Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 34

Sri Lanka Tea Yields Feared to Decline | McLeod Russel Settlement Resolves Insolvency | Bangladesh Tea Sector Returns to Pre-Pandemic Production Levels | PLUS A chat with the Rare Tea Lady on obligations to origin | and Denys Shortt on digitizing the Tea History Collection

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| Sri Lanka Tea Yields Feared to Decline
| McLeod Russel Settlement Resolves Insolvency
| Bangladesh Tea Sector Returns to Pre-Pandemic Production Levels

Seven-minute Tea News Recap

Tea Price Report
Sept 4 – Sale 35

India Tea Price Watch

The South India Tea Exporters Association, led by Chairman Dipak Shah, identified twin problems that have continued to be a significant challenge this year: one is the rising cost of ocean freight, and the second is the problem of pesticides in tea where the onus of testing for permissible residue levels lies with the producers. But the liability – should tea be rejected by the buyer – rests with the exporter. Learn more…. – Aravinda Anantharaman


This week Tea Biz visits with Rare Tea Lady Henrietta Lovell whose passion for tea is exceeded only by her commitment to bettering the lives of those who make it.

… and then we travel to Banbury, UK to learn how the Tea History Collection is digitizing tea history one tome at a time.

Rare Tea Lady
Since founding The Rare Tea Co. in 2004, Henrietta Lovell has charted her own course in tea.

Henrietta Leads the Way

By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

Since founding the Rare Tea Co., in London in 2004 Henrietta Lovell has traveled the globe sourcing direct for the world’s five-star dining rooms and developing relationships at the farm level where her commitment to fair pricing for the finest tea and charitable work set a standard. “If I can make people appreciate tea, it will change the world,” she says. Rear more…

Listen to the Interview
Rare Tea Lady Henrietta Lovell.
Tea History Collection founder Denys C. Shortt OBE

Tea History Collection

By Dananjaya Silva | PMD Silva & Sons

The Tea History Collection in Banbury, UK, founded by Denys Shortt OBE has hosted a full calendar of events since opening in May. This tea industry resource is now undertaking the daunting task of digitizing bound volumes recording the trademark and ownership of colonial gardens from the early days of tea. Listen as Shortt discusses the importance of preserving tea company heritage online to be shared by all. Learn more…

Listen to the interview
Denys Shortt on the importance of digitizing tea history for all to share.


A monument known as the Tea Daughter at the entrance of Moulvibazar district at Srimangal, Bangladesh. Photo courtesy Faizi Tea Estate, credit:

Bangladesh Tea Rebounds

By Dan Bolton

The tea sector in Bangladesh is expected to return to near pre-pandemic production levels after setbacks in 2020. Like neighboring Assam, Bangladesh experienced a spring drought, high temperatures, aggressive pests, and the onslaught of the pandemic. Despite these challenges production through July is ahead of last year’s totals and estimated to reach 86 million kilos. Read more…

Spring bounty could become a fall shortfall as synthetic fertilizer supplies dwindle. Kandy tea garden in morning light by © Luboslav Ivanko |

Sri Lanka Tea Yields Feared to Decline

By Dan Bolton

Sri Lankan tea growers are experiencing the first effects of the country-wide ban on chemical fertilizers and plant protection chemicals (PPC).

After a productive spring, the fall harvest is predicted to decline beginning in October.

Herman Gunaratne, one of 46 experts picked by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to guide the transition to organic-only inputs told Agency Press France (AFP) that “The ban has drawn the tea industry into complete disarray.”

Gunaratne who manages the Ahangama Tea Estate, said “The consequences for the country are unimaginable.” was removed from the Green Socio-Economy after disagreeing with the president, according to AFP.

President Gotabaya ordered a halt to inbound shipments of fertilizers used to cultivate food crops such as rice and cash crops including cinnamon and pepper. Growers are concerned that plants accustomed to a rich diet of nitrogen and phosphate will take time to adjust to organic compost and manure.

Tea is the nation’s highest-earning export, generating $1.25 billion in foreign currency from the sale of 300 million kilos of tea annually. Sri Lanka harvested 187.8 million kilos through July. Mid-year crop yields were 20% ahead of the half-year mark set in 2020 but prices were higher on average last year.

Meanwhile, the fiscal crisis facing the country worsened as the Sri Lankan rupee depreciated 20% against the US dollar and British Pound. Food inflation is at 11.5% and long queues at food markets signal shortages. The government has invoked rules that fix prices and prohibit the hoarding of staples such as paddy, finished rice and sugar which briefly increased to SLRs 200 per kilo.

Sri Lanka’s economy, heavily dependent on tourism, declined 3.6% in 2020 and foreign reserves are at record lows.

Biz Insight During the next month Tea Biz will interview several key decision-makers, tea researchers, and non-government agricultural experts to discuss the pros and cons of switching Sri Lanka to organic-only cultivation.

McLeod Russel Settlement Resolves Insolvency

India’s largest bulk tea producer has settled with creditors to resolve financial peril.

PP Gupta, managing director of Techno Electric & Engineering, agreed to terms for repayment of a delinquent INRs 100 crore ($14 million) loan by McLeod Russel India, saying “this is now behind us, and we wish the company good luck.”

Techno triggered the insolvency on Aug. 6 by filing a formal application with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for redress.

McLeod borrowed the funds in 2018 and failed to make timely payments due to shortfalls in revenue from tea. The company sold several tea gardens to meet its obligations, but the sums were insufficient to satisfy creditors. McLeod currently owes its lenders approximately INRs 1800 crore (about $245 million). A resolution process, led by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will now proceed.

The company operates 31 tea estates in Assam and two in West Bengal, producing a combined 44 million kilos of Indian tea annually with additional holdings in Africa and Vietnam.

— Dan Bolton

  • Read more… links indicate the article continues. Learn more… links to additional information from sources.

Upcoming Events

September 2021

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

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Tea Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022 Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Black Friday Lives Up to its Name | US shoppers set in-store and online sales records | UNESCO Inscribes Two Tea Traditions on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity | Australian Study Shows Elderly Women Benefit from Tea Flavonoids| NEWSMAKER – Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea| GUEST – TeaBookClub Founder Kyle Whittington| FEATURE INTRO – Tea Biz travels to Tucson, Arizona, for the grand opening of a 2200 sq. ft. combination tea shop, tearoom, warehouse, and online fulfillment center. Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea, says that stay-at-home tea drinkers experimenting with specialty teas are eager to share the experience of tea discovery face-to-face.Tearooms Rekindle Cultural Experience Face-to-Face – Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea is typical of well-established shops that survived the pandemic. The direct-trade retailer is 20 years old, located in a second-tier city, and generates revenue online and in-store from packaged sales, tea service, and wholesale supply to coffee shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants.Packaged tea has fared well since 2019. A spike in sales jammed tea cupboards with direct-from-origin and exotic teas purchased online. The growing consumer preference for better-tasting tea favors retailers with quality selections, including herbal infusions. Retailers are remodeling to promote in-shop sampling as it encourages social interaction and repeat business among enthusiasts eager to experiment and learn from experts.Seven Cups founder Austin Hodge says, "When you enter a traditional teahouse, in China or Tucson, you step into a cultural experience that separates you from your daily problems. It’s a teahouse tradition for tea drinkers to be treated with respect and dignity, whatever their outside problems might be.”REVIEW: Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian CeylonAngela McCarthy & T.M. DevineThis fascinating book illuminates the all-too-often overlooked tea region of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka. The authors draw on the letters of James Taylor, pioneer and founding father of the Ceylon tea industry, to explore the life of a Scottish migrant who, through experimentation and determination, forged a new industry out of the ruins of the coffee blight. This uniquely complete collection of correspondence reveals this pivotal time in tea history through the eyes, thoughts, and actions of a key player. – Kyle Whittington
  1. Tea Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022
  2. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 25, 2022
  3. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 18, 2022
  4. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 11, 2022
  5. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 4, 2022


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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.