• Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 23

    Hear the Headlines

    | Sri Lanka’s Clean Tea Ambitions
    | COVID’s Toll on Tea Garden Workers
    | Tea Day Auction Yields Record Prices
    | Nayuki’s Lucrative IPO

    Tea Price Report

    The worst of the pandemic’s second wave seems to be behind India as the number of cases have come down in many parts of the country, and lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted. The focus now turns to production and prices across auction centres. Read more…


    Tea Biz this week travels to Boulder, Colo. where Maria Uspenski, founder of The Tea Spot explains the relationship of beneficial adaptogens and tea…

    …and then to Milwaukee, Wis., where Jeff Champeau, vice president of business development at Rishi Tea & Botanicals, explains that marketing seasonality is a great way to introduce craft-brewed tea into our lives.

    Maria Uspenski
    Maria Uspenski

    Adaptogens and Tea

    By Marilyn Zink | Herbal Collective Magazine

    Our guest this week is Maria Uspenski, a cancer survivor, and author of Cancer Hates Tea. In 2004 Maria founded The Tea Spot, a tea wholesaler and teaware design company in Boulder, Colo.  Read more…

    Maria Uspenski on Adaptogens and Tea
    Jeff Champeau, vice president of business development at Rishi Tea & Botanicals
    Jeff Champeau, vice president of business development at Rishi Tea & Botanicals

    Healthful Effervescence

    By Dan Bolton

    Tea is on a trajectory akin to small-batch, craft-brewed beer where carefully selected ingredients are individually prepared to showcase their best characteristics. Recipes emphasize balance, with efficacy and taste foremost. Excellence in blending and brewing preserves high concentrations of polyphenols and other beneficial plant compounds with minimum calories, nothing artificial, the convenience of cans and the fun of fizz. Read more…

    Jeff Champeau on sparkling craft-brewed teas
    Jayampathy Molligoda, Chairman SLTB
    Jayampathy Molligoda, Chairman Sri Lanka Tea Board

    Sri Lanka’s Clean Tea Ambitions

    By Dan Bolton

    The Sri Lankan government’s ban on chemical fertilizers including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium urea pellets, in favor of organic fertilizers is generating vigorous debate as the tea industry weighs methods for increasing yield.

    Jayampathy Molligoda, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, attributes the gradual decline in productivity in Sri Lanka’s tea gardens to continuous application of chemical fertilizer. In a 2,500-word article titled “Sustainable Solution to the Decline in Tea Production, Export Revenue and Livelihood” Molligoda advocates a “radical shift in our perceptions, our thinking, and our values.” He writes that the only viable solutions are those that are sustainable.

    His views are in sync with business leaders in Sri Lanka from many industry sectors, who are advocating a “green normal” in which companies collaborate to protect nature. One such coalition, known as Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL), is at the heart of building “truly sustainable economies and livelihoods.”

    Molligoda’s challenge is science as critics point to the myriad difficulties of switching from a compact, precisely applied plant food to a bulky and much more expensive alternate. Organic fertilizers are limited in their capacity to deliver nitrogen (12%) compared to chemical fertilizers (46%) and the price can be 50 times greater per kilo than synthetics that sell for less than $1 per kilo.

    Sri Lanka’s growers can produce enough fertilizer for 100,000 hectares and the nation’s 27 licensed domestic organic fertilizer manufacturers can provide enough fertilizer for 224,000 hectares. The country will have to import sufficient fertilizer essential for 500,000 hectares of paddy land and 600,000 hectares of other crops, including tea, according to a report in Economy Next.

    BSL is chaired by Dilmah Tea CEO Dilhan Fernando who writes that, “beyond the pandemic, we all face a threat that could literally suffocate, starve and extinguish humanity. The measures we must take now to assure our health, food security, and survival must be universal, science-based, innovative, and definite.”

    Biz Insight – The prize for Sri Lanka are teas that not only reflect the island nation’s extraordinary terroir but demonstrate in laboratory tests a level of purity no other tea producing country has achieved. In short, Sri Lanka will grow the cleanest teas in the world.

    COVID's Toll on India's Tea Gardens
    COVID’s Toll on India’s Tea Gardens

    COVID’s Toll on India’s Tea Gardens

    Last year the coronavirus pandemic plunged India’s economy into a recession for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century. Tea production, tea exports, and tea retail all suffered, but rural workers were largely spared the high death counts experienced in the nation’s crowded cities.

    That is no longer the case as the COVID-19 second wave crests. The tea industry employs 3.5 million workers who reside in small homes and who rely on crowded vans for transport, resulting in much higher rates of infection than in 2020. Currently more than half of the 800 tea gardens in Assam and 300 of the registered gardens in West Bengal report active cases. Confirmation in a single tea estate of 20 or more cases results in the designation of containment zones. There are now 3,000 active cases among tea workers in Assam, but deaths of tea workers are rare at 102. Kerala reported 331 deaths of tea workers with 11 in Tamil Nadu. On June 15 West Bengal reported 4,371 active cases and 84 deaths.

    The rate of infection has dropped significantly since May, but vaccine hesitancy remains ‘rampant.’ Fewer than 100,000 tea workers in Assam have received their first shot with only 6,000 getting the required booster so far. Globally only 10% of the world’s population had been vaccinated as of June. Read more…

    Jorhat Tea Auction Centre
    Jorhat Tea Auction Centre

    Tea Day e-Marketplace Auction Yields Record Prices

    Selections of Indian tea harvested on May 21, International Tea Day, sold at record prices this week on a cloud-based digital marketplace launched at the height of the pandemic.

    The auction was conducted by mjunction, India’s largest B2B e-commerce platform.

    A whole leaf tea from Pabhojan Tea Estate sold for INRs 4000 (about $54 per kilo US) with a specialty green from Diroibam earning a winning bid of INRs 1000 (about $13.50 per kilo US). More than 93% of the teas on offer were sold.

    Pabhojan Tea Estate INRs4000 Record Price
    The Pabhojan Tea Estate orthodox above brought INRs 4000 ($54 per kilo)

    Additional tea estates with lots sold includ Lankashi, Aideobari, Muktabari, Rungliting, Narayanpur Panbarry, Durgapur, Tirual, and Kathonibari.

    Since June 2020 the marketplace’s 300 registered users have traded 1.3 million kilos of tea. Read more…

    Nayuki’s Lucrative IPO

    China’s fresh-fruit, bubble, and foam-cheese tea chain Nayuki debuted with a $656 million valuation this week on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Shares of the initial public offering traded at nearly $20 and were 190 times oversubscribed. Husband Zhao Lin and wife Peng Lin opened their first store in Shenzhen in 2014. Each is now a billionaire based on their holdings.

    The company operates 500 locations in China with 300 more planned in 2021 and 350 in 2022. International locations include Japan and the US. The IPO debuted before a planned IPO by cross-town rival Hey Tea, a larger venture with 450 Chinese locations that has also established a foothold in the US.

    Nayuki introduces a new flavored tea weekly
    Nayuki introduces a new flavored tea weekly

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  • Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 22

    Hear the Headlines

    | Cold Brew is Trending for Iced Tea Month
    | DAVIDsTEA in Canada Settles its Debts
    | Kenya Exports Surge but Auction Prices Remain Low
    | PLUS Smith Teamaker’s Ravi Kroesen explains the company’s new plant-based café concept and Amy Dubin-Nath talks about the future of whole leaf Indian teas.

    Tea Price Report

    As India’s second flush gets underway, the mood is glum as the industry continues to deal with many challenges. Local media reports on rising imports of tea into India and in Darjeeling, producers have expressed concern about zero-duty imports from Nepal. Read more…


    Tea Biz this week travels to Columbus, Ohio to visit with Amy Dubin-Nath, founder of Janam Tea and an ad hoc India tea ambassador to the US.…

    …and then to Portland, Ore. where Ravi Kroesen, head teamaker at Smith Teamaker, explains the many uses of tea at the company’s recently opened plant-based café.

    Amy Dubin-Nath
    Amy Dubin-Nath

    India’s Spectacular Specialty Teas

    Amy Dubin-Nath sees a bright future for specialty teas originating in India, “but I don’t think it is going to be a quick flip where people are only after high end teas.” Instead, the process will be gradual, following a path similar to wine. “Do I want to see the spectacular teas of India keep selling at a high price?” she asks, “Yes, definitely, as that elevates the perceived value, making it something precious. I believe that message should be spread throughout the world — including in India.” Read more…

    Ravi Kroesen, Head Teamaker Smith Teamaker
    Ravi Kroesen, Head Teamaker at Smith Teamaker, Portland, Ore.

    A Plant-Based Café where Tea Reigns Supreme

    By Jessica Natale Wollard

    The intent of the new café concept, says Smith Teamaker Ravi Kroesen, is to “develop foods that really reflect our ethos of plants, as well as utilizing tea as an ingredient.” The new Smith Teamaker café sources locally with a menu that includes snacks, lattes and iced concoctions with full meals that demonstrate how tea and food can live in harmony from leaf to cup to plate. Read more…

    Cold Brewed Tea
    Cold Brewed Tea

    Iced Tea Month: Cold Brewed Teas are Trending

    By Dan Bolton

    The challenge of correctly steeping a delicate green to avoid bitterness disappears when the tea is brewed overnight in the fridge. “I’m cutting calories and want something more flavorful than water,” begins one Reddit thread. “Can you explain to a total cold brew newbie how to get the most flavorful green tea without additives.” The responses were enthusiastic and numerous, evidence that the technique rivals more traditional fresh-brewed, flash-chilled black tea.

    Whether boiling tea to pour over ice, or making cold brew, the tea to water ratio is critical. Begin with about twice the normal weight of tea, 6-8 tablespoons for 1.5 quarts (or 8-12 grams per 950 milliliters). Stale tea requires more leaves, quality whole leaf requires fewer. Make sure your vessel is airtight as tea will pick up the scent of leftovers.

    Allied Market Research estimates RTD tea generated $30 billion in 2019 and will grow 5.5% annually to $39 billion in 2027. Health-conscious millennials are driving sales. Mintel reports that 25% of new tea innovations are RTD. In China where 78% of consumers are frequent drinkers of freshly brewed hot tea, RTD enjoys 49% penetration, which is greater than tea bags, according to Mintel.

    Biz Insight – Cold brew coffee experienced remarkable five-year growth in both bottled ready-to-drink and foodservice. North America is the largest cold brew market globally with 66% market share, followed by Europe (17%) and Asia (11%). In the US – 2015 toles of cold brew coffee are expected to increase ten-fold from $110 million to $945 million in 2025, according to Statista market research. Three-sixty market research estimates the market globally will reach $2.8 billion by 2026.

    DAVIDsTEA Settles Debts

    A Quebec Superior Court approved the Montreal-based tea company’s plan to settle $118.2 million in claims for $18 million payable in July. A US Bankruptcy Court this week approved a similar plan for resolving debts owed by DAVIDsTEA’s US subsidiary.

    The settlements are a final step toward exiting a year-long reorganization precipitated by the closure of all but 18 of the company’s more than 200 locations. The settlement will be divided with $15.3 million going to Canadian creditors and $3.1 million to US creditors, according to PwC, Canada. The company has sufficient cash on hand to meet settlement obligations.

    Under the direction of CEO Sarah Segal, DAVIDsTEA has adopted a “digital first” market strategy for sales to consumers. Its wholesale products are now found in 2500 grocery and pharmacy outlets. The company reported sales of $40.2 million in fourth quarter 2020. Revenue from the fast-growing online and wholesale segment has increased from $42 million in 2019 to $97.2 million in 2020. Greatly reduced brick and mortar revenue now accounts for only 12.9% of total sales. Revenue overall declined 38% in 2020 leading to $55.9 million in losses.

    Kenya surge
    Kenya tea exports surge during first three months of 2021

    Kenya Tea Exports Surge

    Despite upheaval at the factory level, Kenya exported much higher tea volumes this year. First quarter exports increased 18.9% compared to 2020, according to the national Tea Directorate. Volume topped 153 million kilos, up from 128 million during the same period in 2020.

    Smallholders that produce 65% of the country’s tea experienced variable weather conditions in 2021 creating an overall decline in production during the first three months of 2021. Growers, primarily in the far west, harvested 18 million fewer kilos since January compared to the same quarter in 2020. Auction prices are on the rise, reaching $1.84 per kilo last week but remain below the $2 per kilo threshold considered essential to cover production costs. Weekly prices so far averaged $2 only once in 2021. Tea prices averaged $1.80 per kilo in 2020, down from $2.05 per kilo in 2019.

    Biz Insight* – Kenya’s tea growers are benefiting from payment of 50% of the total due thanks to national reforms instituted this spring. Half the price for green leaves delivered within the month to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories, is paid by the 20th of the following month. The balance is paid in the fall at the end of the financial year. KTDA’s factories are owned by smallholders and managed by KTDA.

    *Corrected 6.20.2021

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  • Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 21

    Hear the Headlines

    | Inflation Dampens Enthusiasm Over Rising Tea Prices
    | India’s Tea Industry Under Duress
    | European Union Grants Rooibos GI Protection

    Tea Price Report

    While lockdowns continue, tea auctions in India resumed last week at all the major centers. In the Nilgiris, discussions on whether bought leaf factories can open are still underway.
    Read more…


    Tea Biz this week travels to Frankfurt Germany to discuss best practices in sustainable wholesale with Jan Holzapfel, owner of Ronnefeldt Tea, a 198-year-old company that is replacing its tea packaging this year with eco-friendly materials, embracing traceability, and reducing emissions by longer air freighting tea.

    … and then to London where Tea Biz Reviewer Kyle Whittington has a single word for INFUSED, a book by Rare Tea Founder Henrietta Lovell that describes her adventures in tea: “Wow,” he writes, “You really feel like you are sitting over a cup of tea with Henrietta as she regales you with her stories, the highs, the lows, and the off on a tangent.”

    Jan-Berend Holzapfel
    Jan-Berend Holzapfel, owners Ronnefeldt Tea

    Sustainable Wholesale

    Sustainable best practices at tea gardens are well established, but the rest of the supply chain offers significant opportunities to protect and conserve resources. Listen to the latest Tea Biz Newsmaker Q|A as Jan-Berend Holzapfel, owner of Germany’s Ronnefeldt Tea, discusses sustainable wholesale.

    Read more…

    Henrietta Lovell
    Rare Tea Lady Henrietta Lovell

    A Book to Re-ignite your Tea Flame

    You really feel like you are sitting over a cup of tea with Henrietta

    By Kyle Whittington | Tea Book Club

    Infused Adventures in Tea

    Wow! What a book! From start to finish Henrietta had me captivated, excited and enthralled by her world. A Tea Book unlike most, this is the very personal story of Henrietta’s adventures with tea in tea and all around tea. From her first fledgling sips out of dainty China Cups at Diana’s House as a child, we are taken along on a ride of reminiscence. With trips to far flung tea fields swathed in mist via the odd lightning strike or two we zip off to tea tastings with chefs at some of the best restaurants in the world, accompanied by her little yellow suitcase and strange meetings on trains. To name to mention but a few of her adventures. 

    Read more…

    Food Inflation
    Food Inflation

    Food Inflation Dampens Enthusiasm Over Rising Tea Prices

    By Dan Bolton

    In the US and Asia, an energetic post-pandemic recovery is underway. Demand is quickly rebounding as consumers spend down their savings and make up for the lost time. Consumers in the largest economies amassed $2.9 trillion in savings since March 2020, according to Bloomberg Economics.

    Now they are eager to spend.

    Retail sales in the US are projected to approach $4.5 trillion in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF, which initially estimated 6.5% growth, increased its full-year GDP projection to 7%, the fastest rate in decades. In China, household income grew 13.7% during the first quarter of 2021.

    Widespread inflation is dampening that good news.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports inflation in member countries is at the highest level since 2008. Globally, food prices rose for the 12th consecutive month in May, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. The FAO’s Food Price Index was 40% higher in May 2021 when compared to May 2020. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, which tracks price changes across a range of metals and agricultural commodities, has jumped roughly 60% in the past 12 months.

    Food prices, including the cost of tea, are rising on demand. Tata Consumer Products, Nestlé and Unilever all announced price increases across their ranges in response to commodity inflation.

    Rooibos plants
    Rooibos Plants, South Africa

    EU Grants Rooibos GI Protection

    The European Union this week awarded Rooibos, which is also known as Red Bush tea, status as a protected geographic indication affording the same protection to products such as champagne and Irish Whiskey.

    The registration allows South Africa’s Rooibos industry to display the EU Seal if the tea consists of 100% Rooibos that is either cultivated or wild-harvested from local municipalities of the Western and North Cape provinces.

    The South African Rooibos Council welcomed the news. Council Chairperson Marin Bergh said that while it is important that nobody else use the name Rooibos “it also gives a certain status about quality, reliability, and sustainability – all those things that go together with a GI.”

    India’s Tea Industry Under Duress

    While the peak of the horrific second wave has passed, India’s tea industry remains under duress as the coronavirus simultaneously strikes down workers, limits plucking and processing, halts inter-district transport, and forces the early-day closure of restaurants and beverage stalls.

    The government estimates more than one million workers, mainly women, are losing productive days and wages due to the pandemic and inclement weather with the arriving monsoons.

    The delivery of 235,000 doses of vaccine this week halted a steep increase in Coronavirus caseloads in Assam’s tea gardens. Daily average infections in June are now 4,000 per week, down from almost 6,000 per week in May. Positivity rates remain high, forcing an extension through June 16 of lockdowns and a daily curfew from 1 pm through 5 am. Shops and restaurants must close by noon and inter-district transport is prohibited. The state reported 450,000 cases and 3,600 deaths. The seven-day average for new cases is 7,400 in West Bengal and 9,000 in Kerala.

    India reported fewer than 100,000 cases for a fifth day and while daily death totals are high at 4,000, this average is expected to decline as the drop in new cases continues. During the peak of the spring infections, from April 1 to May 6, India recorded 926,000 news with a positivity test of 26%. Testing continues at the same pace, but positivity has declined to an average 4%. Active cases are now at 1 million, according to the Union Health Ministry.

    Buyers at auction are finding it difficult to arrange for transport despite the fact tea is listed as an essential commodity. Drivers are in short supply and enforcement of restrictions that prohibit inter-district transport is inconsistent. The immediate impact is a spike in retail prices above records set in 2020. Buyers at auction are spending an average of INRs211 per kilogram in Assam and INRs125 per kilo in Tamil Nadu.

    Biz Insight – There is no slack in demand for tea. Tata Consumer Products reports that revenue from its beverage segment (which includes coffee) grew by 59.6% during the period January-March 2021. Volume was up 23% largely due to an increase in at-home consumption. India’s packaged tea market is estimated at $2.26 billion. An additional $1.3 billion is spent on tea from unbranded suppliers, according to ICICI Securities.

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    Avoid the chaos of social media and start a conversation that matters. Subtext’s message-based platform lets you privately ask meaningful questions of the tea experts, academics and Tea Biz journalists reporting from the tea lands. You see their responses via SMS texts which are sent direct to your phone. Visit our website and subscribe to Subtext to instantly connect with the most connected people in tea.

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  • Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 20

    Hear the Headlines

    | Pandemic Powers Organic Sales
    | Tea Cafes Cautiously Re-opening
    | Tata Expands Direct-to-Customer Range
    | Buyers Spend Big at Chinese International Tea Expo

    Seven-minute News Recap

    India Tea Price Watch | Sale 21


    Tea Biz this week travels to Japan where the Japan Tea Central Council and the Global Japanese Tea Association are organizing a Tea Marathon during the Tokyo Olympics so that enthusiasts worldwide can better appreciate the great variety of tea grown there

    … and then onto Vancouver, British Columbia, where Jessica Woollard leads a virtual tour of Chinatown, a Canadian National Historic Site, and the location of the Treasure Green Tea Company and the Chinese Tea Shop ? two of the best places to find authentic Chinese tea

    Japan Tea Maraton
    Discover new teas during the Japan Tea Virtual Marathon from July 23 through Aug. 8

    Japan Tea Marathon

    Virtual tour of 15 tea producing regions tracks Tokyo Olympics

    By Jessica Woollard

    The Japan Tea Marathon is a series of live online events featuring teas from 15 of Japan’s tea-producing regions. Zoom sessions begin July 23 and are held twice daily, concluding Aug. 8. Two hundred competing brewers and 1,000 regular admissions give the entire world of tea an opportunity to cheer their favorite to victory.

    Learn more…

    Simona Suzuki, née Zavadckyte, president of Global Japan Tea Association describes the upcoming marathon.
    Chinese Tea Shop
    The Chinese Tea Shop, Vancouver, BC

    The Charm of Vancouver’s Chinatown

    By Jessica Natale Woollard

    In 1981, Kwok Sun Cheung, an immigrant from Hong Kong, opened the first premium teashop in recent memory in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast.

    Catering primarily to immigrants from China, Mr. Cheung chose Vancouver’s Chinatown for the location of his shop. Now a National Historic Site, Vancouver’s Chinatown spans around six blocks and is located a short walk from Vancouver Harbour and the cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympic games. It is the third-largest Chinatown in North America, after New York and San Francisco.

    Today we are speaking with Olivia Chan, Mr. Cheung’s daughter at the Treasure Green Tea Co. and with Daniel Liu, owner of The Chinese Tea Shop.

    Read more…

    Jessica Natale Woollard takes listeners on a virtual of Vancouver’s Chinatwon

    Tea News you Need to Know

    Pandemic Powers Organic Food Growth
    Pandemic Powers Organic Food Growth

    Pandemic Powers Organic Sales

    By Dan Bolton

    The Organic Trade Association reports that US sales of organic food and beverages set a record in 2020, growing 12.4% to $62 billion. The total includes organic food, which grew by 12.8% to $56.4 billion. Import values for green tea also spiked, increasing 28% compared to 2019. Organically certified foods now account for almost 6% of total US food sales.

    The pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves, according to OTA, “the only thing that constrained growth in the organic food sector was supply.”

    Read more….

    Bettys Harrogate
    Century-old Bettys Harrogate as featured on Extraordinary Places To Eat by BBC Select

    Tea Retailers are Cautiously Re-Opening

    A tearoom in Texas, a tea café in Portland, and the Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco are now open for business. In Portland, the menu at the new Smith Teamaker Café features tea as a spice, an ingredient, and a beverage. In Montreal cafes with terraces opened May 28 and sit-down restrictions ended in Britain on June 2. Irish pubs, Dublin bars, and restaurants are open for outdoor dining on June 7. In Montreal the Café Myriade, Café Parvis, and Café Olimpico drew urban street crowds. Quaint tea rooms in small towns, like The Charleston Tea Room in Friendswood, Tex., a city of 39,000 near Houston, are seating guests after a year. Sadly, many did not survive the financial hardship caused by extended lockdowns. In many cases, these shops, like the one in Friendswood, will open with new owners. Möge Tee, a franchise bubble tea venture, will open two shops in New York City. Drive-thru HTeaO announced 11 new ice-tea franchise locations bringing its total to 41.

    Biz Insight – Sit-down restrictions ended in Britain this week, check out the video linked above from the series Extraordinary Places To Eat by BBC Select. The setting is afternoon tea at century-old Bettys Harrogate, one of six tea rooms in Yorkshire, UK.

    Tata Tea 1868
    Package illustrations for the Tata Tea 1868 collection

    Tata Expands Direct-to-Consumer Range

    Tata Consumer Products expanded its successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) range to include specialty coffee this week. The successful April launch of a DTC website featuring “1868 By Tata Tea” reinvigorated the 13-variety luxury tea selection, launched in January 2018 to commemorate the company’s 150th anniversary.  The teas are exclusively available online at www.tatatea1868.com

    Tata’s Puneet Das, president of packaged beverages for India and South Asia, said, “This is our entry into the direct to consumer commerce ecosystem which is a small but emerging space,” adding that “1868 is an example of our continuing investment in our brands as we innovate to create quality and distinctive products for our consumers.”

    Teas in the 1868 collection are sold in premium tins organized by origin and type. The 1868 Darjeeling Rare Wonder is priced at INRs 1,500 (about $20) for 50 grams, the Nilgiri Green Twirl at INRs 500.

    In February 2020 Tata reorganized how it brings its products to market, creating Tata Consumer Products, a Bengaluru-based integrated food, and beverage company that offers tea, coffee, bottled water, salt, pulses, spices, breakfast cereals, snacks, and ready-to-cook mixes.

    Biz Insight – Tata’s new DTC specialty coffee line is called Sonnets. It is sourced from the company’s south India farms. India is mainly an instant coffee filter market, says Tata’s Puneet Das who explains that Sonnets is targeted to QUOTE “a more discerning consumer looking for freshly ground roasted coffee delivered to their doorstep,” he said, adding, “With the prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns, consumers are seeking more coffee drinking occasions at home. This is especially true as cafes and coffee shops have remained off bounds during the pandemic.”

    Hubei Pavilion at China International Tea Expo

    China International Tea Expo

    Live tea expositions, seminars, and tradeshows are returning with vigor in China. The five-day China International Tea Expo (CTE) that opened in Hangzhou on International Tea Day (May 21) drew a crowd of 152,000 mainly domestic tea buyers. In aggregate they spent RMB6.4 billion purchasing 254 million tons of tea, a 14% increase compared to the previous event. The average value of transactions was up 20% to RMB223 million and orders topped 13,000.

    CTE is the largest tea exposition in China. Buyers collectively spent RMB6.4 billion purchasing 254 million tons of tea, a 14% increase compared to the previous event. The average value of transactions was up 20% to RMB223 million and the number of on-site orders topped 13,000. In 2019 there were 10,787 transactions, suggesting pent-up demand.

    The 2019 expo attracted 3,425 foreign buyers from 46 countries. In addition, there were nearly 200 foreign VIPs from 42 countries and international organizations. In 2021 only a few in-country foreign buyers attended as travel restrictions apply.

    Biz Insight – China’s borders remain closed to all but residents of these 23 countries. Travelers must provide proof of receiving a second of two shots at least 14 days prior to entry and they must present two negative tests PCR and antibody tests, taken within 48 hours of travel. Travelers are checked once again on arrival. Anyone failing the test will be isolated at a government facility. All others were quarantined for 14 days, often at home, an approved hotel, or a government facility. In some regions, the requirement is 14+7 (with the last seven days monitored by local community health officials). Entry restrictions are not likely to ease until February 2022 just before the Beijing Winter Olympics. The events are scheduled for February 4-20. Read more…

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  • Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 19

    Hear the Headlines

    | Tea History Collection Unveiled
    | Indian Commodities Logjam
    | THIRST Undertakes a Tea Human Rights Analysis
    | A Series of Major Quakes Rattle Yunnan

    Seven-minute News Recap

    India Tea Price Watch | Sale 19


    Tea Biz this week travels to Nepal to meet Aasha Bhandari the newly named International Trade and Promotion Executive at the Himalayan Tea Producers Cooperative

    …and to the North Carolina campus of Wake Forest University to learn from student William Liu why ancient teas and rituals retain their appeal with young people.

    Nepal Tea Garden
    Nepal is expanding the country’s tea growing regions to produce more specialty loose leaf tea.

    Himalaya Tea Opportunity

    Nepal Increases Production of Quality Specialty Teas

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Bengaluru

    Nepal’s tea industry reported record sales in 2020. The fabled tea land is growing greater quantities and greater varieties of loose and broken leaf teas thanks to a government-initiated expansion of the industry to high altitude gardens in non-traditional growing areas. Rural agrarian entrepreneurs are redefining offerings for an international market thirsty for the distinct taste of Himalayan grown oolongs, white teas, and premium black whole leaf. In this segment Aasha Bhandari, newly named to promote trade at the Himalayan Tea Producers Cooperative, discusses her plans for HIMCOOP.

    Read more…

    Aasha Bhandari discusses Nepal’s tea industry in transition.
    William Liu
    College sophomore William Liu founded the World Tea Association and To Tea Together podcast.

    Why Ancient Tea Appeals to Young People

    By Dan Bolton

    William Liu is a 20-year-old sophomore at Wake Forest University so inspired by tea that he and his classmates established the World Tea Association on campus and online. The group offers tea discovery and tasting sessions weekly and hosts occasional tea panels with presentations by tea professionals, tea scholars, and tea explorers. The events bring together many who are new to tea, says William “we aim to redefine the tea experience through an interdisciplinary approach and expose the true leaf to a greater audience.”

    In this discussion he describes why tea appeals to young people and explains his view that tea learning is ongoing. “The tea journey has no destination, he says, it involves only intention and lifelong learning.”

    Read more…

    William Liu on advancing our knowledge of the leaf.

    Tea News you Need to Know

    By Dan Bolton

    An extensive private collection of historical tea artifacts and modern facilities for meetings and tea research were unveiled on International Tea Day by Tea Ambassador Mike Bunston, OBE.

    The Tea History Collection, located in Banbury, Oxfordshire in the DCS Group complex, is the inspired work of entrepreneur Denys Shortt, OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). The facility, valued at £100,000 ($140,000) is open by appointment to tea-related organizations and academia. It is equipped with a tasting bar, high-speed internet, archive cabinets, a video-conference room and work areas.

    Shortt, who founded DCS in 1994, grew up on a tea estate in Assam. His family worked at gardens there for 20 years before moving to Africa where his father managed the Ikumbi Tea Factory in Thika, Kenya.

    “We do not believe there is anything like this in the world,” says Shortt. “We have items from Plantation House (now demolished) which was where the London Tea Auctions were held.” The collection of more than 500 items includes teas, books,  and sample cabinet with 200 tins containing teas dating to 1904. The collection will be maintained as a non-profit.

    Learn more….

    Commodities Logjam

    Fifty thousand in West Bengal are homeless this week due to a tropical cyclone that halted air traffic and port activity in Calcutta. Every link of India’s tea supply chain is under stress. Restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 are once again limiting the number of harvest workers in the gardens and reducing by half staffing at factories processing tea, while simultaneously forcing the cancellation of tea auctions… delaying transport and causing local warehouses to overflow.

    Truckers essential to transporting tea were virtually halted last year and while many delivering to cities face delays due to curfews that prevent unloading at night, local transport is much less problematic in 2021.

    The weak link in the commodities supply chain during the second wave are buyers who cannot easily judge what quantities are required for manufacturers and to meet varying retail demand. For example, Kochi-based spices trader Kishor Shamji told the Hindu Businessline that a lack of buying interest from masala manufacturers in upcountry markets has affected the sales of almost all spices, including pepper, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Meanwhile, traders worry that the tea they purchase to send overseas will experience costly shipping fees and delays. Last year’s first wave dealt urban areas the hardest blow but in 2021 it is rural areas that suffer.

    Biz Insight – In India, as in many countries, mandatory lockdowns and health concerns have accelerated sales of tea. A survey of 22,000 rural small market stores known collectively as Kirana revealed a 140% increase in tea sales. Sales of hand sanitizers that appeared near the top of the list last year are flat but sales of soap increased by 50%, according to StoreKing. Pest and mosquito repellent experienced a 200% increase and comfort snacks and biscuits are up 83%.

    Assessing Human Rights in Tea

    THIRST The International Round Table for Sustainable Tea, is launching a three-year program to analyze the root causes of human rights breaches in the tea industry and come up with an action plan for how to solve them.

    Founder Sabita Banerji objects to “rights assessments” which have a negative connotation she favors an “impact analysis.” Banerji calls it a ‘constructive solution-oriented approach’.

    The program will document conditions for workers and farmers and identify problems “but more importantly, what can be done to address these problems,” said Banerji. The first step is to consolidate existing research and then conduct in-depth studies where there are gaps, providing a global picture of the interdependencies of tea.

    Read more on the Tea Biz blog.

    A Series of Major Quakes Rattle Yunnan

    Three major earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks damaged 14,000 structures, killed three people and seriously injured 28 in Yunnan Province last week. The first in the series struck Dali located near the heart of the tea growing region. That deadly 6.0 magnitude quake on Tuesday was followed Friday by a much stronger 6.4 quake that damaged homes and forced rescuers to pull several people from under debris. Five hours later a 7.4 temblor located in adjacent Yangbi [YANg BY] rattled Yunnan again.

    The steep mountainous region, subject to landslides, is jittery about quakes. In 2008 a 7.9 earthquake centered in Sichuan province killed 87,000 people and left 4.2 million homeless, causing $150 billion in damage.

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