Need to Know (Dec. 16, 2013)

What tea professionals need to start the week.

Sunday was International Tea Day and today is a special anniversary for Americans as it marks the 240th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party… Shri M.G.V.K. Bhanu confirmed Sunday that he will soon depart as Chairman of the India Tea Board to take a government post in Assam… Trend-spotting is all the rage this time of year and McCormick Spice Co. sees a bright future for tea as a culinary ingredient… Euromonitor International takes a global view of non-alcoholic beverages, ranking the growth of ready-to-drink tea in South America among the five most important trends… At the India Tea Association’s 120th annual gathering Sunday, President A.N. Singh announced a trade mission to Russia in May to re-establish India’s former prominence with the world’s largest tea importer. 

Boston Tea Party Re-enactment
Boston Tea Party Re-enactment

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum will bang the drums and fill the streets tonight in a boisterous re-enactment of the act of civil disobedience that marked the beginning of the American Revolution. Volunteers in costume recount the rhetoric for tourists seated in the Old South Meeting House before marching to the waterfront. There they board replicas of the merchant ships that landed in the fall of 1773 and toss overboard styrofoam representations of the history-making shipment of 340 chests of tea weighing 350 pounds. Click this link to see last year’s re-enactment. So raise a cup of tea to those brave folks in Boston and the colonies.

For more about the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum: “A Social History of Tea: Tea’s Influence on Commerce, Culture & Community,” a publication of Benjamin Press, available through Elmwood Inn, as well as from retailers and booksellers across the U.S. and U.K. Learn more about colonial tea history on Bruce Richardson’s Tea Masters blog. 

International Tea Day is celebrated largely in the tea producing regions of the world with activities in Russia, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Tanzania, Uganda and Indonesia. It originated in 2005 as a means of promoting tea and was first celebrated in New Delhi where a very successful gathering was followed by a similar gathering in Sri Lanka the following year. Celebrants give thanks for the annual harvest and labor unions and trade associations host rallies and seminars. It is a reminder that the two billion people who drink tea daily owe thanks to 20 million who cultivate and process tea. Tea is valued at $90 billion globally and demand continues with much of the growth occurring in tea-producing countries. 


KOLKATA, India – India Tea Board Chairman Shri M.G.V.K. Bhanu announced Sunday that he will return to Assam in the New Year. “It is a wonderful experience here, but I am returning to Assam as my services are required there,’’ Bhanu told The Hindu Dec. 11. He made the announcement public at the general meeting of the Indian Tea Association Sunday.

His date of departure has not been announced and it is not known who will replace him. His five-year appointment began Nov. 14, 2011 and would have ended in Nov. 2016. Bhanu, who holds a Master’s degree in physics, was commissioned as an IAS officer in 1985 in the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. He spent several years with the Department of Space Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources. In the IAS he built a reputation as a successful deputy commissioner of north-central Assam’s Sonitpur district from 1994 to 1997. According to news account “he was able to clean up the district headquarters in Tezpur, without the local MLA Brindaban Goswami of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) standing in the way.” He is likely to return to Assam as principal secretary to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Bhanu’s unscheduled departure may delay several projects initiated during the last two years. During that time he established Tea Councils of North India and South India and Bhanu favors joining several regional bodies into a national tea auction. Bhanu was well traveled outside India and served as vice-chairman of the International Tea Committee (ITC), a global tea body for development of the tea industry.

The IAS officer is also popular in the tea circuit across the globe speaking at many conferences and leading delegations to China, Sri Lanka, encouraging trade with Pakistan and Russia.

Source: India Tea, The Hindu

KOLKATA, India – A delegation from the India Tea Association (ITA) will travel to Russia in May in hopes of increasing exports to this tea-thirsty bloc of countries.

“Russia is a big market and has got huge potential,” said ITA President A.N. Singh during the association’s 120th annual gathering. Total exports from India are estimated at 216 million kilos, up from 214 million kilos in 2012.

Russia (CIS) annually imports 170 million kilos from several countries. CIS was formerly the largest market for India’s tea but now relies on Sri Lanka which sends about 50 million kilos annually, primarily orthodox. Exports from India have fallen to 32 million kilos the past five years. Russia pays an average $5 per kilo for a mix of CTC and orthodox teas from Sri Lanka. Singh believes India could market teas of comparable quality for $3 to $3.50 per kilo, according to the The (Calcutta) Telegraph.

Tea Board Chairman M.G.V.K Bhanu noted that “the unit price of Indian tea has increased despite a surplus… this has happened due to improved qualities,” he said. Bhanu noted that Assam, Darjeeling and the Nilgiri tea producing regions are known worldwide but tea from the Dooars and Terai is abundant.

“Clearly, Iran with its preference for orthodox teas presents a great opportunity for increasing export volumes and earnings,” he said. “Exports so far have been good. I believe we will be able to export 10-15 million kilos more than last year even if there is a loss in CTC production,” he said.

Source: The (Calcutta) Telegraph, Business Standard 


BETHESDA, Md. – For the fourth year, organic bottled tea company HONEST Tea® has released a mission report, a document designed to share details of its business practices with customers. In this year’s publication the company acknowledged the “gray area” in which it is always operating — balancing sustainability with product quality and safety.

loris_lemon_msThe report explores changes they have made in sourcing, supply lines, and ingredient purchases. For example, as they began replacing cane sugar with fruit juice to sweeten Honest Kids juice drinks, it required increasing purchases of grape juice by 270%. This called for new suppliers and sources. Overall in 2012, the company increased its organic ingredient purchases by 500,000 pounds. This is a six fold increase since 2007.

There were a number of points specific to teas that are worth noting:

  • Honest Tea continued to source Fair Trade Certified (TM) ingredients, paying an annual premium of nearly 7% last year. This premium allowed Maud Tea Estate in Chamong, India to establish a microloan program for farmers to purchase cows and for the Organic Tea Farmer Association in Dazhanghsan, China to replace the bamboo raft they used to transport tea with a metal boat.
  • The company has announced that it will change its way of talking about antioxidants on its bottles. Beginning in 2013, total flavonoid content will be reported as opposed to specific catechins like EGCG.
  • The spent tea leaves from the production of Honest Tea are being provided to farms near three of their production facilities for use in composting.
  • Honest Tea released a Freshly Brewed iced tea line providing tea in a brewable pouch for the restaurant and food service industry. The goal was to reduce the use of single-serve bottles.
  • More of their teas will now be available in large, multi-serve bottles. The transition could save the equivalent of 700,000 16.9 fl. oz. PET bottles-worth of plastic.

The full report is available through HONEST Tea’s website on the Sustainability page.

Source: HONEST Tea®


SPARKS, Md. – Spice and herb manufacturing giant McCormick & Company unveiled the McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2014: 125th Anniversary Edition last week and tea was a highlight.

Each year the company brings together experts from across the globe to select top trends and new flavors that will be important in the food world in the year to come. This year’s top trends included chilies, modern interpretations of Indian food, cooking in compact urban kitchens, the foods and flavors of Mexico and Brazilian cuisine.

Tea made its appearance in the list of the 5 top flavors for 2014. It was included as a “must-have” ingredient that is readily available and can enhance and amplify food flavors when working with minimal ingredients. Tea’s use as a culinary ingredient in soups, marinades and rubs was specifically mentioned. McCormick released two tea recipes related to the report:  Vegetable Pho with Tea Broth and Easy Lemon Tea-Infused Custard with Candied Apricots. Both recipes are available on their website.

The other four flavors to hit the top 5 list were the Peruvian chile Aji Amarillo; Kashmiri Masala; a Mexican condiment composed of apricot, lime, chiles, and spices called Chamoy Sauce; and Cassava (or tapioca) flour.

Download the Flavor Forecast

Photos courtesy: McCormick & Company


Market Research Company Euromonitor International released a new e-book this week identifying the top five non-alcoholic drink trends in 15 countries throughout North and South America.

LOGO_Euromonitor InternationalOverall South America will see growth in most categories in non-alcoholic beverages, as many consumers seek healthier beverages such as bottled water, juice and tea. Mature North American countries will see expanding opportunities in beverages such as coconut water and liquid concentrates such as Mio, Dasani Drops and Nesfruta.

“Consumers in the Americas are continually looking for added convenience and greater health benefits in their beverage choices. Coffee and tea pods, along with liquid concentrates, are bringing both convenience and novelty to Canada and the United States,” says Senior Analyst, Kay Tamillow. “Meanwhile, the health and wellness trend continues to push dynamism in non-alcoholic drinks, especially in emerging markets in Latin America. Increased demand for functional drinks and more natural ingredients is driving a fast pace to innovation and new product launches across the region.”

E-book Highlights:

RTD Tea emerged as the fastest growing category in Venezuela for 2013. As the government has implemented price controls on juice, companies have focused on increasing production of RTD tea and consumers have shown a favorable attitude toward the category. RTD tea also remains the strongest growth category in Ecuador because consumers consider the product to be more natural and better for their health than carbonates.

Coffee has the highest per capita consumption in Brazil (behind Europe). The government-backed campaign “Brazil, the coffee country” is intended to help consumption increase by a further 1kg per person through 2018. Foodservice has also played a role in coffee consumption, with McDonald’s entry into retail coffee in Canada and Starbuck’s entry into Colombia. McDonald’s limited product selection, poor displays and weak pricing strategy did not help performance in Canada. However, Starbucks will have significant impact on the domestic coffee market and local consumption patterns in Colombia.

Carbonates Argentina has one of the highest per capita carbonate consumption levels in the world due to large acceptance of carbonated beverages and both aspirational and association consumption and the market is performing well. However, Uruguay’s consumption has decreased, as the population is shifting towards older segments that may be influencing lesser consumption. In Mexico, Coca-Cola has started delivering directly to homes, as many low-income workings make a habit of having a Coke and tortillas for their lunch and main meals.

Bottled Water popularity is growing in many countries, especially in the Latin American region. In Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile, bottled water represents a major component of healthier drinking trends. In Costa Rica, bottled water hasn’t performed as well because consumers are looking for more health benefits and nutrients in their beverages. In the US, Fiji bottled water introduced a straw-cap in April of this year when it noticed many of its female celebrity fans were using straw to sip the water to prevent their lipstick from being smeared.

Learn more: to download the E-book.

Source: Euromonitor International

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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.