Darjeeling Tea Is Priced 60% More Than Nepal Variant

The Darjeeling tea industry has estimated a revenue loss of Rs 120 crore every year as cheap leaf imports from Nepal, which continue unabated under the free trade agreement (FTA), are being passed on to consumers as Darjeeling tea is priced at a premium.
Industry officials estimate the Darjeeling tea industry’s annual market size to be more than Rs 600 crore which could have crossed the Rs 700 crore mark had India not been importing tea from its Himalayan neighbour.
One of the costliest teas in the world, Darjeeling’s Indianised Camellia Sinesis is produced in limited quantity at just above eight million kg (mkg). Quality and limited availability of this tea keep the average prices higher than the Assam or Nilgiri variants. However, the price is bound to fall if the supply of this variant increases in the domestic market; and it is here that Nepal or Himalayan tea is playing spoilsport.
Industry estimates suggest that around 2-2.5 mkg of Nepal tea enters India legally under the FTA provisions, which encourage trade of agricultural commodities. However, the major problem is that Himalayan orthodox tea produced in Nepal looks just like Darjeeling tea and even packagers and blenders find it difficult to differentiate.
“It is only after brewing that one can differentiate between the Darjeeling and Nepal leaves,” Ashok Kumar, managing partner at Goomtee Tea Estate said.

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