“Despite Uncounted Problems Indian Tea Industry Emerges With A New Hope” - Agrovista Profits Latest Agriculture News and Updates


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Thursday, December 15, 2016

“Despite Uncounted Problems Indian Tea Industry Emerges With A New Hope”

“Despite Uncounted Problems Indian Tea Industry  Emerges With A New Hope” 

Image source; indianholiday.com 

Tea is commonly consumed as a stimulant and as a refreshing drink at different times of the day. Besides its immediate benefits, tea provides invaluable long-term benefits to the human body, which are a subject of ongoing research. All four varieties of tea – black, green, white, and oolong – possess remarkable disease-fighting properties.   

The Origin of Tea;
Tea drinking in China has its earliest references in connection to the mythical emperor Shennong, who is regarded as the father of Chinese medicine and agriculture. Shennong is said to have tasted hundreds of wild herbs, including tea leaves, to ascertain their medicinal value. According to this legend, the discovery of tea dates back to around 2700 B.C., the era in which Shennong is said to have lived.
During the late Western Han dynasty (1st century B.C.), The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic, a book attributed to Shennong, includes a reference to tea. This suggests that even at this early point in history much knowledge about tea had already been accumulated. In 59 B.C., Wang Bao, of Sichuan Province, wrote the first known book providing instructions on buying and preparing tea - entitled A Contract with a Servant - establishing that tea was not only an important part of the diet but that it was a commonly traded commodity at this time. This book is said to be the first written reference to tea utensils. At the time, tea drinking was still a luxury enjoyed by the elite classes of Chinese society.
During the Tang dynasty (around 760), writer Lu Yu wrote Cha Jing (The Classic of Tea), an early work on the subject. The book's opening passage is about tea's origins in the south, showing that this has been a long-held theory.
Tea's Transmission to India and Its Entry into Indian Culture;
Tea bush is supposed to be indigenous to China but it was reported by Major Robert Bruce in 1823 that indigenous tea bushes grew wild on the hill slopes of upper Assam. In the year 1840, tea seeds were imported from China and commercial tea plantations were set up in the Brahmaputra valley.
To begin with, tea plantations were confined to Upper Assam only but later on, new areas such as lower Assam and Darjeeling were also opened up to tea plantations and by 1859, there were 30 tea plantations in Assam alone. Later on, tea plantations were also set up in Nilgiri Hills of South India, Tarai along the foothills of the Himalayas and in some places in Himachal Pradesh.
An overview of the Indian Tea Industry;
Currently, tea industry provides employment to one million workers. Through its forward and backward linkages, another 10 million people derive their livelihood from tea. It is one of the largest employers of women in organized industries of India. Women constitute over 50 percent of the total workforce.
By building on a proud legacy of enterprise that spanned nearly two and a half centuries, India has acquired an exalted status on the global tea map. The country is the second largest tea producer in the world. Interestingly, India is also the world's largest consumer of black tea with the domestic market consuming 911 million kg of tea during 2013-14. India is ranked fourth in terms of tea exports, which reached 232.92 million kg during 2015-16 and were valued at US$ 686.67 million.
The top export markets in volume terms for 2015-16 were Russian Federation (48.23 million kg), Iran (22.13 million kg) and Pakistan (19.37 million kg). In terms of value, the top export markets were Russian Federation (US$ 102.48 million), Iran (US$ 87.39 million) and UK (US$ 62.8 million). All varieties of tea are produced by India. While CTC accounts for around 89 percent of the production, orthodox/green and instant tea account for the remaining 11 percent.
Production of tea reached 1,233.14 million kg in 2015-16. Around 1,008.56 million kg was produced in North India and 224.58 million kg was produced in South India.
India has around 563.98 thousand hectares of area under tea production, as per figures for December 2013. Tea production is led by Assam (304.40 thousand hectares), West Bengal (140.44 thousand hectares), Tamil Nadu (69.62 thousand hectares) and Kerala (35.01 thousand hectares). According to estimates, the tea industry is India's second largest employer. It employs over 3.5 million people across some 1,686 estates and 157,504 small holdings; most of them women.

Different Tea Varieties in India;

·        Darjeeling Tea 
 Darjeeling tea is sold at very high premiums in the international market due to its Muscatel flavor (or a musky spiciness). Darjeeling tea has a geographical indication (GI) status that is protected worldwide. The GI status has been provided to only 87 tea gardens in the region that produce around 10,000 tons of tea annually.  It  is light color tea and rates started with 650 – 20,00/= rupees per kg

·        Assam Tea 

Tea from Assam has a rich, full-bodied, deep amber liquor with a brisk, strong and malty taste, making it ideal for the early morning cup. Second flush orthodox Assam teas are extremely popular for their distinctive taste and bright liquor. Tea plantations in Assam grow the Camelia Sinensis var Assamica variety of the tea plant. Assam is the only region globally where tea is grown in plains, and also the only other region apart from Southern China, which grows its own native tea plant.Rates of Assam tea ranges from 350 to 550/= rupees per kg.

·        Nilgiri Tea 

Nilgiri tea is named after the Nilgiris, or the Blue Mountains, where it is grown at elevations ranging from 1,000 meters to 2,500 meters The weather conditions provide Nilgiri teas with a characteristic briskness, exceptional fragrance, and exquisite flavor. The liquor is golden yellow in color, provides a creamy taste in the mouth, and has notes of dusk flowers. Nilgiri tea produced in the state of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. Its price ranges from 300 – 400 /= rupees per kg.

·        Kangra and Uttarakhand Tea 

Mainly produced in Kangra Dist. Of Himachal Pradesh and in Garhwal and Kumaun regions of Uttarakhand. This tea is medium toned with a clean fragrance and produces an earthy reddish, full-bodied liquor in the cup.

·        CTC Tea

Most of us drink this kind of tea The production technology of this type of tea is cutting, twisting, and curling (CTC)  the byproduct of CTC tea is in form of dust which is used to produce dip tea.

However, things are not so bright as it seems to be. The Tea industry is gradually sinking since last 50 years due to various problems being faced by it. In fact, low wages, poor infrastructure, poor housing, health issues and lack of avenues for social mobility have been common problems since the inception of tea plantations in  India.

There are many tea gardens which have closed down in recent years due to various problems affecting the industry  Despite of these facts Indian tea industry during the year 2015 -2015 has achieved a remarkable growth which broken the tea export record of the last 50 years with a record production of 123.11 million kg.
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