• Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon

    “…had merely provided the first seeds and then ‘entrusted the tea experiment’ to Taylor.

            It is undeniable, then, that Taylor led the way in many developments within the Ceylon tea economy…”

    And that’s a quote from Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon by Angela McCarthy & T.M. Devine.

    Caption: Tea & Empire Co-Author Angela McCarthy

    TeaBookClub Founder Kyle Whittington Reviews Tea & Empire

    Rediscovering the Legacy of James Taylor

    By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

    This 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. Some of the standards (two leaves and a bud) and machines that Taylor developed are still in use worldwide today. 

    We learn about the decline of the former plantation crops over several years and the fight to find a viable replacement: tea. James Taylor’s letters home to family, to local friends, and newspaper articles of the time are explored and expounded upon by the authors to offer a historical account by someone for whom the creation of tea was not just a vocation but an avocation too. Uniquely the story is told “as is.” That is to say, it is told in and of its time with explanation and exploration of the who, how, and why things were as they were, centered around the direct views, thoughts, and experiences of James Taylor. Unlike other works that look at this period, this book seeks not to offer judgment or rear-view mirror thinking but merely to show us what was happening at the time and why. First-hand accounts serve to explain and illuminate the period and the people as they were, as they lived, as they thought and spoke. This is the story and experiences of one man who lived through and shaped the birth of an industry. Not because he set out to change the world or get rich but because he was there because he worked with and in response to the situations, the place, and the time in which he found himself.

    More broadly, this book also explores the legacy of Scottish education and the thought that the Scottish diaspora played such a significant role in the colonial world, particularly in Ceylon. It also looks at the legacy and, indeed, rediscovery of the legacy of James Taylor and his place in both the history of Sri Lanka and the Ceylon tea industry.

    Although interesting, thought-provoking, and generally engaging to read, there are times when the reading can be a bit dry. Perhaps a case of two different writing styles. But push through those dry bits, and you’ll be riveted by the fascinating history within. TeaBookClub members agree that this is an essential book on your tea bookshelf that explores important tea history.

    See: Loolcondera Tea Estate (planted by James Taylor in 1867)

    Here’s what some TeaBookClub members thought:

    I’m really glad I read as much as I did, it seems like it’s very important history in the history of tea. – Audrey, USA

    It being a first-hand account is what really made it interesting – Michaela, Austria.

    I found it refreshing that the authors didn’t give Lipton much airspace. This was a book about James and what he did, achieved, and his life. I really appreciated that within the context of Ceylon at that time. – Taraya, Canada

    It had very interesting and very boring parts but overall very good to read. Some parts were easier to read than others, maybe because there were two different writers. – Mariella, Netherlands

    Fascinating that some of his machine designs are still being used today – Mariella, Netherlands

    Based in the UK, The Tea Book Club is an international group of tea lovers and readers who meet up virtually every month to discuss tea books. If you’d like to join us for the next read, visit teabookclub.org or @joinTeaBookClub on Instagram. 

    Tea & Empire

    Goodreads: This book brings to life for the first time the remarkable story of James Taylor, ‘father of the Ceylon tea enterprise’ in the nineteenth century. Publicly celebrated in Sri Lanka for his efforts in transforming the country’s economy and shaping the world’s drinking habits, Taylor died in disgrace and remains unknown to the present day in his native Scotland. Using a unique archive of Taylor’s letters written over a 40-year period, Angela McCarthy and Tom Devine provide an unusually detailed reconstruction of a British planter’s life in Asia at the high noon of empire.

    Amazon | Hardcover, 272 pages | Kindle $29.90

    Published September 1, 2017
    Manchester University Press

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  • The French Finish

    Emilie’s retail shop and tearoom, founded in 2017, spans 2,500 sq. ft., seats 20, and is co-located with Centered Spirit, a cultural and Holistic Center, housing her husband Alex’s holistic medicine practice. Emilie was born in France and grew up in Paris. A graduate of the Sorbonne in business management with post-graduate degrees in marketing. Fluent in Spanish, Emilie was the marketing director for Lacoste in Mexico City. Emilie curates a selection of brands that share the “French Finish,” a style that showcases French expertise in wine, culinary, essential oils, and perfume for more subtle and smoother tasting blends.

    Caption: Emilie Jackson in the shop’s classroom where she teaches customers about tea.

    Emilie Jackson on the evolution of retailing specialty tea.

    Emilie's French Teas
    Emilie’s French Teas is located near downtown Kansas City, Missouri, a city of 500,000 in the US Midwest.

    Emilie’s French Teas

    By Dan Bolton

    Specialty tea retailers in the US and Canada that survived lockdowns are now experiencing a precarious “post-pandemic” “pre-recession” economy marked by steep inflation and rising interest rates. Retailers say that while the pandemic increased demand for better quality tea, in-store traffic has declined as consumers enjoy their tea at home. Home has always been the preferred option for tea drinkers, but before 2020 tea in food service accounted for 20% of global tea revenue. Until office workers return to the world’s cities for daily lunch and afternoon tea breaks the 20% threshold will be difficult for the tea industry to achieve.

    See: Foodservice is Recuperating

    To attract customers back to their cafes, tea rooms, and shops, retailers seek to make each location a destination. To encourage in-store purchases retailers teach courses in person and via webinars, promote happy hours, host evening entertainment, conduct food pairings and tea tastings, schedule travelogues with demonstrations on tea making, and offering delivery services, curbside pickup, and even drive-thru.

    Dan Bolton: How do you describe teas that define French tea culture?

    Emilie Jackson: There’s a difference for me between tea cultivation and tea culture. Tea cultivation is where you actually grow the tea. I explain to our customers where tea comes from and how I pick the partners that I work with. I make sure they know it’s fair trade and that the teas have no pesticide or anything like that. It’s one thing common to all the tea we collect from all around the world.

    We suggest that for most of our teas customers first drink it without milk or sugar because you’re gonna miss some of the subtleties, right? So, we have real aficionados and some others who don’t know as much about tea. I say to them maybe you don’t like this particular tea, ‘try another’ I say, there’s a tea for everybody.

    “What really makes the difference in teas from France is how we finish the blend. We use our wine, culinary, essential oils, and perfume expertise to make the right blend.”

    Emilie (Potier) Jackson

    What really makes the difference in teas from France is how we finish the blend. We use our wine, culinary, essential oils, and perfume expertise to make the right blend.

    France has a long history with wine. When you think about grapes, there are different grapes for different styles of wine. For a long time we were one of the only places who knew how to grow the best wines. Wine makers came to learn and soon there were new regions and new cultivars. Now you get great wines from all over the world. Sometimes in places that you would not even expect. Tea is traveling a similar path. I think tea is experiencing a constant evolution. There’s different regions there’s different soil and climate (and now the impact of climate change) in countries that goes into the tea itself — without even talking about scented tea. You can get some great blends with subtle notes not just because of the terroir but also because of the year it’s been picked. So that’s fascinating and that’s why I like about French style tea blends. When we do a scented tea we never overpower the tea itself you always can taste if it’s a black tea, green, oolong, or white.

    Dan: Do you perceive that your customers are trying to refine their taste in tea and buying more expensive tea? Or do you feel people are beginning to trade down because of inflation and concerns about a recession?

    It’s a good question. First of all, for us, we’re already a niche market. We were more, you know, high-end products in the specialty tea category. So the people that come to see us, whether they know our brand, or they’ve been to France, experience some of that here. They come here looking for that. So we’re already more niche. So I think, yes, we’ve probably been impacted by the fear of a recession. And we probably are going to experience a greater impact. I hope people can still find small pleasures that they can buy, like a good loose leaf tea. And that’s one thing about our teas: price ranges are higher, but there are small things you can do for yourself that don’t break the bank.

    Dan: Is experiential retail the key to customer retention?

    Emilie: I’ve been in the retail business for a long time, and experiential is not new. When we created the shop, it was always about sharing our love of travel and our love for different cultures. You can see that I am from another culture. The photos, decor, and items in the shop are from places we have traveled to and the tea gardens we visited. Experiential retail creates an experience, a universe where people can feel transported.

    What I’ve seen before and after COVID is that fewer people are visiting retail shops in general, whether it’s fear of being around people or whether it’s just a change of habit, a lot of people, even the older generation who like to purchase their tea in-store now has learned to do so online. Online shopping has increased. I have people close by who order online and then just pick up the tea. So, in that regard, that’s what has changed.

    I have observed that people in the US go out a lot. COVID and everything refocused their attention on home habits. People started during the pandemic to make things at home, including many people who turned to tea because it was comforting. Tea came indoors. So that was good for us so far as packaged sales, but at the same time, making it at home meant fewer trips to the tea room.

    So if you look at the tea room itself, of course, that’s going to have an impact, right? So, as far as changing strategy, it’s more about how you deliver your product or put it in the hand of your customers, whether they want that to be in-store or just want to have the product delivered.

    I don’t know if it will change my strategy because it’s all about education. And I’ve always wanted to educate people about the different types of tea because there’s so much misinformation out there. Social media has pros and cons. One of the cons of online selling is that there is a lot out there, and the information is not always good. So how, as a consumer, do you find the right information?

    Dan: Online sales were a lifeline for many, many smaller tea rooms when they were ordered to close and later as they faced restrictions preventing their previous service level. Your client base stayed loyal, but some appear to have changed their buying habits permanently.

    Emilie: First of all, we were kind of, I mean, lucky in some ways; it’s just like when COVID hit, I was just finishing the online store. So, when clients started to ask, Hey, can you, you know, do curbside or anything like that? We were able to do it, you know, it’s a learning curve plus the technology. As far as logistics and everything, people sometimes don’t understand that tea made from Camellia sinensis is mainly grown in Asia, Africa, and India. When it comes to deliveries in the fall and winter, you get even more sales because, in the US, there is a spike when it’s colder. Everybody was ordering online, and all the different services, UPS, DHL, and USPS they didn’t have enough workers.

    It’s hard for us because everything else also increased if you think about it, you know, the overhead for just having a brick and mortar shop is very high. People don’t think about that. But that is a lot of the costs incurred, and then shipping has definitely increased. We don’t have the volume in order to decrease the shipping cost when shipping prices go overboard — we’re talking about a quarter or even one-third of the cost of goods. Sometimes when the client is close by, I will deliver it myself.

    Dan: Did you pass these costs on to your customers?

    Emilie: Well, actually, not that much, not as much as it was suggested I do. But it’s pretty hard, you know, to know at which point the customer can take it.

    Dan: Will you discuss the role of retail in educating consumers?

    Emilie: It depends on your market, and you know, how you position your brand. I like teaching, it’s my passion, I love learning, so anything that I learn, I always pass it on to the customer.

    Most often, I think they enjoy that. Some maybe don’t care, but most like to learn the processes. People are becoming a bit more aware that from the same plant, you get six types of teas. I explain how producers can get a white tea that is aged which makes it even more complicated. I answer many questions about caffeine.

    I also compare tea to coffee with people who are more into coffee. They understand the differences between regions and how it affects taste. In the same way, I explain how tea is picked and how that impacts the taste of each tea. At the end of the day, it’s fascinating. That’s what I love about tea you can learn something new every day until you pass away.

    Alex and Emilie Jackson

    Centered Spirit

    The Centered Spirit Cultural and Holistic Center holistic healthcare resource for the local community with several health practitioners that complement each other’s skills along with an apothecary and teaching area.

    The Center provides a safe environment for healing, relaxation, and a place to learn about cultures, traditions, and tea rituals around the world. Founders Alex and Emilie Jackson share a passion for the healing traditions of Central America, Mexico, and Europe. Their love for these and other cultures is embedded in every part of the Center, allowing everyone who enters to feel transported, embraced, and at peace.

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  • Q|A Niraj de Mel

    Sri Lanka is in turmoil politically and financially; the country of 22 million is struggling as widespread demonstrations continue. Unrest is tied to food inflation exceeding 50%, with critical shortages of cooking gas, fuel, and reliable electricity. The country has defaulted on its foreign debt, and its currency devalues with a credit rating that discourages outside investment. Government bankers are at an impasse in negotiating a bailout from the International Monetary Fund that will depend on difficult reforms, including higher taxes and governance changes. Tea producers are confronting all the above challenges, yet the Ceylon tea brand remains resilient. Last year, the industry generated $1.32 billion in US foreign currency, exporting 300 million tons of tea, of which 270 million was high-value orthodox tea.

    Export earnings increased 6.72% during the 2021 calendar year compared to 2020. Every subcategory reported growth, with exports of tea bags growing 84%, tea packets up 10%, sales of bulk tea up 2.5%, instant tea sales of 19.5%, and green tea up 22.8% through December, according to the Export Development Board.

    Industry veteran Niraj De Mel was named Chairman of the Sri Lankan Tea Board in June 2022, his second appointment to a position that he previously held in 2004. In this discussion with correspondent Dananjaya Silva, Managing Director at PMD Tea, de Mel explains the challenges and solutions facing Sri Lanka’s tea industry.

    Listen to the Interview

    Sri Lanka Tea Board Chair Niraj de Mel discusses challenges for the tea industry.
    Niraj de Mel with Bigelow Tea CEO Cindi Bigelow and Prasanna Panabrooke. Photo via Bigelow Blog

    Sri Lanka Relies on a Resilient Tea Industry

    By Dananjaya Silva | PMD Tea

    During his 45 years in tea, Niraj de Mel has worked as a taster, broker, exporter, and educator. He is past chairman of the Tea Exporter’s Association and the Colombo Brokers Association and served as vice chairman of the Colombo Tea Traders Association. He is the founder and director of The Mel’s Tea Academy in Colombo.

    Dananjaya Silva – Tea professionals globally say they are happy to see a safe and steady hand on the tiller as you return to steer the Sri Lanka Tea Board. Given the current political situation, how secure is your position?

    Niraj de Mel – Well, to start, let me tell you a bit about the developments before my appointment [on June 20]. Come the middle of May, the industry got together, and because they thought it was time, we told the authorities what we knew best and what was best for the industry. 

    So, arising from that, they also decided on the people best suited best-suited for the positions at the TRI [Tea Research Institute] and the Sri Lanka Tea Board. I was asked to step back into my previous role as chair for obvious reasons. The immediate past chairman went along with this delegation and met the minister [Minister of Plantation Industries, the Hon. (Dr.) Ramesh Pathirana] to discuss these things and told him that after the debacle as a result of a wrong decision on fertilizer, it’s time that we get the feedback from the experts. Plus, the industry will tell them exactly how things should be run. We have been doing this for the last 155 years, and it’s arising from that conversation that I’m in this seat today. 

    Dananjaya Now that a new president has been named, will changes in the cabinet likely means a new appointee to the Minister of Plantation Industries post?

    Niraj – I sincerely hope that he [Dr. Pathirana] will be reappointed to the position. Of course, there is no issue whatsoever because he and I will get on. 

    He’s a minister who sizes up things quite well. He’s a learned man being a medical doctor himself. If there is going to be a change in ministers, the Associations will take up with whoever who’s appointed to the position of Minister plantations that you know that I should remain. Be that as it may, I’m here to do the job.

    First and foremost, we need to steady the ship. 

    Dananjaya The ban on importing chemical inputs, including most fertilizers, was halted in October, but the effects of the setback linger.

    Niraj – Mistakes were made, but circumstances that led to that decision have changed. The big development is a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war, a conflict between some of the world’s largest fertilizer suppliers. Fertilizer has since become scarce and prices went sky high, impacting Sri Lanka at a time when our currency itself also depreciated, compounding matters for the average tea farmer. It’s now virtually impossible for him to afford this kind of price.

    To address that, the Sri Lanka Tea Board considered an initiative that has been knocking on the door since January. I see from the minutes a request for funds from the promotion levy to be used to facilitate a loan scheme so that farmers get fertilizer to start feeding these bushes, which have been starved for nutrients.

    The board has since delivered fertilizer to nearly 100 factories to offer to smallholders and regional plantation companies. They are working to ensure that the estates will have sufficient fertilizer within about one and a half months.

    Editors Note: The Hindu reports that India, on July 17, delivered 44,000 metric tons of urea under a credit line extended to Sri Lanka, as part of New Delhi’s ongoing efforts to support the island nation’s farmers and help bolster bilateral cooperation for food security, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

    Dananjaya – It seems we’ve returned to the days of old during the colonial period when the Planter’s Association essentially told the Governor of Sri Lanka what was good for the country. Because what was good for the planters’ community was good for the country.

    Niraj – Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s time actually that all the private sector did that, not only tea. The private sector has long been the engine of growth in this country, be that planting, manufacturing, exports or brokering. All that is well handled by the private sector and the government sector, such as the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka, does the research.

    Dananjaya The crisis not only impacts the rural tea sector. Service providers report difficulties obtaining financing, fuel, and reliable electrical power in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s hub for blending, packaging, and shipping. Will you describe how the tea board is addressing these concerns?

    Niraj – I think there needs to be some clarification on this. The private sector basically handles it, but we are trying as far as possible to assist. I have tried to instill into the minds of the officials that we have to be an enabling outfit.

    Going back to your question No. 2, there’s one item that was missed: the fuel factor. Actually, that has taken precedence over fertilizer now because the collection of leaves as well as bringing the manufactured tea out is essential to run your factories. Exporter functions, particularly the tea bagging sector, where the machines have to be run continuously, all require an uninterrupted power supply. Power cuts that have been prevailing in this country for the last 4-5 months are an encumbrance to the people, as a result of that, now compounded by the fact that there’s fuel scarcity, particularly diesel. So given the availability of fuel we are trying our best to contact all concerned with the right message to ensure that the producers get their fuel quota.

    They cannot have it the way they used to have, because the country itself is, you know, is importing fuel ship by ship. The private sector importers, in particular, have stepped in, which is very magnanimous on their part. To fast-track this process, the government has said, well, if you can produce the foreign exchange, you can certainly get the fuel across. So, the private sector exporters banded together to give off whatever they could.

    Dananjaya As new problems have arisen over the course of this year, from power cuts to rationing fuel, the tea industry has drawn on a battle-hardened core of tea professionals who are able to react quickly and make provisions to see that the industry continues to operate.

    Niraj – That’s right. That’s right, reaffirming that Sri Lanka tea has for 155 years been one of the most resilient industries in this country. 

    There will be little disruptions here and there, but the fact of the matter is we are managing, though it’s challenging. There is great unity among the stakeholders, particularly now with these current issues which they had to face together. We started at the beginning of the pandemic back in 2020. Everybody came together in two and a half weeks to quickly convert to an electronic platform to conduct the auctions, which was great. That carries on to this day. The Colombo traders are very, very confident that there will not be a return to the old outcry system. I started life as a broker and enjoyed the outcry system, but the fact-of-the-matter is we have to move with the times. The platform has enabled us to quicken the process, giving buyers, producers, and brokers time to spend on other things.

    Cricket is an apt metaphor… Cricket is the only game that stops for Tea, the country might be 74/8, with a bumping pitch and blinding light, but the Tea sector continues to bat on at the crease.

    “Play up! Play up! and Play the Game!

    – Niraj de Mel

    Dananjaya Silva is the managing director of London-based PMD Tea and a fourth-generation tea man whose family business, P.M. David Silva & Sons, dates to 1945 during the Plantation Raj in Ceylon’s Dimbula Valley.


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  • Protecting Sri Lanka’s 150-year-old Brand

    In 2021, Sri Lanka launched a ?4.5 billion global promotion to increase the export volume and value of Ceylon tea, a billion dollar brand. The campaign targets 12 markets, including the UK, EU, Asia, and North America. In parallel, the board is pursuing a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union. GI status affords global trade protection under the World Trade Organization and officially recognizes the authenticity of the Ceylon brand.

    • Caption: Jayampathy Molligoda, Chairman of the Tea Board of Sri Lanka
    Jayampathy Molligoda, Chairman of the Tea Board of Sri Lanka

    Why Sri Lanka is Seeking GI Status for its Ceylon Brand

    By Dananjaya Silva | PMD Tea

    A Protected Geographical Indication (GI) is a seal of authenticity awarded products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputations that are due to that origin. Correspondent Dananjaya Silva sat down with Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Jayampathy Molligoda to discuss why the tea board is pursuing GI status and what this means for prices for producers, exporters, and for the nation’s tea.

    Dananjaya Silva: Will you explain how geographical indication protects Sri Lanka’s multi million dollar investment in promoting Ceylon tea in foreign markets?

    Jayampathy Molligoda: The World Trade Organization [WTO] TRIPS* agreement is the trade related aspects of intellectual property rights. So, the law relating to geographical indications originally emerged from the TRIPS agreement under WTO. Everything stems from that.

    Geographical indications are exclusively for unique offerings like Ceylon tea, or Ceylon cinnamon which identify the product as originating in a Sri Lankan region: quality, reputation, or any other characteristics of Ceylon tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

    Ceylon tea is a registered trademark owned by Sri Lanka Tea Board in Sri Lanka. But what is important is that globally 95% of our tea is being marketed in 140 countries. At least 50 to 60 countries take about 90% of our tea. So, it’s a reputed name globally. Unfortunately, over a period of time we have lost some of the markets Pakistan, Egypt even Russia, their market size has come down drastically for the tea. As a result, we have been selling around 28 million kilos out of our 280 million kilos.

    One important point I will explain in detail the Ceylon tea is associated with the Lion logo. To qualify for the Lion logo, one has to pack in Sri Lanka 100% pure Ceylon tea so that’s the problem. Ceylon tea, although is a registered certification, it’s not registered legally in other than a few countries.

    As a result, there had been some misusers of the name. We were unable to take legal action on some of the infringements, so depriving our genuine exporters’ ability to service and increase their market share in Ceylon tea products.

    Ceylon tea is unique, we all know Ceylon tea is unique. Our tea masters know how to prove that through the testing methods, but that is not acceptable to European Union countries. We have to scientifically prove that this Ceylon tea originating from Sri Lanka has unique characteristics because of its geographical origin and reputation. So that is why we are trying to get this GI registration under intellectual property rights.

    Dananjaya: In addition to the legal protection it affords, will you discuss how Protected Geographical Indication status also speaks to the unique qualities of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing regions. GI status establishes a strong, distinguishable, and marketable reputation.

    Jayampathy: The GI status is a marketable reputation for producers because the producers follow farming traditions. It’s the cleanest tea in the world so that is the brand story for Ceylon tea. If you go back to the TRIPS arrangement under WTO, the original purpose behind geographical indication was to give recognition to the producer, the farmer.

    “Our objective is not only to stabilize but to obtain even better prices in terms of U.S. dollars and to get more market share.

    – Jayampathy Molligoda

    Dananjaya: Will obtaining GI status help stabilize prices?

    Jayampathy: Our objective is not only to stabilize but to obtain even better prices in terms of U.S. dollars and to get more market share.

    If you carve off our 300 million kilo per annum production, basically 285 million of that is what is known as Orthodox Ceylon tea. So that orthodox type of Ceylon tea is not ideally suited for tea bags and that may be one of the reasons why we have lost share in the mass market.

    Since CTC is different than Orthodox, we have to find a niche market. Our brand marketing strategy rests on three pillars. First, Ceylon tea is an authentic product, as we explain. Next we demonstrate our sustainability credentials compared to other competing countries and products citing, for instance, the fact that our farmers, our regional plantation companies practice environmental sustainability and attend to the social wellbeing of the people under the Tea Control Act. Finally, there is the wellness factor. Because of these three pillars we are getting a premium price for our tea.

    As a matter of fact, at the auction level and the wholesale level, we command $3.50 per kilo converted to U.S. dollars at the Colombo auction. The Mombasa Auctions and Calcutta they get less than $2, roughly say $2, according to information provided by ITC [International Tea Committee] as well as FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Intergovernmental Group findings.

    Recently domestic prices have gone up. In order to get more dollars, the authorities have taken the right course by allowing the rupee to fluctuate, but it has to be carefully managed float in my personal view.

    There is a tipping point our exporters must address to sell tea at a very high price. The tea board then works to ensure those FOB prices are trickled down through the factories to the farmers. It is more important getting this money to the farmer, not to give benefit to the exporters or the big time players to earn more money.

    So we pitch our Ceylon tea in that particular niche as a differentiated product. So how do we differentiate? It’s only through certifications and indications. Once we have obtained GI logo, it can be combined with other quality standards and the traceability can be assured so they know where the tea comes from.

    That’s the game plan. We just use the global tea promotion to explain the benefits of differentiated tea.

    London-based Dananjaya Silva is managing director of PMD Tea and a fourth generation tea man whose family business, P.M. David Silva & Sons dates to 1945 during the Plantation Raj in Ceylon’s Dimbula Valley. The company was founded on Brunswick Estate in the fertile Maskeliya Valley as a small independent Tea shop for tea plantation workers to gather, relax and enjoy a quality cup of tea.


    The GI mark of authenticity defines the origin boundaries and enhances legal protection for food products.

    Overview: The TRIPS Agreement

    The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement is the most comprehensive multilateral framework for protecting intellectual property. It was enacted in January 1995 to establish a public register of rights that is accessible globally. It bolsters protection afforded by the issuance of CTMs (certification trade marks). The advantages of a Protected Geographical Indication include additional protection when a CTM is not accepted in a jurisdiction; the ability for GI holders to obtain reciprocal protection of a mark mandate under EU Regulation 2081/92; and the fact that GIs describe with legal precision the product’s direct links with origin.

    In addition to geographical indications including appellations of origin, TRIPS covers copyright and related rights (i.e. the rights of performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations); trademarks including service marks;  industrial designspatents including the protection of new varieties of plants; the layout-designs of integrated circuits; and undisclosed information including trade secrets and test data. Learn more: TRIPS Agreement

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  • Reinvigorating India’s Tea Sector

    India Chief Correspondent Aravinda Anantharaman reviews a momentous year for the tea sector in a country that produces 20% of the world’s tea. India’s tea drinkers are projected to consume 1.3 million metric tons of tea in 2022. Consumption outside the home (except in tea lounges and airports) has returned to pre-COVID levels and at 840 grams per capita, remains well below most countries, suggesting much room for growth. Her report is the sixth in the series of TEAIN22 year-end reviews and forecasts.

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