A bit of history first. The original company did not start as a tea broking firm. In 1776,
Thomas Marten & Company, which after several changes became J Thomas & Company,
started in Calcutta as broker of indigo, jute and shellac. The world's first public tea
auction was organised in Calcutta by R Thomas & Company on December 27, 1861.
The company later became J Thomas & Co. Pvt Ltd.

Ours is a unique firm in more ways than one. It is the largest and oldest tea auctioneer
in the world, handling about 200 million kg of tea annually. Maintaining this leadership
position continuously for 150 years has not been easy. It has been possible not only
by the company's large pool of trained and expert tea tasters and auctioneers, but also
by its accent on ethics and integrity. The company is uniquely structured, with current
working employees being the shareholders. This ensures independence, transparency
and professionalism, while empowering employees. 

How many auction centres does it have?

We operate in all six tea auction centres - three each in north and south India, with
head office in Kolkata. We're also a major coffee auctioneer through our outfit in
Bangalore and act as procuring agent for rubber .We also provide varied consultancy
services for the tea industry.

You yourself have been tea broker all your life. How do you see the change over the years?

I joined this company as a management trainee in 1972, fresh from college. I became
the Chairman this April after serving various positions in different places, both in
north and south India. Till 1984, the sellers were at liberty to sell their teas in whichever
way they thought correct - direct exports, private sales and sale through the auction
system. Both the auction system and private sales had, and still have, their own
distinct advantages. Before 1984, close to 50 per cent of the tea produced in the
country was sold through the auction system. In 1984, Tea Marketing Control Order
was issued. Tea Board ruled that 70 per cent of the country's production must be
routed through the auction system but exemptions were granted to tea for exports,
packet tea and instant tea. The order was in force till 2000.

Why was it withdrawn? Wasn't the objective achieved?

The withdrawal of TMCO was in tune with the Union Government's policy of economic
liberalisation. The objective was by and large achieved. At one point, the auction
system handled nearly 80 per cent of the total production, gradually declining to
75 per cent, then 70 per cent and finally stabilising at around 67/68 per cent.

What is the present figure?

Around 50 per cent; similar to the pre-1984 level. But the volume is now much larger
due to increased production.

What is your market share?

Last year, our market share was around 40 per cent, 200 mkg out of a total 500 mkg
offered in the auction system. Last year, the total production was 979 mkg, likely to
be lower by 20-25 mkg this year. Out share too will drop to around 36/37 per cent.

About the tea brokers in the country

Most brokers are active in one auction centre, or at best in two to three centres. Ours
is the only company which has presence in all six centres. The oldest tea broking
firm in Kochi, Forbes, will be a little over 60 years old. Over the years, many old
firms folded their operations such as W S Cresswell, A W Figgis, Best Tea Brokers,
Tamil Nadu Tea Brokers and recently, Carritt Moran.

What is your view on e-auction?

Like almost everything else in today's world, tea auctioning too must change with
times. These days everybody wants speed in payment and delivery. Right now,
the e-auction is in force in all auction centres in South India, and at Siliguri and
Guwahati centres in North India. In Kolkata, CTC and Dust varieties are fully in
electronic mode, only Orthodox and Darjeeling varieties are left out. In Kolkata,
export teas by and large are still under the old manual system. We understand
a move is afoot to bring Orthodox under the e-auction from the next season but
nothing has yet been decided about Darjeeling. At the national level, I believe
about 300 mkg are now sold through the e-auction system.

Why Kolkata a laggard?

Unlike other centres, where e-auction system is fully in place, the system being
followed here is slightly different. This is presumably because the entire rules
have not yet been fully implemented. But then any new system takes times to stablilise.

Any comment on the tea price trend?

The prices will be buoyant for next three to five years. We're very bullish about it.
The tea industry is in for a good run. This will be especially true of all varieties of
good quality tea, not only orthodox but also good CTC teas. Frankly, poor quality
teas have little future. The consumers are very discerning these days.

What is the biggest challenge facing the tea broking community?

The brokers must constantly update themselves to be in tune with the changing
requirement of the trade. They have to be quicker, faster, more transparent. They
need to innovate, think on their feet and must always be one step ahead of their
seller and buyer clients. We, in J Thomas, always try to address these issues.

August 5 2010
Shamol tells us this is a
Must watch and you will find this interesting
Here is a website with some lovely photographs of Calcutta during WWII.

November 29 2009

Again we have to thank Shamol Ghosal for giving us this look at the past

Old Photographs from Indian History

The daughter of an Indian maharajah
Seated on a panther she shot, sometime during 1920s.  

A British man gets a pedicure from an Indian servant .

The Grand Trunk Road , built by Sher Shah Suri,
Was the main trade route from Calcutta to Kabul

A group of Dancing or nautch girls began performing
with their elaborate costumes and jewelry

A rare view of the President's palace and the 
Parliament building in New Delhi

Women gather at a party in Mumbai ( Bombay ) in 1910

An aerial view of Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi , 
built between 1650 and 1658.

The Imperial Airways 'Hanno' Hadley Page passenger airplane
carries the England to India air mail, stopping in Sharjah to refuel .

A group from Vaishnava, a sect founded by a Hindu mystic.
His followers are called Gosvami-maharajahs



October 24 2009

Again we have to thank Shamol for this article

"Walks back to things Past"

An interesting article from the Telegraph of Calcutta

  Click here to read the article

February 16 2009
Once again we have to thank Shamol for his contributions with these interesting pictures

Tea Flower

Tea farm

Ready for Puja

Chai Garam




January 15 2008

We are once again indebted to Shamol Ghoshal for 
sharing these excellent pictures of the Sikkim State 
with us 


Gangtok Sikkim

Beautiful Orchids

More Beautiful Orchids
and more and more Beautiful Orchids


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December 23 2007
Three photos of the Bicrempore Bungalow in Cachar
kindly sent in by Shamol for us to enjoy

This Bicrempore  bungalow belongs to North Cachar Tea company 
                            located in Cachar Assam


October 19 2007
We are indebted to Shamol for forwarding the pictures of 
Green tea production

Baby boiler: Used to generate steam for green tea manufacture

Roaster; used to roast the green leaf with steam 
produced in the baby boiler

Women sorting the Finished product

Kacha Ghoogi: Used to sift the leaf after the first roll

Tea growing


March 4 2007

   A sad tale -- A Bridge blasted by militant bomb recently in Assam

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Going back 100 years taken out  yesterday (March 3 2007)
in Dibrugarh   Khagorijan T.E.


September 18 2006

     Pens..... or should we call them computers of the future.. !!
We are indebted to Shamol for sending this amusing look into the future

Look closely and guess what they could be... ?


Are they pens with cameras??




Any wild guesses?No clue yet?

Ladies and gentlemen... Congratulations! ?

You've just looked into the future...Yep that's right! You've just seen something that will replace your PC in the near future.


Here is how it works: ?



In the revolution of miniature computers, scientists have made great developments with bluetooth technology.. . This is the forthcoming computers you can carry within your pockets . ? 




 This "pen sort of instrument" produces both the monitor as well as the keyboard on any flat surfaces from where you can carry out functions you would normally do on your desktop computer




Can anyone say, "Good-bye laptops!"


September 18 2006

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