March 12th, 2021
The tea season in India has well and truly begun.
In early February, the Tea Board of India issued plucking dates to gardens, February 15th for the Dooars, Terai and Bihar and 22nd for Darjeeling and Sikkim, Assam and the northeast. The Nilgiris doesn’t close for winter so production has continued through winter.
This week, we have data for south India. Prices so far have remained at higher than 100 rupees per kilo. The Hindu Businessline reports that Sale Number 6 in February saw some record prices when two grades of green tea from Pascoe’s Woodlands topped the auctions. One was a super fine green tea grade that sold at INRs321 ($4.42) per kilo and the other was a Mongra grade green tea which sold at INRs296 per kilo. Both orthodox teas and CTC sold for between INRs200-265 ($2.75-$3.65) per kilo. But what remains of concern is the unexpectedly long frost into February. These high prices may not sustain over the next few weeks.
In Darjeeling, it’s officially spring flush, which means rhododendrons have bloomed. And we hear that it’s a pleasant spring although the expected winter rains were missing. There is rain expected this week but it’s still early to predict how the season will unfold. However, initial tastings of teas have been promising. Darjeeling is also yet to see the arrival of buyers from abroad as used to be the norm pre-Covid.
In Assam, the harvest is underway. Last week, most parts of Upper Assam enjoyed some rain, I am told. But tea producers are hoping for more rains to enjoy a good harvest.
Tune in each week as we report on how the tea market is faring as the season progresses.