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Silver needles gets pricey

Silver needles tea from Doomni tea estate

Guwahati: Assam tea got off to a perfect start in the New Year with silver needles from Doomni garden in Baksa district fetching the highest price of Rs 8,561 per kg at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre on Wednesday.

The earlier record was set by Duflating garden for Assam orthodox tea, which was sold at Rs 6,999 per kg at the Calcutta auction in 2012.

The price fetched by the silver needles is the highest for white tea in the Guwahati auction. The highest overall price still rests with golden needles of Donyi Polo garden in Arunachal Pradesh fetching Rs 18,801 per kg last year at GTAC.

Doomni silver needles, weighing 10kg, sold by J. Thomas - the oldest tea brokerage firm in the world - was bought by Kamakhya Tea Trading, which will sell it at its retail counter in the city. Doomni estate, spread over 1,040.72 hectares, produces around 14 lakh kg tea annually.

Gaurav Jalan, director of Sublime Agro which owns Doomni, said, "This tea is all long silver tips, with a pubescent sheen like 'angel's hair'. White teas are the rarest variety. The fresh leaves undergo only two processing operations in a natural fashion: withering and drying, a vital ingredient to retain its anti-oxidant properties. The colour is pale straw with an old-gold hue and the sweet flavours envelope the tongue at first taste and completely fulfils the expectations created by the aroma. The feel is cool to the palate and the overall experience satisfying."

"Though the market is very niche, select clients do come and ask for white tea. In the current season we have seen white teas being offered by multiple Assam estates. Doomni silver needles is a very finely crafted tea. I strongly feel this was the best white tea from Assam and wanted it at a premium," Paban Roy of Kamakya Tea Trading said.

Krishan Katyal, chairman and managing director of J. Thomas, said there are different varieties and each tea has a different experience. The drinker must not close his eyes to only CTC tea. There are a lot of experiences to be enjoyed from different varieties. The producer must also realise there are different varieties which can be produced to give them remunerative prices," he said.

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