Foreigners drink white tea at Kohora in Kaziranga on Thursday.
Picture credit: Organic Small Tea Growers Association Assam
Guwahati, March 9: Assam handmade speciality tea has finally found a place to showcase its flavours to tourists and tea connoisseurs around the globe.
The Organic Small Tea Growers' Association, Assam, today opened its first retail outlet at Kohora, Kaziranga, which will sell handmade speciality tea. The debut was impressive as it could sell white tea, green tea to tourists worth nearly Rs 20,000 on the first day.
The first tea to be sold was a white tea. The varieties on offer are organic handcrafted green tea, white tea, dheki-made tea, Oolong and Phalap. A number of foreigners visited the shop and tasted it.
"We are all very happy to start our first retail outlet and we will grow strongly from here," Bhabendra Mohan Borgohain, secretary of the Organic Small Tea Growers Association, Assam, said.
Pradip Baruah, chief advisory officer (Assam), Tocklai Tea Research Institute, who was the chief guest at today's event, said this is a historic day for Assam tea. Assam's tea industry, since 1823, has witnessed significant events like recognition of Assam tea and first tea planting in 1835, establishment of first tea company in 1839, first tea plantation by indigenous Indian tea planter Maniram Dewan between 1842 and 1845, first tea auction in Guwahati in 1970, beginning of cultivation by small tea growers in late 1970s and launch of organic cultivation and handcrafted tea production towards the end of the last century and others.
He said the small tea growers are now producing about 30 to 32 per cent of Assam's total tea produce. A small percentage of them are organic producers while most of them produce handcrafted teas. Though they have a small but constantly developing market in India and abroad, proper marketing is one of the biggest problems faced by them.
Today's endeavour may be a game changer in marketing of the organic handcrafted teas of the small tea growers of Assam, Baruah added.
Baruah said growers take great pains in making handcrafted tea. "Every shoot is handled with great care," he said.
Borgohain said they have already set their sights to take this movement to greater heights. "We will set up at least 10 such retail outlets at the important tourist spots of Assam. There will be two in Majuli shortly," he added. Borgohain said the plan is to make at least 30,000kg of handmade speciality tea. The association has 200 members at present.
The location is perfect as Kaziranga gets lots of tourists, both domestic and international.
"Assam makes some of the best orthodox teas in the world," he added.
Bidyananda Barkakoty, vice-chairman of Tea Board of India, said this is a commendable initiative and will surely taste success.
Raj Barooah of Aideobarie Tea Estate, who has a Assam speciality tea online store ( www.rujanitea.com), said the Assam handmade speciality tea is a holistic story where every aspect of tea is told, starting from farmers to the kind of clone used, harvesting, packaging, marketing and others.
"One will have to tell how premium the teas are and sell the entire experience," Barooah said, adding that it is opening its first store tomorrow in Guwahati.