The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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White tea adds new flavour to Harrods

Calcutta, Aug. 1: Harrods, the famous department store in the UK, wants to offer a “different” kind of Indian tea to the 35,000 customers who visit the store everyday.

Harrods has procured ‘white tea’ from Assam Company, which will be available at its Knightsbridge store. Harrods is a regular buyer of conventional Assam and Darjeeling tea.

White tea fetches almost € 60/kg (Rs 4000/kg) in the UK and European markets. Assam Company has produced three tonnes of white tea and the entire volume has been sold out.

Harrods is keen to pick up more tea with a “different” flavour from Assam Company.

As publicity, Harrods usually develops an interesting story for every “different” product introduced so that customers try them out.

Arun Grover, deputy chief operating officer (marketing and strategy) of Assam Company, said, “Harrods has bought our white tea. They have assured us they will pick up more tea if we produce it. There are takers for white tea in Germany and China too.”

White tea is not prepared from the conventional two leaves and a bud. Only the bud is used here. It has a unique rolled leaf appearance and texture, which has the delicate aroma and flavour of hand-rolled tea after it is brewed. The brewed tea has a light colour.

“White tea, which comes from the second flush, is picked early in the morning. Based on the encouraging response from foreign buyers we plan to start producing white tea on a commercial basis,” Grover said.

He added that exports of single estate tea in bulk and unique packaging formats had already found its way into top global stores such as Harrods, Fortnums, Mitsukoshi and Claridges.

With the softening of prices both in the domestic and global markets and the growing need to de-commoditise tea, Assam Company has decided to re-create and redefine markets.

The historical model of manufacturing and selling tea as a commodity cannot be the growth plan for a company, Grover said.

Assam Company is setting up tea bars under the brand name Camellia at the major clubs in Calcutta. the first such bar has been set up at Saturday Club.

The company is looking at the tea bar business as a ‘stand alone’ profit centre for the future. Grover said the company will develop the tea bar business into a strategic business unit. The company produces 17 million kgs of tea and exports about 32-35 per cent of the produce.

With regional players mushrooming and, in fact, offering better value than the larger players, companies have to reengineer the supply chain and redefine product offerings. Brand laddering becomes key, thus providing every consumer a relevant quality at a relevant price point.

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