Assam Green Tea at Record Price

An orthodox organic green tea produced in Assam set a record price of INRs 2501 ($39) per kilo at auction last week – a remarkable benchmark given that it was purchased for domestic re-sale.

WTN150615_DehaTeaEstate_witheringTeas sold for export often bring 100-times the price of India’s domestic tea. It is not unusual for Japanese, European or North American buyers to offer $400 per kilo wholesale for a highly rated organic tea. This is because consumers in foreign markets willingly pay retail prices of $300 to $600 per kilo ($15 to $30 per 50-gram pouch) for a first-flush Darjeeling, for example.

Indian tea drinkers typically pay less than 15-cents for 50 grams of quality tea and 25- to 30-cents for a cup from a chaiwalla (tea vendor) on the street.

The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) is located in the heart of Assam where much of the world’s CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea is grown. The Brahmaputra Valley is known for its vast estates producing black tea. Green tea is a relatively new style that is growing in popularity. The 21-kilo lot was the first organic green tea auctioned at GTAC. It was grown on the Deha Tea Estate near Jorhat and purchased by Guwahati-based Madhuban Tea Company, according to a report in The (Calcutta) Telegraph. The broker was J. Thomas & Co., the largest tea broker in India.

“There are customers who are ready to pay for good tea,” said Rohit Surana of Planter’s Choice who plans to sell the tea at his shop, the Assam Tea Hub. “Not all the good tea is exported.  I keep expensive teas known for top quality,” he said. To protect its domestic market India charges a very high tariff on tea imported from China and Japan. Vendors like Planter’s Choice are carving out a niche for expensive teas.

“I am speechless and totally taken aback after I got the news that it has sold for INRs 2,501 a kg,” Bikash Agarwal, director, Deha Tea Estate, told The Telegraph. “This should inspire others in the state to make good green teas and send it to auctions as they now know it will fetch a good price,” he said.

He said the price will “certainly boost” the reputation of Assam. By comparison, the highest price paid in 2014 was INRs 402 ($6.28) per kilo for a CTC produced at the Halmari Tea Estate in Dibrugarh.

Krishan Katyal, chairman and managing director of J. Thomas, told the newspaper, “This is an absolutely outstanding price and the producers deserve a pat on the back.”
Source: The (Calcutta) Telegraph

Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.