• India Tea News: Guwahati Hosts BATIC 2024 to Celebrate 200 Years of Assam Tea | Artisanal Assamese Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi Passes Away

    By Aravinda Anantharaman | Managing Editor

    India Tea News for the week ending 2nd Feb 2024
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman
    BATIC 2024 | Assam Bi-Centenary Celebration

    Assam Celebrates 200 Years of Tea

    Ahead of the Intergovernmental Group on Tea’s meeting in Guwahati, Assam, the Tea Research Association hosted a 2-day Bicentenary Assam Tea International Conference as part of the bicentennial celebrations of the Assam tea industry. It took place on the 29th and 30th at the Radisson Blu, Guwahati, and saw close to 400 people from the industry, including guests from the global tea industry representing 25 countries, in attendance. While it was an event that brought people from the tea trade under one roof, there was also a series of discussions on current preoccupations in tea, including regenerative agriculture, marketing Indian tea, the small tea grower segment, and new technologies and innovations in tea. Keynote speakers were James Grayland of Wanlin Teahouse, Shanghai, and Nitin Saluja of Chaayos.

    In Memoriam: Maddhurjya Gogoi, tea farmer

    Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi,46, passed away suddenly on 31st January 2024 after suffering a cerebral stroke. Maddhurjya was a pioneer in the artisanal tea sector in Assam, running Assam Teehaus, a direct-to-market brand of craft tea. His teas have earned rave reviews across the world. Maddhurjya’s contribution to Assam tea is significant, as is his relentless pursuit of organic specialty tea making. Maddhurjya is survived by his mother and two young children.

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      India Tea News: Guwahati Hosts BATIC 2024 to Celebrate 200 Years of Assam Tea | Artisanal Assamese Tea Farmer Maddhurjya Gogoi Passes Away | Ep 153 |
  • UN Plans Global #TeaPower Promotion | Tea Advice Taken with a Grain of Salt | China Reports Tea Exports Declined in 2023

    UN #TeaPower Promotion Targets Younger Generations | Tea Advice Taken with a Grain of Salt | China Reports Tea Exports Declined in 2023

    Tea News for the week ending January 26, 2024
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-Minute Tea News Recap
    India Tea News | Aravinda Anantharaman

    The Toronto Tea Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend. The Tea Guild of Canada and Tao Tea Leaf are co-founders and sponsors of the event. Organizers expect a big crowd to attend educational presentations, cultural demonstrations, and competitions, and there will be products on display from 50 tea vendors, large and small. Rita Fong helped organize the inaugural event. She is a director and manages social media and marketing of what is now the largest tea festival in Canada. She joins us on the Tea Biz Podcast to share insights on this event’s staying power and growing popularity.

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    Toronto Tea Festival Social Media and Marketing Director Rita Fong

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    UN FAO Tea Power
    UN FAO Promotes #TeaPower

    #TeaPower Marketing Campaign Targets Young Tea Drinkers

    By Roopak Goswami
    The Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Intergovernmental Group (FAO IGG) on Tea will launch a global health-focused promotional campaign targeting younger consumers looking for an alternative to sugary drinks.

    “There has been a global increase in consumer awareness of a healthy lifestyle, and dietary habits are changing in response to known linkages between diet and health. However, many campaigns are focused on health benefits that address the concerns of older generations,” the UN agency on tea said in a background paper on Tea and Health, slated for discussion at the 25th session of FAO IGG.

    Ajay Jalan, former president of the Tea Association of India, said, “In current times, health and wellness have become central factors in consumer choices, offering a unique opportunity for the tea industry to tap into new consumer markets, especially among Gen Z and millennials.”
    Tea Biz correspondent Roopak Goswami writes that the gathering provides a forum for intergovernmental consultation and exchange on trends in production, consumption, trade, and the price of tea, including a regular appraisal of the global market situation and short-term outlook.

    Read More
  • World Tea Expo Announces Tea Tycoon Competitors and “Best of Award” Finalists

    Expo "Best of Awards" Named
    World Tea Conference + Expo “Best of Awards” Named

    Tea News for the week ending March 10

    World Tea Conference + Expo Announces “Best of” Award Finalists

    | Pakistan is Willing to Barter Rice for Kenyan Tea
    | Teaware Manufacturers Adopt Consumer to Manufacturer (C2M) Business Model Pioneered by Fast-Fashion
    | Study Suggests an EGCG-based Therapy for Treating Alzheimer’s 

    | PLUS Entrepreneurs Three-Minute Meditation with Tea

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  • Pakistan’s Economic Crisis Threatens Mombasa-based Tea Trade

    Port Karachi
    Millions of kilos of tea remain stranded at the Port in Karachi, Pakistan

    Tea News for the week ending March 3

    | Pakistan Willing to Barter Rice for Kenyan Tea
    | Asahi Launches SOU, its First New Tea Brand in Decades
    | Tatcha Unveils Virtual Forest Bathing and Meditation Experience

    | PLUS Tea Processing Reimagined: Extruded Tea

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    Seven-minute Tea News Recap
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    Pakistan Offers to Barter Rice to Resolve Tea Import Impasse with Mombasa Tea Suppliers

    Containers of tea from Africa have been piling up at the port of Karachi since December, with more on the way, but for the first time in months, ships are unloading at a brisk pace. The government needs $1 billion immediately and $8.5 billion to pay the country’s fuel bills.

    Pakistan customs officials estimate that 95% of the 8,500 containers in port await letters of credit, including almost 5 million kilos of tea in 300 containers shipped from Africa.

    The logjam is preventing billion of dollars worth of raw materials from reaching manufacturers. During the weekend of March 12, port authorities processed 1,024 inbound containers and 2,553 containers filled with long-delayed exports essential to offset a $48.4 billion trade deficit.

    Honda, Suzuki, and Indus Motor assembly lines are closed or curtailed due to severe disruption to their supply chains. Shipping agents this week advised Pakistan that foreign shipping lines will halt services if the backlog is not resolved. DHL announced it would scale back operations, suspend imports, and limit outbound shipments.

    Tea retail prices surged by Rs1000 to Rs1,600 per kilo leading to the celebration of Ramazan on March 22. Prices could go as high as Rs2,500 per kilo (about $9.50 per kilo), according to Zeeshan Maqsood, an executive member of the Pakistan Tea Association(PTA). Maqsood told the Dawn Newspaper that delays in processing bank documents lead to shortages and higher prices as retailers ration supplies.

    Last year Pakistan purchased 234 million kilos of tea from Kenya. To resolve the impasse, Islamabad offered Kenya 150,000 metric tons of rice for tea of equivalent value. Mombasa traders welcomed the swap, according to East African Tea Trade Association (ETTA) Managing Director Edward Mudibo. He told Business Daily Africa, “We welcome this arrangement because it will work in our favor given the economic situation in Pakistan.”

    Africa supplies 90% of Pakistan’s black tea imports, and Pakistan, in turn, supplies Afghanistan with 87% of its tea. In 2023 Pakistan’s tea market is expected to generate $1.12 billion, a 4.3% decline, according to Statista market research. Pakistan and Egypt buy 55% of Kenya’s tea exports annually, but sales have steeply declined since November, according to EATTA.

    Pakistan is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to unlock the next tranche of $1.1 billion of a $6.5 billion bailout agreed upon in 2019.

    New Asahi SOU bottled green tea

    Asahi Launches First New Tea Brand in Decades

    Beverage giant Asahi expects to sell 60 million bottles of SOU this year. The innovative Icho-style unsweetened partially fermented green tea launches on April 4.
    Asahi surveyed 12,000 people over two years to discover that the taste preferences of Japanese consumers have changed from slightly bitter green tea to teas with “high aroma and crisp flavor.”

    This is Japan writes that the country’s top tea master Yasuyuki Suda was commissioned to develop a “high aroma tea that meets the needs of the times,” writes the company. The tea will be available in 620ml and 2-liter PET bottles developed exclusively for Asahi.

    According to the International Tea Committee, Japan is the eighth-largest tea-consuming country in the world. Green tea accounts for 15% of sales volume. It is also a popular export. Leading brands include Kirin, Suntory, and Ito En. In 2021 the export value of Japanese tea reached more than 20 billion yen, doubling since 2015. The top destination was the U.S., accounting for half the total.

    Asahi is known for its international beer brand but also owns Mitsuya, a traditional steamed tea brand that dates to 1884, and Wonda, an RTD tea launched in 1991. Wonda’s product range includes black, green, and oolong teas, bottled coffee, and fruit blends.

    Asahi Holdings earned $25.1 billion in the fiscal year ending January.

    BIZ INSIGHT – Japanese consumers drink more bottled tea than all carbonated beverages combined. Kirin developed the world’s first canned tea in the 1960s. Kirin Namacha, a heat-treated green tea, was sold in small, 150ml cans that became a staple in Japan’s vending machines by the 1970s. Bottled teas were first introduced in the US in the 1980s by Lipton and Nestea and are now the top-selling format in Japan.

    Japanese Hinoki “Virtual” Cypress Forest

    Tatcha Unveils Virtual Forest Bathing and Meditation Experience

    The Japanese company, with offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and the UK, currently hosts an online meditation set in a virtual cypress forest.

    Touring the virtual store provides insights into “shinrin-yoku,” the ritual of connecting to nature through the senses. The destination is an onsen wellness resort with a ceremonial tearoom, hot tub, and meditation led by Toryo Ito, a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and brand ambassador.

    Last week the metaverse forest came to life as a three-day Los Angeles pop-up that introduced visitors to forest bathing in a setting that resembled a Japanese Hinoki Forest. The occasion was launching of Tatcha’s Forest Awakening skincare collection at Sephora.

    Online visitors are introduced to the body wash and skincare products in a natural setting enhanced by the simulated forest with sounds of running hot springs and varying shade as they “walk” about the forest and spa.

    Olga Dogadkina, co-founder and CEO at Emperia, the software company that created the metaverse experience, told Chain Store Age, “Virtual stores are becoming an extension of the brand, one that allows retailers to tell a story as no other media could.”
    Tatcha offered a line of green tea-based cosmetics and developed a “Renewal Tea” blend of Japanese Pine and Mulberry created by Japanese blender Hagugendo tea to accompany the campaign. The tea sells for $14 for 20g in 8 tea bags.

    International Taste Institute Awards Two Starts to Mount Everest Fruit Tea Blend

    Brussels Judges Present “Berry Gang” a Superior Taste Award – the equivalent of two Michelin Stars

    Kirchner, Fischer & Co. Managing Director Stefan Gieschke said the winning tea was blind-tasted by 200 well-known chefs and sommelier judges who evaluated hundreds of teas for color, brilliance, fragrance, complexity, character, mouthfeel and finish, among other criteria.

    “We always knew that our teas are top class! That’s how self-confident we are with 230 years of company history,” said Gieschke. “Now we have it written in black on white or better, yet — gold on white!

    The Institute’s expertise is recognized worldwide, and it has been tasting, judging, and evaluating food and beverages from more than 130 countries for over 20 years.

    Download the award

    Since 1793 excellence was a matter of fact as we face the most critical jury in the world: our customers — but now also the jury of the International Taste Institute agrees,” he said.

    “We are beyond proud of this amazing result and dedicate a lot of applause and a double page of attention in our catalog,” said Gieschke.


    Adaptable Extruded Tea

    Narendranath Dharmaraj, a 40-year tea industry veteran in Kerala, India, has developed an economical technique that rids tea of its stringy fiber skeleton resulting in a substrate superior to fannings and dust. Extruded tea is a malleable hybrid format that retains the fragrance of well-made, orthodox tea. The adaptable substrate can be blended to improve conventional CTC or pressed and die-cut to resemble broken-leaf grades. Imagine 3D-printed tea in myriad shapes and sold at a premium.

    Extruded tea
    Pneumatically semi-orthodox processed extruded tea

    Tea Manufacture: Futuristic Development Opportunities

    By Narendranath Dharmaraj

    Not much has changed in tea manufacturing in this traditional and tradition-bound industry. Orthodox, as it means, is the original production method of tea with a typically twisted leaf appearance and liquor characteristics delivering flavor and aroma. Such teas are best brewed by steeping in boiled water for a few minutes and typically yield fewer cups per unit weight of tea, described as ‘cuppage.’ Normally the withering is hard, meaning more moisture is removed from the leaf. The withered leaf is subjected to gentle and limited maceration in gently rotating rollers to express just enough juice to impart the aroma and flavor over longer periods of ‘fermentation.’ The target is to maximize the whole leaf and rolled nutty leaf grades which typically result from a combination of finer green leaf quality and careful adherence to manufacturing parameters (many of the ‘specialty teas’ are in these grades). Read more…

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  • Logistics Companies Invest to Right the Ship

    Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 25

    | Logistics Companies Invest to Right the Ship
    | Kenya’s Newly Elected KTDA Board Ousts Executives
    | Hain Celestial Streamlines its Tea Selections

    Hear the Headlines

    Seven-minute Tea News Recap
    Tea Price Report

    A special auction conducted by the Tea Board of India across auction centers featured a carefully curated catalog of teas plucked on International Tea Day on 21st May. This special sale saw record prices that brought welcome energy and excitement to the industry. Read more…


    Tea Biz this week travels to Darjeeling, India, where Dorje Tea, an innovative new tea venture, is taking root at the Agarwal family’s ancestral farm at Selim Hill Tea Garden … and then to the Jersey Isles off the coast of France, where Alicia Gentili, project manager and tea maker at Jersey Fine Tea, discusses the challenges and rewards of establishing a new tea garden in the English Channel.

    Dorje Tea co-founders Sparsh Agarwal and Ishaan Kanoria, at right.

    Reviving Darjeeling

    By Aravinda Anantharaman

    Sparsh Agarwal is the fourth generation in his family to cultivate tea in the Himalayas, but, as you will hear, he is not bound by tradition. Agarwal and Dorje Tea co-founder Ishaan Kanoria are targeting India’s domestic market, offering a subscription model that delivers Darjeeling tea from all four plucking seasons, improving profitability and giving Selim Hill Tea Garden a second chance.  Read more…

    Sparsh Agarwal on marketing Darjeeling’s seasonality domestically
    Alicia Gentili, project manager and tea maker at Jersey Fine Teas

    Splendid Tea from the Isle of Jersey

    By Dananjaya Silva | PMD Silva

    Camellia sinensis is a versatile plant grown in many parts of the world, observes Tea Biz correspondent Dananjaya Silva. At 49 degrees latitude, Jersey, the largest Channel Islands between England and France, is much further north than traditional tea lands. Yet, the island is proving fertile ground to produce fine loose-leaf tea. Silva talks about the challenges of growing tea outside its comfort zone with project manager and maker Alicia Gentili from Jersey Fine Tea. Read more…

    Alicia Gentili on growing tea on the English Channel Island of Jersey
    MSC Ship
    MSC operates the world’s second-largest container fleet by TEU

    Logistics Companies Invest to Right the Ship

    By Dan Bolton

    Shortages of raw ingredients for beverages and higher shipping costs continue the supply chain woes into summer. Last week, Starbucks’ customers found green tea in short supply, chai tea bags, and oat milk. No single item has disappeared from the menu, but Reuters found temporary shortages at nine major fast-service chains are widespread.

    Less obvious are the costs passed along due to more expensive air and sea transport and a shortage of truckers. According to the Drewry Freight Rate Index, reserving a 40-foot container to ship tea from Shanghai to Los Angeles cost $6,368 in June. Delivery to Chicago from Shanghai normally takes 35 days (including 33 at sea) but shippers now estimate 73 days for delivery as port-to-destination times have doubled. When premiums are added to secure equipment and vessel space is included, the effective West Coast rate for landing tea from China is about $8,000 to $11,000 per FEU (forty-foot equivalent unit), according to the Journal of Commerce.

    At the consumer level, online orders for tea must now meet $50 and $75 thresholds to qualify for free shipping, and four-week delays are common. Observers predict that the kinks in the supply chain will persist through 2022.

    Biz Insight – Global container fleets are consolidating as shipping companies spend new-found money acquiring vessels and ordering containers. Swiss-owned MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) has acquired 70 ships since August and has an order book of 800,000 TEU for new ships. The buildup in demand shows no sign of abating as consumers spend pandemic savings and economies emerge from lockdowns.

    Kenya surge
    Kenya is home to 658,000 tea smallholders

    Newly Elected KTDA Board Ousts Executives

    Newly elected Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors and chairman David Muni Ichoho on June 22 were escorted by police to their offices in the KTDA headquarters in Nairobi.

    KTDA’s Peter Kanyago, who had been at the helm of the tea agency for 26 years, was forced to relinquish his position after he was unseated in a local election April 25. KTDA CEO Lerionka Tiampati and other senior staff were given compulsory leave. Ichoho announced an internal investigation to determine culpability for potential malpractice and possible abuse of office.

    Kenya’s tea farmers collectively own 66 of the nation’s tea factories. They contract with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to pay for what they produce and to market their tea.

    During the past two years local concerns about a ‘tea cartel’ and a new administration in Nairobi led to legislative reforms that permit factories to replace directors by conducting special elections. The previous system awarded votes by share. Board members found they only had to please the largest farmers. Now it’s one man, one vote. Ousted board members challenged the Tea Act, 2021 in court and consider any special elections conducted between March and May invalid.

    Ichoho’s first official act was to notify the organization to accord full recognition and cooperation to the new board as it takes over factory management, “We wish to assure all stakeholders that the operations of the group are running smoothly without any interruptions.”

    He told the Kenya News Agency that “Procurement contracts will also be reviewed to ascertain value for money and determine if the services and goods were obtained within the market benchmarks.”

    “The reform journey began in earnest on 14th January 2020, with the directives by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya, following outcry by over 658,000 farmers over dwindling fortunes as it became clear that the tea value chain governance structures had been captured by some individuals and groups of persons for their own selfish interests at the expense of the principal stakeholders – the tea farmers,” said Ichoho.

    He said KTDA abdicated their core responsibility of serving the best interests of the farmers.

    “It is against this background that shareholders made a decision to exercise their rights to make leadership changes with a view to charting a new direction towards a sustainable and profitable farming in tea sub-sector for smallholders. The farmers, towards this objective undertook to elect new leaders from the shareholders as Factory Directors and Board members for the KTDA Holdings,” Ichoho said.

    A spokesperson at a non-violent late-night protest predicted that a case before Kenya’s Constitutional Court would find the government’s actions unconstitutional and reinstate the old board.

    Ichoho said that all cases brought by or that have been filed by KTDA challenging the Crops Industry Regulations, 2020, and the Tea Act, 2021 will be discontinued with immediate effect.

    “The Company will support full implementation of the Tea Act 2020 and will no longer pursue avenues that are against the interest of over 600,000 small holder farmers,” according to the Kenya News Agency report.

    On June 18, 2021 KTDA elected the following: David Muni Ichoho as chairperson with board members, Michael Kamau Ngatia, Paul Mwangi Kagema, Enos Njiru Njeru, John Mithamo Wasusana, Geoffrey Chege Kirundi, Abungana Khasiani, Erick Kipeyegon Chepkwony, Thaddeus Mose Mangenya, James Ombasa Omweno, Wesley Cheruiyot Koech and Baptista Muriki Kanyaru.

    Patrick Ngunjiri was appointed Acting Company Secretary.

    Celestial Seasonings
    Celestial Seasonings offers 105 varieties of tea.

    Hain Celestial Simplifies Tea Selections

    US grocery stores enjoyed a strong 2020 and in 2021 pandemic stickiness is apparent for e-commerce convenience and at-home meals, according to Coresite Research which reports that as of June US retail store closures are down year-over-year for the first time since the initial lockdowns.

    Half of Americans now say they would feel “very comfortable” shopping in a physical store during the next three months, compared to 29% in the year-ago period according to SafetyCulture. When they return, consumers will discover that higher ingredient costs, packaging, shipping expense and eroding brand loyalty convinced food manufacturers to simplify their offerings.

    General Mills anticipates raising its prices 7% globally over the next year. “We are ending one period of significant consumer disruption only to start another,” Chief Executive Jeff Harmening told the Wall Street Journal. “The next few months will be especially critical for our brands as the world transitions to a new normal.”

    Tea manufacturer Hain Celestial has a big footprint in grocery with thousands of SKU (stock-keeping units) – far too many according to Mark L. Schiller, president and chief executive officer. Schiller told investors that shedding 20 brands, discontinuing 1,000 SKUs proactively before the pandemic and really simplifying the way we operate …” were the cornerstones of a simplification strategy that has increased margins.

    He told Food Business News that he is transitioning the $2 billion Hain Celestial Group from a holding company to an operating company. The new focus is on innovation vs. additional flavor varieties, he said.

    “So, instead of ‘here’s the 37th flavor of Sleepytime tea,’ ” he said, “we’re bringing tea with energy, tea with melatonin, tea with probiotics and gut health and immunity and things that are much more incremental in the category, cold brew tea, K-cups, things that really are going to help the retailer grow their category and therefore, earn their space.”

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