India May Brand its Tea with Unifying Seal

NEW DEHLI, India

The Tea Board of India has proposed a new seal that unifies the many types of India tea under a single brand. The colorful seal with the tag line "Celebrate Life!" is designed to enhance international recognition in the export market.

India Tea SealIndia currently recognizes three geographically identified (GI) tea growing regions. These are Assam, Darjeeling and teas grown in the Nilgiri Mountains, each is represented by a seal. Recently the European Union designated Darjeeling a geographical indicator among the food producing regions worldwide.

India's Tea Board recognizes the three regional seals and adds a fourth seal, depicting a woman carrying a basket of tea leaves. Tea grown in the Terai and Doors and in developing tea regions such as Bihar and Sikkim can display the India tea seal. Few of these teas are exported, but interest is growing and firms such as the Republic of Tea and Adagio Teas are highlighting for consumers the gardens in these regions.

Darjeeling tea and the seal it adopted decades ago is the most well-known of India's export teas, but it represents only 1 percent of the tea grown in the country. The seal of Darjeeling is copyrighted and trademarket in much of the world which means marketers seeking to use the seal must pay a license fee to the Darjeeling Tea Board. 

The India Tea Board hopes to raise the visibility of all India tea on the international market and to signal a unity of quality. Members of the Darjeeling Tea Association believe the new seal is unnecessary and say the seal will cause confusion.

A spokesman for the Darjeeling Tea Association told the Calcutta Telegraph, “The Darjeeling industry has a niche market and we are constantly working hard to safeguard the brand image. Our industry is very sensitive regarding this issue and we believe that if the Tea Board decides to promote all tea under the India Tea brand it would create confusion as ordinary tea drinkers are not much aware of the different brands. For many, India Tea might mean Darjeeling tea,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, principal adviser to the DTA.

Display will be optional according to the Tea Board, established regions are encouraged to use the seal but it will not be compulsory. Approval of the seal is expected in January.

Source: The Calcutta Telegraph

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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.