TEA - assorted stories




February 18b 2016

 This is a note written by Manoj Bob Khanna  to his old friend Shamol Ghosal who
is currently in Nigeria showing the problems of other countries taking advantage of
Indian teas
I am attaching herewith, some pictures I took, of some teas that are being sold in
UAE and the Gulf market, per se.
I am amazed to find that Darjeeling and Assam teas are being packaged in Iran,  
and being sold here in Dubai, Doha and where ever else!
What a damn shame
I have been living in the Gulf for the last 20 years, and since I hail from Calcutta,
and my Dad was working in the Tea industry, I have always looked for buying
Darjeeling off the shelves in this part of the world. Alas, I have been very
unsuccessful, as most of the teas available off the shelf here, have been the
standard tea bag variety.
So, for a person who has grown up on Darjeeling, I have always had to look to
my Calcutta trips, to buy bulk
The point I am getting to, is that, my take on this matter is that India does not
market it's premium teas well..just shows, as third parties are buying our
products and selling as their own, and at huge profits, which rightly should
be coming to India!
The Iranis find a hole in the market...buy Indian teas and re_export, and package
as their own, and market these in overseas markets!  This makes my blood boil!
I wish I was working for the Tea Board in Calcutta and could impart some
marketing expertise and market knowledge and intelligence on what runs in this
market and why India must understand that they have  a premium product that
is not being accorded the importance this deserves, and certainly not being
handled the way it should be.
I would love to market Indian premium teas...do a fantastic packaging effort,
build the romance of teas into my message to the target audience, and make
tea drinking the premium time pass in the world, and build on this steadily
This is again, just like Indian granite blocks being mined and taken by Italians
to Italy,  and then being sold as Italian granites to all other countries...shame!
And why blend, when you already have a winner product...Assam with Darjeeling
....I could not understand that??
Darjeeling is already a winner brand name, and as a marketer, I would never
change that...all tea connoisseurs
know that already..build on that..package the
teas well, and do a world-wide marketing campaign...and am sure, the Tea
industry in India could be doing much better, just like the cricket is now doing,
in our country!
My Dad worked 35 years for McLeod & Company Ltd., Calcutta, which was
Scottish Sterling Company, as you would know and I have grown up on the
"Margaret's Hope" versions, and what have you.....and to my mind, this is one
product line that has not been accorded the importance this deserves, by our
country and by the Tea Board, per se......it is akin to having the Kohinoor sitting
in your home and your not knowing what this "piece of glass" is?
As you are my "expert on Indian teas", I feel this inherent need to bring this up
with you, just to share my agony, as it were....

August 3 2015



The Colourful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s

                    Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler


  •                                             Written by  Jon Wright

The estates of Darjeeling produce less than one per cent of India’s tea and opinion is divided over the resulting beverage

Delicate Darjeeling is far from ideal, and much too expensive if all you’re after is a punchy cuppa that can withstand lots of milk and sugar. This, Jeff Koehler informs us, is the commonsensical stance of most Indians, which is why three-quarters of Darjeeling is exported.

In Japan and Germany, by contrast, the single-estate teas go down a storm and, the world over, self-styled connoisseurs describe it in terms usually reserved for fine wines. There are, we’re told, notes of apricot, toasted nuts and Muscat grapes. The stuff can sell for astronomical prices and it can inspire decidedly rhapsodic prose. Koehler is not immune to this temptation: Darjeeling, ‘like the finest female vocalists, can carry body as well as subtlety and grace.’ Blimey.

The history of this elixir turns out to be fascinating. Koehler does a wonderful job of recounting the establishment of British tea-cultivation in 19th century India. There was a conspicuous cultural agenda at play. As one contemporary put it, producing fine tea on imperial soil would help to ‘pull down the haughty pride of China’. The trouble was, while India had indigenous tea aplenty, it could not match the finesse of the posher product from the Chinese hills. Some extraordinary tactics were required. These included sending agents to smuggle plants, seeds and trade secrets out of China.

The tiny region of Darjeeling, ‘jammed like a thumb’ between Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, was perfect for growing the subtler varieties of tea. There was a happy combination of climate, soil and altitude. The sparse local population showed little interest in the project but this did not deter the Europeans. Thousands of Nepalese workers were drafted in and estates were established despite the constant setbacks of disease.

Koehler paints vivid portraits of life among the European planters. They were, for the most part, of the middling sort – former shopkeepers, soldiers, and so forth – and they enjoyed a tipple. At the Darjeeling Planters’ Club there was a strict code for alcoholic consumption: beer from eleven in the morning, gin in the afternoon, and no whisky before sunset. Rules to live by, then as now.

Before we romanticise things, however, it is important to note that there was a darker side to the tea revolution in 19th century India. As Koehler makes very clear, it was part and parcel of imperial intrusion and expansion. Fortunes were made but ancient landscapes and cultures were turned upside down.

The Westerners did very well for an impressive period, but with Indian independence political factors prompted major change. From the late 1940s a large number of Europeans sold their estates to Indians (no bad thing) and those who remained faced new challenges in the 1970s: legislation limited the amount of foreign equity in any Indian-based company. The tea kept on coming, of course, although these days a host of dilemmas and uncertainties are on the horizon. Separatist turmoil in the region is not good for business and the spectre of ecological change looms large: the monsoons are stronger and the temperatures are rising. Most importantly, the basic model of Darjeeling production provokes headaches. It is extraordinarily labour-intensive and time-consuming. 22,000 hand-plucked shoots are required for a single kilo, and the processes of cultivation and refinement are mind-bogglingly precise. Sustaining the interest of a highly-skilled but poorly-paid workforce is proving difficult and levels of absenteeism are soaring. It is hard to blame the truants.

The future of Darjeeling is therefore uncertain but there are some signs of hope. An awful lot of tea has been falsely sold as Darjeeling but this most famous of teas now enjoys the legal geographical protection status afforded to something like Parmesan cheese. This will presumably deter some of the fraudsters.

Ultimately, though, Koehler shows that the Darjeeling industry can only thrive if it becomes as sustainable and equitable as possible. A luxury product that still captivates gastronomic imaginations and helps to create a profession as bizarre as that of the tea sommelier has a fighting chance of success.

DARJEELING: The Colourful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler; Bloomsbury; £20 (hardback)

This review was published in the August 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine



May 19 2015

-TYPhoo tea founder John Tustain dies, aged 100

A leading light in Birmingham’s then thriving tea trade has died at the age of 100.


Typhoo Tea managing director John Tustain, left, and works director Fred Parkin.

A leading light in Birmingham’s then thriving tea trade has died at the age of 100.

Tributes have been paid to former Typhoo Tea managing director John Tustain, who oversaw the firm’s merger with Schweppes in 1968, and then a further merger with Bournville confectionery giant, Cadbury’s, to create the food and beverage giant, Cadbury Schweppes in 1969.

Mr Tustain who was also a past fellow of the Institute of Directors and president of the Birmingham branch of the Institute of Marketing, died on October 26.

He succeeded his father Alfred – who worked alongside founder John Sumner – on the Typhoo board. He became a major face in the sector, as president of the Tea Buyers’ Association and chairman of the UK Tea Council.  

His son Brian said the merger with Schweppes at that time showed their considerable and collective business acumen.

He said: “In 1968, it was announced to the markets, that Typhoo Tea had completed a merger with Schweppes, a London-based soft drinks company, with an international brand product portfolio. The two businesses were similar in size and on the face of it, immense sales and distribution benefits for both brands.

“With his chairman and good friend Harry Kelly, together they led the negotiations with skill and efficiency and all in unique and utmost secrecy – it was to prove a masterstroke of business strategy in view of timing and the rise of the supermarkets and their immense buying power.

“John, with Harry, were appointed directors of the new business, along with Harry’s son, David Kelley. The new company, Typhoo Schweppes was born, valuing Typhoo Tea then, in excess of £45 million.”

Mr Tustain was later appointed as vice chairman of Cadbury Schweppes after the further merger just one year later.

Son Brian added: “Cadbury Typhoo developed through the 1970s as a leading food and beverage manufacturer. John recalled one of his major successes was acquiring the Kenco Coffee Company, at the time a London-based coffee roaster owned by the Trust Houses Group, for £2 million, a bargain considering the value of this brand today.  

“There were also downsides; and I remember him recalling the dark and very upsetting day of announcing the closure of the Kardomah business based in Liverpool.

“He never shirked his responsibilities and personally travelled to the factory to make the announcement to all the staff in person.”

Mr Tustain was a keen sportsman, golfer, runner, hockey player and cricketer, educated at Solihull School and Downing College Cambridge.

He was also a much-loved family man. He married Doris in 1946 and they had three children who survive him today, Rosemary, Nigel and Brian. After Doris died in 1982, he married Peggy Staples. She died in 2006. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

“A true Brummie, whose passing marks the end of an era,” added his son Brian.



Aug 3 2014

       From the Daily Mail of April 19 2014

Super-Tea that boosts your love life

By Sophie Freeman

Scientists  claim to have found amphrodisiac properties in Himalayan Tea.

Moringa, or 'miracle tree', is being hailed as a superfood that not only provides energy

and helps the imune system, but can aslo increase sexual desire.

A study of the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science found

the plant,
 which grows in North India and North Africa, enhanced sexual behaviour in

rats. It is also known to contain chemical compounds called saponins, which have

 previously been shown to boost levels of the sex hormone testosterone.

Nutronist Daniel Herman said the anti inflammatory leaf's amphrodisiac effect

could be because it improves blood flow. He added that it is rich in Vitamins

A and C

The Editor has been told it should sell well