In a bid to exercise stringent control on the export and import quality of tea, the Tea Board of India has said that from February 2013, international trading of tea would be allowed only if it conforms to the parameters laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India .

The stipulation follows the various quality issues that have cropped up in recent years regarding Indian tea. “The Tea Board of India has taken firm steps to protect and enhance the image of Indian tea globally, and to ensure that only tea worthy of the tagline ‘Indian tea’ is exported,” a Tea Board release said, adding that random testing would be carried out to check quality. The Tea Board of India has established a Tea Council of North India and another for South India to put in place an online mandatory mechanism to track all exports and imports and ensure that quality norms are enforced. The mechanism is being designed by NSE-IT, and it would be hassle-free and paperless. Details would be posted on the website of the Tea Board from Januray 1, 2013, the release said. Even as India struggles to hold it markets for its best-known commodity exports, quality issues have plagued exporters with complaints flowing in, especially from quality conscious countries such as Iran and Japan, alleging presence of contaminants such as iron filings, artificial colour, and pesticide residue levels.