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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Hear the Headlines

| 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 News and Biz Insights – January 14, 2022 Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Draft Tea Act Redefines India’s Tea Board Mission | A Global Tea Harvest Review, a TEAIN22 Forecast | BOH Malaysia Named Tea Brand of the Year| NEWSMAKER – Jason McDonald, tea farmer and founder/CEO of The Great Mississippi Tea Company| GUEST – Kyle Whittington, founder Tea Book Club| FEATURES – This week, Tea Biz travels to the state of Mississippi, where tea farmer and founder/CEO Jason McDonald of The Great Mississippi Tea Company discusses the economics of mechanical harvesting following a two-year trial of selective harvesting equipment. Then to London, where Tea Book Club founder Kyle Whittington offers a modern take on the century-old classic The Book of Tea, published in 1906 by Okakura Kakuzō with an introduction rich in detail and context by Bruce Richardson. The Economics of Small Scale Mechanization –Inspired by The Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina, Jason McDonald decided to plant a tea garden amid the timber on his 289-acre farm in Lincoln County, Mississippi, where a combination of high heat, humidity, acidic soil, and ample rainfall is ideally suited to tea. In 2012 McDonald planted a test plot, making his first tea in 2015. In 2018 the tea garden produced sufficient quantities to begin selling to the public. McDonald has since diligently researched all aspects of the industry, enlisting horticultural, sustainability, manufacturing, and machine professionals to develop harvesting and automated tea processing equipment at scale. During the past two years, the farm conducted field trials with a selective mechanical harvester to produce 250 to 350 kilos of made tea annually. McDonald shares cost savings, a boost in yield, and leaves suitable for making specialty and mid-grade teas with readers.The Book of Tea, a review by Kyle Whittington –For a book that is well over a century old, The Book of Tea remains a classic and a book that is well worth re-reading from time to time. There are so many editions out there, variously with introductions by tea aficionados, scholars, and masters of the last hundred plus years. Some editions are particularly aesthetically pleasing to add to the tea bookshelf. However, the edition I always recommend is the one with the introduction by Bruce Richardson. Bruce’s exceptionally well-researched introduction into the life and times of Okakura is fascinating and helps to contextualize The Book of Tea. Additionally, the fantastic photos and illustrations help bring both the book and Okakura’s period of history to life.
  1. Tea News and Biz Insights – January 14, 2022
  2. Tea News and Biz Insights – January 7, 2022
  3. Tea News and Biz Insights – December 31, 2021
  4. Tea News and Biz Insights – December 17, 2021
  5. Tea News and Biz Insights – December 10, 2021


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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.