Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 32

Afghan Tea Market Concerns as Taliban Conquers Kabul | Foodservice Recovery Rates Vary Widely by Sector | Researchers Confirm Heart Healthy Aspects of Tea | PLUS Anshuman Kanoria new owner of Jungpana and Goomtee estates on India's unrealized potential in tea.

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| Afghan Tea Market Concerns as Taliban Conquers Kabul
| Foodservice Recovery Rates Vary Widely by Sector
| Researchers Confirm Heart Healthy Aspects of Tea

Seven-minute Tea News Recap

Tea Price Report
April 21 – Sale 33

India Tea Price Watch

Afghanistan is an importer of green and orthodox black tea from India and in 2020-21, about 760,000 kilos of tea was exported from there. At the moment, the movement of cargo between the two countries stands interrupted. – Aravinda Anantharaman


This week Tea Biz visits Darjeeling, India on word of the sale of the iconic Jungpana and Goomtee tea estates to Anshuman Kanoria, principal at Balaji Agro International and chairman of the Indian Exporters Association

… and then to London where Kyle Whittington reviews The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, a novel by Lisa See.

Anshuman Kanoria discusses his company’s acquisition of two of Darjeeling’s best-known tea gardens.

Restoring Darjeeling’s Reputation from the Roots Up

By Aravinda Anantharaman

The sale of two iconic Darjeeling tea gardens focused attention on the ongoing challenges facing growers in this fabled tea-growing region. Jungpana and Goomtee were acquired by the Santhosh Kanoria Group, which owns the tea export company Balaji Agro International. The group also owns Tindharia estate in Darjeeling. We spoke to Anshuman Kanoria, Chairman of Balaji Agro and Chairman of the Indian Exporters Association about this acquisition. Read more...

Listen to the Interview
Anshuman Kanoria on India’s unrealized potential in tea
Lisa See has written a “brilliantly layered book” writes Whittington

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

New York Times best-selling author Lisa See has written several novels revealing her fondness for tea. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, however, uniquely explores the mysterious world of Pu’er. Reviewer Kyle Whittington writes that See’s novel “consists of so many brilliant layers… for the tea reader this is a wonderful story, packed with great tea content that will either develop or ignite an interest in, and a desire to explore the world of Pu’er.” Read the review

Listen to the review
Kyle Whittington reviews The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
A tea break for Afghan farmworkers. Afghans annually drink 1500 cups of tea per capita. Kahwa (a tea and spice blend) and green tea with mint are favorites. Photo by © Karl Allen Lugmayer |

Afghan Tea Market Concerns as Taliban Conquers Kabul

By Dan Bolton

Afghanistan is a major tea-consuming nation and a smuggler’s paradise for tea. The country became a profitable middleman by clever manipulation of border regulations that were only recently reined in after decades of openly flaunting Pakistani Customs enforcement.

Since tea trades in US dollars, money in Taliban controlled bank accounts is frozen. Bank withdrawals are limited and in-bound remittances from Western Union and MoneyGram have stopped. The East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) reports bidding at the Mombasa auction on tea bound for Afghanistan slowed as the Taliban occupied Kabul but EATTA explained that Afghanistan gets its Kenyan tea via Pakistan where there have been no disruptions at all, according to The East African. Shipments between India, another major source of tea, and Afghanistan were halted this week.

Afghanistan’s banks are closed, halting direct deposits for salaried workers. Interbank transfers are subject to sanctions imposed by western powers decades ago to curtail terrorist activity. The Financial Action Task Force, warned member countries they must ensure that “no funds or other assets are made available, directly or indirectly” to the Taliban or face fines and censure by the United Nations and the US along with many of its allies. During the 20 years since the Taliban was last in power, many businesses transitioned from cash and writing checks to digital banking. Prices for basic commodities like bread, oil, and tea have doubled since the government collapsed and the economy is in freefall.

In 2020 foreign aid from the US and Europe accounted for 43% of the economy. Remittances from Afghans living outside the country were nearly $800 million last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Given near universal sanctions due to a global blacklisting of the nation’s central bank, the Taliban will find it difficult to borrow or trade essential commodities, making taxes on citizens and local businesses the Taliban’s sole source of funds in a $22 billion economy.

It is too soon to know how the collapse of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban will alter the tea market, but smuggling was rampant during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. In Helmand province, traders said that “if we smuggle 40kg (heroin), we give the Taliban 4kg.”

Pakistan Customs lists black tea and green tea as two of the five most smuggled commodities. Tea exports to Pakistan surged in 2020, increasing 18.7% in value compared to 2019, making it the world’s highest-valued tea import market at $590 million. Kenya accounted for $497 million of last year’s import spend, growing 27% following a decision by the Indian government to no longer export tea to Pakistan.

Afghans prefer green tea to black, yet hundreds of thousands of kilos of black tea are landed annually at the Port of Karachi, Pakistan. Until recently Pakistan charged a combined 38% tax and duties on tea making the import cost of tea 32% higher than tea imported into Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a landlocked nation so huge quantities of African tea, mainly from Kenya, are delivered to the Pakistani port tax-free, taxed at a low rate at the Afghan border, and then transported to large warehouses where it is broken into retail packets and smuggled into Pakistan. Smugglers pay a 12%-15% bribe and transportation cost, pocketing the difference.

Biz Insight – Pakistan’s Competition Commission considers smuggling to be “the biggest threat faced by the domestic tea industry, causing loss of millions of rupees to the government and forcing legal importers out of business,” according to a 2019 report. A crackdown on violators in late 2020 led to a 55% increase in customs duties collected (a proxy for illegal trade) and evidence of a concerted effort by Pakistan to decrease the cost of legal imports, making smuggling unprofitable.

It will take years to rebuild some US foodservice sectors to 2019 consumer spending levels.

US Foodservice Recovery Rates Vary Widely by Sector

By Dan Bolton

Sales at Quick Service Restaurants (CSR) and the Supermarket Prepared Foods segment are well ahead of pre-pandemic totals but “everyone in foodservice is starting from a really different point,” reports Ann Golladay, senior project director at Datassential Research’s Baltimore office.

Datassential calculates that — overall — consumer spending in foodservice declined from $806.7 billion in 2019 to $701.4 billion in 2021 and will not return to pre-pandemic spending levels until 2023.

Golladay explained to webinar participants Aug. 19 that Fast Casual, once the darling of the industry with the largest real growth will not reach pre-pandemic spending levels before 2023 “and that will be nominal growth that does not include inflation,” she said. Golladay estimates inflation at 5% per year “so you will probably have to back down these projections 10% by then,” she said. Consumer spending at fast casual restaurants declined 19% in 2020. The segment is projected to generate $67.4 billion next year compared to almost $68.7 billion spent in 2019.

A survey of the nation’s grocers found that 74% reported increased sales in 2020. The consumer spend for prepared foods at supermarkets in 2022 will be $38.8 billion, rising by 119% compared to 2019 dollars.

Recreation, lodging, and convenience store foodservice segments will take even longer to recover. Lodging, for example, will have only achieved 71% of its 2019 consumer spend by 2022.

Until workers return to downtown offices, the business and industry foodservice sector, projected to reach pre-pandemic sales of $6.9 billion, will never recover.

Tea Biz Insight – Jack Li, principal at Datassential identified five “x-factors” that could disrupt the official projections. These include new variants, vaccine mandates, additional and extended lockdown, sustained inflation, and a combination of labor and supply chain bottlenecks.

Tea flavonoids reduce risk and severity of adverse cardiovascular events.

Researchers Confirm Heart Healthy Aspects of Tea

By Dan Bolton

Accumulating evidence of tea’s heart health benefits led researchers to conduct an umbrella review describing and critically evaluating the totality of medical evidence to date.

Their findings: “It is reasonable to judge that two cups of unsweetened tea per day has the potential to decrease CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk and progression due to its flavonoid content.”

The peer-reviewed paper authored by Abby Keller and Taylor Wallace and published in the Annals of Medicine, examines 10 years of studies, from 2010 to 2020, that identify several biological mechanisms showing a decreased risk and severity of cardiovascular disease in tea drinkers.

The authors write that “Results of population studies commonly suggest that tea consumption is inversely associated with several health outcomes. Shorter-term clinical intervention studies provide additional evidence that tea consumption has the potential to affect intermediate outcomes and biomarkers of disease in healthy, at-risk, and diseased populations.”

Based on this umbrella review, the researchers observed that the consumption of tea as a beverage “did not seem to be harmful to health; therefore, the benefits of moderate consumption likely outweigh risk.” 

Miriam “Mim” Enck, president of The East Indies Coffee & Tea Company, in Lebanon, Penn., passed away Saturday, Aug. 14 after a short illness. Since 2018 Enck has operated the company founded by her late husband, Walter Progner who started the specialty tea retail business in 1976. She was 75.

Upcoming Events

August 2021

POSTPONED: Beijing International Tea Expo, Beijing China
August 27-30, 2021 | Beijing Exposition Center (the recent coronavirus outbreak forced Beijing authorities to halt all events that attract large crowds. Watch this space for new date when it becomes available.)

September 2021

Caffé Culture Show, Business Design Center, London
September 2-3 | The European Speciality Tea Association will host a Speciality Tea Hub on the exhibition floor with a tea brew bar, a members’ lounge, educational seminars and small exhibitor pods.  Admission is free | Program | Register

Level Up, Virtual
September 29 | The Tea & Herbal Association of Canada will host a mid-year meet up from 10 am to noon. Admission $55 (CAD) Members $50. Agenda | Register

Click to view more upcoming events.

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Two-thirds of Top Economists Predict Weak Economies in 2023 | Tea News Year in Review Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – The New Year Brings Predictions of a Global Recession | Two-thirds of the world’s top economists predict economic weakness globally in 2023, according to the World Economic Forum, meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland. | Argentina Celebrates its Tea Centennial | Toronto Tea Festival Returns| NEWSMAKER – Dan Bolton, Founding Editor/Publisher Tea Biz Blog | Podcast| FEATURE INTRO – This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tea Biz Blog and the 100th episode of the Tea Biz Podcast. Listeners in 117 countries have downloaded at least one of the 36,474 streams since 2021. The podcast is most popular in these countries in this order: The United States, India, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, France, and Ireland, with Bangladesh, Sweden, China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka making up the top 15.Tea Biz Podcast Year in Review – In 2022, all the most frequently downloaded episodes aired during the year's first six months. No wonder: COVID surged in January. Changing consumer behavior led Coca-Cola to discontinue its Honest Tea brand. Logistics were in disarray globally due to lockdowns in China. In February, Russia invaded Ukraine leading to sanctions and the closure of Black Sea ports realigning the tea supply chain. Tea exports from Sri Lanka sharply declined as tea plants were starved of fertilizer amid economic turmoil that led the country’s prime minister to abandon his post and the country’s president to resign. Nepal exports plummeted, and Kenyan tea prices were flat. China experienced a merciless heat wave while Assam flooded. Headlines described restaurants clawing back toward normal against the headwinds of inflation and labor shortages.There was good news as well.Tea consumption globally continued to expand. Japan tea exports set a new record, and a Shizuoka hand-rolled tea brought a record price at auction. Researchers presenting at the Tea and Human Health Symposium revealed compelling new science-based benefits that may lead to the inclusion of tea in US dietary recommendations. The world’s largest tea company named a woman as CEO and rebranded as Lipton Teas and Infusions. The International Specialty Tea Association announced innovative tea evaluation protocols. India’s Tea Research Association revised its best practices to enhance sustainability. India realigned the priorities of its tea board from regulation to promotion, and Kenya implemented progressive policies legislated in the Tea Act of 2020. The Mombasa Tea Auction transitioned to digital trading. Brazil held its first national celebration of tea culture. In May, on International Tea Day, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said the tea industry could transform the agrifood sector globally.Support this podcast at — Inquiries: & Opt-Out:
  1. Two-thirds of Top Economists Predict Weak Economies in 2023 | Tea News Year in Review
  2. Ekaterra Rebrands as LIPTON Teas and Infusions
  3. Easing COVID Restrictions, Global Tea Initiative, and Grace Farms make the News
  4. EU Bans Imports that Drive Deforestation
  5. Iran Has Suddenly Stopped Importing Indian Tea and Rice


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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.