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Assam’s golden tea sells for ₹50,000 per kg

This is the highest price commanded by any tea in India.

This is the highest price commanded by any tea in India.  

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This is the highest price commanded by any tea sold in any auction centre in India

Rajan Lohia produces about 25 lakh kilograms of tea annually from his three estates in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts. Of this, only 2 kg has struck gold.

On Tuesday, his Manohari Gold tea fetched ₹50,000 a kg at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC). This was the highest price commanded by any tea sold in any auction centre in India.

“We made 5 kg of this handmade tea but only 2 kg got sold at the auction. We will have to wait for favourable conditions around this time next year for producing the next lot,” Mr. Lohia told The Hindu.

In July last year, the same tea from the same plantation — the 1,000-acre Manohari Tea Estate — had created a record; a kilogram sold for ₹39,001 to become the most expensive tea sold at any auction in India.

But less than a month later, Golden Needles tea from the Donyi Polo Tea Estate in Arunachal Pradesh fetched ₹40,000 for a kg and sold 1.1 kg at that price. It was a comeback for Golden Needles that had fetched ₹18,801 a kg at the GTAC on November 10, 2018.

“Ours is a specialty golden orthodox tea made from the buds of P-126, the finest tea clone grown under the perfect climatic conditions during the second flush. Unlike the traditional Assam teas processed by machines, this is done manually with the utmost care,” Mr. Lohia, 56, said.

A bud is an opened leaf at the tip of a branch of the tea plant. The norm is to pluck two tender leaves and a bud for tea harvested in Assam four times a year.

The ‘first flush’ of leaves is picked during late March, the ‘second flush’ from May through June, the ‘third flush’ from July-September and the ‘fourth flush’ from October-November.

A little less than 6 kg of tea buds went into producing a kilogram of the record-breaking tea that yields a golden hue when brewed. A kilogram of mass-market tea consumes an average of 4.5 kg of tea leaves. “Each kilo took a week from plucking and sorting of leaves to finishing,” Mr. Lohia said.

It is not easy to make the high-value tea, planters say. This is evident from the fact that the other two estates Mr. Lohia owns do not produce it. “We concentrate only in Manohari Tea Estate that enjoys the best of conditions to produce this tea once a year,” he said.

In 2018, Mr .Lohia and his team were not sure if their hard work would pay off. “People who tasted it said it was better than Darjeeling tea and all other teas they have ever tasted,” he said.

Mangilal Maheshwari of Sourabh Tea Traders, who bought 2 kg of Manohari Gold tea in 2018, picked up the lot again this time for the record price. “People who bought the tea last time wanted it again,” he said.

Mr. Maheshwari had retailed the tea last year at ₹8,000 per 100 gm.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 4:54:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assams-golden-tea-sells-for-50000-per-kg/article28764588.ece

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