Specialty orthodox teas rich in anti-oxidants, and hence immensely beneficial for both physical and mental health, are finding more takers in the global beverage market than ever before in the midst of a pandemic, going by the record prices they are fetching year after year at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre.
On Tuesday, a kilogram of “Manohari Gold Tea”, which is an aromatic, high-oxidant specialty orthodox variety, and produced at Manohari Tea Estate in Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, fetched a record high price of Rs 99,999 at the auction centre.
As a matter of fact, the tea brand has been a hit among consumers, domestic and global, in the past four years.
In October 2020, the variety sold for a record price of Rs 75,000 per kg. In July 2019, a kilogram of the same variety fetched Rs 50,000 a kg while in the previous year, a kilogram of the variety sold for Rs 39,001 per kg.
“This is the fourth year that Manohari Gold has broken all the previous records at the auctions…This rate of Rs 99,999 fetched at the auction is the highest ever so far…This is a pride of not just the estate but of Assam. We want to show the world that Assam tea has the potential to beat all the world records,” Rajan Lohia, owner of Manohari Tea Estate, said.
Only two kilograms of the specialty tea were produced this year by the estate, which spreads over 1000 acres in a tea-rich belt and engages about 600 workers.
Manohari Gold Tea is made from small buds, and not tea leaves, which is a tedious and difficult process. It is made from the finest clones, P-126, which is said to be the best clone. More importantly, the tea buds are plucked from the bushes early in the morning during the second flush season in May and June.
“The factors that contribute to the record price of the specialty tea is its quality, taste, appearance, besides demand and supply, which is why the variety has found more takers in the market. Of course, due to certain factors, the quantity produced (since 2018) is less. But it is worth it and we expect higher prices in the near future,” Lohia said.
According to reports, orthodox tea is high in antioxidants as compared to CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea, which loses its antioxidant quality comparatively due to machine processing. Antioxidants help neutralize damaged cells which help us to look and feel better. They help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
“Loose leaf tea has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and especially helps boost mental clarity. Loose-leaf teas are organically processed thus giving it an advantage over the other in terms of quality,” a report says.
Commenting on the highest rate fetched at GTAC, Dinesh Bihani, the secretary of the Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers Association said that already, about 500 grams of Manohari Gold tea were sold within hours of the auction on Tuesday morning.
“Such teas with golden tips have fetched record prices over the years and today, Manohari Gold fetched the highest price at the auctions here so far, creating history by breaking its own record that it set last year,” Bihani said.
He hoped that foreign buyers would accept and like these Indian specialty teas. “More sellers should come up with specialty teas and make India a hub for such varieties,” Bihani said.
COVID-19 has changed people’s way of life, making them more immunity and health-conscious now. And yes, drinking quality, orthodox teas could be a simple mantra to boost immunity and keep the virus and the emerging variants at bay.