Bedi - Ranga


After completing schooling in Kashmir I joined St. Stephens college, Delhi in 1950

Enjoyed college as a new experience but academics was just not my cup of tea. After a lazy and disinterested two years at college I dropped out and joined Escorts Farm Mechanisation, Ferguson tractor concessionaires in India. I was assigned to their central workshop where I spent most of my time grinding engine valves and fitting piston rings for tractor engines being overhauled.

Escorts transferred me to their training school meant to train Ferguson tractor owners, drivers and operators how to operate the tractors with the complete set of implements and familiarise them with maintenance procedures. After nine months of this experience  was persuaded to take charge of the family lands in Punjab. I lived in the village in a mud hut with none of the basics like electricity, running water etc, employed an eighteen years old lad to cook for me and a tractor driver. We as a team planted out a significant area with Wheat. The crop came up beautifully and just a few weeks short of harvest swarms of Locusts descended and ravaged crops in the area. That put an end to my stint on the family lands. Determined to follow a profession that kept me out doors I gave farming another try six months. Unfortunately, that project folded up so I was back with my parents in Delhi on the verge of depression.

 An acquaintance suggested I try my luck to join the tea estates in Eastern India. A school mate of mine had just joined Grindlay’s Bank in Calcutta. I went to Calcutta and requested him to get me a list of Tea companies and their addresses, also names of those who head the tea department. A week later armed with the list I began calling on the tea companies in alphabetic order. I persevered in spite of beig told that I was unlikely to get a job unless I had a reasonable reference. To cut a long story short at the end of two weeks I had three job options, Balmar Lawrie in their Calcutta ware house, Brooke Bond in their Calcutta packaging factory and James Finlay on the Estates. I joined Finlays who assigned me to the London companies, Borhat and Achabam,  Started my career in tea in August 1956 at Borhat Tea Estate in Naharkatia Assam.

Being the first Indian to join the company each move of mine was carefully watched. I was assigned to the factory by Pat Carnegie the manager . At the time the factory was working 18 hours a day and my orders were to open and close the factory with short intervals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 1957 saw me posted to Achabam. Within a few months of being in Achabam I was transferred to Jamguri estate in Golaghat district for a short period of three months to superwise planting from November to January. Bill Brett the senior most manager of the company had a reputation of being a tyrant. Brett refused to accept an Indian Assistant. The company responded by informing him that no one else was available, it was Bedi or no body till his Assistant Avetoom returned from Furlough. Reluctantly Brett accepted my posting. My senior colleagues at Borhat and Achabam predicted that Brett would have me out of a job or I would be so miserable that I would quit with in a couple of months. I received rather a cold reception on my arrival in Jamguri. First week was dotted with a few crisp orders from Brett. I had hardly done six weeks when Brett called me to the office to tell me that he was writing to Finlay’s to say that I would have to continue to work at Jamguri and will not be released for return to Achabam. I remained at Jamguri till Bretts retirement in March 1960.

 I was given my first acting at Achabam in 1961. My next acting was Jamguri in 1962. This estate became my permanent billet when Aubry Holmes, the manager, passed away while on Furlough in England. Remained at Jamguri till 1965 where after the estate was sold. I moved to Achabam as a Manager and was there till 1972. Moved to Borhat in 1972. Left Borhat in 1974 to join Bush Tea Company Calcutta. Bush tea were tea buying agents for J. Lyons Ireland, Lyons Tetley and Twinings U.K. Spent six years with Bush tea in Calcutta as a tea buyer and blender. 

Honorary positions held: 

Chairman, Naharkatia Circle, Assam Branch Indian Tea Association 1968 – 1972, President Naharkatia Club 1967 to 1974, 

Chairman Assam Branch Indian Tea Association (Zone 1) 1972 to 1974

Bedi & Bedi Pvt

 In February 1980 founded Bedi & Bedi Pvt. Ltd at Bangalore with the specific objective of producing new concept tea manufacturing machines. During my last six years on the estates in Assam I was obsessed by the desire to do something to modernise tea processing machinery. A subject virtually ignored by our Tea Research institutes and well established Indian tea machinery manufacturers. Old salads in new dressings were the order of the day.

Bedi & Bedi commenced operations in February 1980.Our first project was to develop and produce a Fluidised Bed Tea Dryer. A drying concept well established in the pharmaceutical industry. Major R&D and innovation was required to apply this principal to tea drying as uniform particle size was a pre requisite. In the case of CTC or Leg Cut teas the particle size varies from dust to brokens. The company succeeded in overcoming this barrier and installed their first Fluidised Bed Dryer at Craigmore estate in the Nilgiris (South India). This machine cut fuel cost by 50% and produced tea equivalent if not better than conventional tea dryers. This apart the machine could be attached to existing heaters, had minimum moving parts compared to tray circuit conventional dryers.

Bedi and Bedi have their Fluidised Bed Dryers working in North and South India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Srilanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Papua Newguinea and Vietnam. Bedi and Bedi was the first Indian company to set up TWO turnkey tea factories, Warrawau in Papua Newguinea and Phuben in Vietnam

The company won export performance awards from the Government of India in 1994-95 and 1996-97.

The following new concept principles were developed;

New concept continous withering equipment.

Withered  leaf pre conditioners for orthodox and CTC manufacture.

 The company developed a totally revolutionary manufacturing procedure from withering to CTC or Leg cutters. Introduction of this procedure and machines increased cuppage by 14%. 

The company also worked on utilizing waste heat from heater castings and flu gases.

Thanks to zero funding for Research and Development of tea machinery from the Tea Board, the Plantation Ministry, Research Institutes and refusal of banks to grant loans for this purpose all the above developments have remained in storage.

I am now 86 years old, have gradually fazed out all manufacturing activity over the years and have now fully retired.



Herewith an Article I wrote in February 2006 when the industry had hit rock bottom.

I have choosen to blame the producers for the state of affairs prevailing at the time as they have passed the buck far too long. The situation today is not too different, may be worse.

I have written articles printed in Tea and Rubber mail in the ninetees and early 2000.


                                                                        Calling 100!

                                          Emergency In The Indian Tea Industry

                     Numerous Estates Locked out, closed, even abandoned, others squealing 

                     Under mandatory default and debt!!



Callous and Unsympathetic Government, Owners siphoning out resources, Uncooperative labout unions fomenting trouble, Conniving brokers and Rigged Auctions?

PASS the BUCK, point accusing fingers. Our bureaucrats are masters of this art no longer, the TEA PRODUCER snatched the crown and what’s more embellished it with a halo. Don’t blame anybody. Take a deep breath, a hard long look at YOURSELF, your Tea Research Institutes and last but not least the jewel in the crown, the great Indian Tea Board.

My association with the industry began in 1956 as a Brown Sahib Planter. Moved to Kolkata in 1974 and observed the workings of tea buying, blending, packaging, brokers and traders for six years. Moved to Bangalore in 1980 to start my own enterprise with the prime motive of developing Tea Processing Machinery based on new concepts. On the 50thanniversary of my association with the industry I have accorded myself the right to let THE CAT AMONGST THE PIGEONS.


A Thumb Nail assessment of the Industry’s revered Institutions:

You, Production Institution, Tea Research Institutes and the Indian Tea Board, You will be dealt with – Last but not least.


These temples of Tea learning priested by eminent Scientists have worked tirelessly, at their own pace, analysed and atomized structure of our regional soils, introduced vegetative propagation with commendable results, in terms of quality and crop. The devotees of these temples were fed the ‘Prasad’ of their achievements through discourses in dribs and drabs. YOU assigned your junior assistants and anyone conveniently spareable to bring home what was imbibed during a few days of learning and frolicking. Shlokas chanted by Temple priests are well above the understanding or comprehension of the devotees. Similarly, discourses of eminent Scientists replete with Botanical, Biological and Technical jargon bolstered by statistics echoed in the auditorium for lack of absorption. They went like this:

“Tea leaves contain a number of bioactive molecules, which confer health properties on tea. Polyphenols or flavonoids, most prominent of which are catechins and their derivatives, are the most abundant, biologically most reactive moleculars and are responsible for most of the health-giving properties of tea. Other bioactive molecules are amino acids like theanine, proteins, caffeine, vitamin C, carbohydrates, polysaccharides, and lipids. In a tealeaf, catechins reside in the cell sap while oxidative enzymes are located in the cell wall”.

On return from these refreshing discourses the now enlightened planter viewed his tea sections as Sunflower fields. Undeniable achievements all around. Let us ask ourselves, did the average farmer who brought in the Green Revolution and Operation Flood know anything about the genetics of the Seed or the biological workings of the Cow?

With quality and crop on a canter what happened to manufacture/tea processing? A critical aspect of tea production, was it lost in the aura of sunflower fields? Mckercher, a company Engineer, spent years developing the C.T.C machine established the Cut, Tear and Curl cuppage per kilo mantra. C.T.C. Tea gained rapid acceptance in the forties. Twenty years later our temples of Tea learning produced the Mctear Rotorvane that CRUSHED (not CUT) the hell out of leaf, lacerated the stem to produce super raw-material for fiber. Adding insult to injury, the Rotorvane was recommended as a preconditioner for C.T.C. Abudant Fiber content in Rotorvane/C.T.C. Tea resulted in prolific use of winnowers and fiber extractors. Did it occur to You, that every handling results in loss of bloom and is detrimental to liquor. If the CUT element of the Cut, Tear and Curl mantra was ignored, was it on grounds of Quality, Cutting capacity per hour or the financial advantage the Rotorvane brought by eliminating the batch process of rolling? 

Was the Rotorvane accepted at the expenses of quality? Ask YOURSELF! Suffice to say that top quality producers like Jorehaut, Amguri, Dekari and numerous others didn’t touch it with a barge pole for years till economic considerations forced them to compromise quality.

Where did the concept of Rotorvane come from?

In the early fifties the London Tea Association commissioned WILLIAM TULL an Engineer (unconnected with tea) as a Consultant with a specific brief suggestions on “Automation of Tea Manufacture and New Concepts”. The Rotorvane fell squarely in the Automation category.

Orthodox Rollers of various designs and dimensions, Continuous Tray Driers, Sorters etal, old salads in new dressings, were dished out from our Tea research altars. The first truly New Concept Driers came from private enterprise in the early Eighties. Have YOU ever questioned or been concerned about zero NEW CONCEPT developments during the last twenty-five years or the preceding twenty years?


In 2006 your Tea Processing Equipment designs date back a century almost to the days of the Boston Tea Party. Heaters: 46% heat transfer efficiency, a national waste of precious and expensive mineral resources, Jackson type Orthodox Rollers: a close competitor, CTC’s: circa 1940 vintage.


One Line of Rotorvane/CTC consumes enough energy energy (H.P) to get an aircraft airborne. This power and fuel wastage at crippling cost and YOU have the gall to point a finger? The measures you took to overcome have resulted in India losing its status as the BEST QUALITY TEA PRODUCER IN THE WORLD. It is amusing, you still think you are. Wake up my friend and accept that you are victim of your own follies.


IT IS NEVER TOO LATE: I reiterate that our Research Institutions have done a commendable job in the field albeit compromises have been made to suit economic feasibility. A Research establishment is meant to find the Goose that lays the golden egg then work towards sustaining it. Cost accounting and Research are two paradigms. It is embarrassing to mention their contribution to New Concept Tea Processing Equipment.



Just a few sentences to enumerate achievements of this Institution would be adequate. Suffice to say that promotion of Indian Tea should be taken away completely to lighten its burdens. Let it perform the task of correlating statistics, issuing licences, granting scholarships and disbursing subsidies.

Tea promotion should be handled by professionals not relegated officialdom to whom foreign jaunts are a prized perquisite. The Indian stall at the International Tea Convention at Hangzhou, China, in September 2005 should be enough to convince the powers that be. The stall had a counter six feet long with a dozen 500grms tins of branded Indian tea. There was not one ounce of loose tea to show what Indian tea looks like. The stall was attended by a old Chinese lady hired locally who had no knowledge of Indian tea. In contrast Chinese producers had the most elaborate and informative stalls, some even dishing out samples.

I venture to make a few suggestions for your consideration:

Constitute a panel of Tea Manufacture Gurus and invite anybody that has New Concepts in Tea manufacture to bare the principle before them. Be it a mechanic in Howrah, or a multinational – provide a level playing field. Let the panel assess the Concept and if accepted, fund its development BY THE CONCEPTUALISER. Members of the C.C.P.A. should fund this exercise.

In the meanwhile some thoughts on the subject of practical manufacture:



Grant you the right to practice the standard of plucking of your choice. Much has been said about leaf handling in the pluckers fist, transportation field to factory, handling at the factory to avoid leaf damage (crushing, tearing or otherwise disfiguring). To me any leaf in its fresh and green stage is NOT damaged even if it is crushed, torn or disfigured. Let us keep it in this state. Our institutions of Tea learning have scientifically established that a 14 to 16 hour chemical wither is essential to adequately exploit the liquoring characteristics of the leaf. Let us accept this as a gospel. Take your existing trough, load it 24 inches, blow ambient air to remove latent heat for 2 to 3 hours, throttle airflow to levels that will ensure no physical wither takes place. Store the leaf in this manner and you will find that crushed, damaged, torn leaf WILL NOT OXIDIZE. At the end of the chemical wither period 14/16 hours you will have a trough of fresh green leaf with insignificant discolouration of what today constitutes damaged leaf. This will not be even 1% of the weight of the leaf stored.

Develop a Wilting Machine on a Rotary principle to wilt the leaf to desired levels within one hour using high hygrometric differences. In Rotary principle high hygrometric differences do not necessarily lead to inordinate rise in leaf temperature. Experiments have shown that condensation of the leaf surface takes care of this. Loosely fed leaf into a Rotary principle ensures each shoot comes in for individual treatment resulting in an even wither/wilt. 



Experience has shown that a well-maintained efficient Orthodox Roller after 3 rolls achieves no more than 55% cell rupture. In the case of Rotorvane/CTC cell rupture under ideal conditions does not exceed 77% in the leaf and 48 to 50% in the stem.

In this day and age, can we look at means other than brute force to cell-rupture targeting 95%. Let us not forget that the tea crop does not necessarily have to be measured in terms of kilos. Price is determined by cups per kilo. Let us for a change treat cups per kilo as an objective. If an aircraft breaking the sound barrier can shatter windowpanes, surely we can find scientific ways to rupture cells in a Tea Shoot.


These is no time for recrimination and post-mortems and passing the buck. Let us get on with it with a sense of urgency for Your sake and India’s. Over the years You have invoked the Lord and all the deities that represent HIM. If he could speak he would have told you to enlist an exorcist. 

Let the Presidents and Chairmen of the various Tea Associations take a chapter out of London Tea Association book and look for a William Tull. In the weanwhile, for enlightenment, peruse his report and the numerous suggestions he gave on New Concepts in Tea Manufacture. 



I have fortified myself against brick bats that this view may attract.

Ranga Bedi

Bangalore. 17thFebruary 2006