Guwahati in queue for tea cold storage - Facility in city after Siliguri in Bengal

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By Roopak Goswami
  • Published 30.03.15

A screenshot of the Teabox website

Guwahati, March 29: A Siliguri-based online brand, Teabox, is setting up cold storages for tea in Siliguri (Bengal) followed by Guwahati (Assam) and Coonoor (Kerala).

"This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country according to my knowledge. We procure teas from plantations within 24-48 hours and this will immediately go to our cold storage facilities where they will be stored at negative temperatures for a long period of time," Kaushal Dugar, founder of Teabox, told The Telegraph.

Once the teas are procured from gardens, they will be cleaned, vacuum-packed and kept in cold storages, he said. An advanced cleaning unit will also be established for the purpose.

He said four important factors that affect tea quality are oxygen, moisture, temperature and light. "With our current packaging, we protect our tea from oxygen, light and moisture but with the cold storage facility we can protect tea from temperature fluctuations that happen throughout the year," Dugar said.

He said the cold storage centre at Siliguri would come up in two months. Guwahati and Coonoor will have the facility in the next six months to a year. The estimated cost for each facility is about Rs 3-4 crore.

The company has raised around $6 million in funds, which will be used primarily to support its growth in key markets, including setting up infrastructure.

He said high storage temperature and temperature changes significantly affect the physical, chemical and sensory quality of tea. Cold storage retains the tea quality, composition, flavour and colour. The temperature difference between day and night is also a factor leading to a qualitative change in tea.

"The rate at which tea loses its freshness and flavour also depends on the tea and how freshly it was packed. Our teas are particularly special because they are vacuum-packed at the origin and stored in controlled environment (cold) that retains the freshness/deliciousness all year long," he said.

N. Muraleedharan, director, Tea Research Association in Tocklai, said keeping teas in cold storage would keep them fresher for a longer period of time.

With its sourcing centres located in the tea-growing regions, Teabox procures teas directly from the growers, does extensive value-addition and ships them to customers all over the world.

Founded in 2012, the company delivers tea direct from its place of origin to customers and ships the world's freshest teas chosen by tea experts all over the world within 24-48 hours of production. It is delivered within three to five working days to customers worldwide.

The company offers the largest selection of single-estate teas online with a selection of more than 200 fresh teas from over 200 different plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiris, Kangra, rest of the Northeast and Nepal. The company claims it has delivered over 20 million cups worth of tea to customers in 75 countries.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in the state budget this year had announced setting up of small cold storage units for storing green leaf during the peak-cropping season for small tea growers.