Indian tea scales great wall of China, demand to touch 100 m kg by 2015

Indian tea, which traces its origins to China, is making steady inroads into the Chinese market with the demand expected to touch 100 million kg by 2015, experts said on Friday.

The Chinese experts said demand for black tea is growing after India began promoting prime varieties like Darjeeling and Nilgri tea, which have got the attention of the youth.

Demand has risen following the introduction of black tea culture in a predominantly green tea drinking nation.

The demand for Indian tea is expected to touch 100 million kg by 2015, the experts said at an “Indian Tea Promotion Seminar and Tea Tasting” function at the Indian Embassy.

Welcoming a gathering of Chinese to the tea tasting get-together, deputy ambassador Bala Bhaskar highlighted how the tea which originated in China made its way to India, just around the time Buddhism from India began making an impression in China.

In some ways China’s “cha”, which evolved into Indian “chai”, helped the vast migration of Indian tea experts and labour to work in plantations abroad decades ago, he said.

“As the largest black tea producer in the world and home to some of the most exclusive and premium brands, India is well positioned to meet Chinese demand,” said Namgya Khampa from the embassy’s trade and commerce wing.

Indian black tea exports to China amounted to nearly 20 million kg in the past but the figure fell to around 15 million kg last year. “In 2010, India produced 966.4 million kg, of which 80% was black tea,” Khampa said in her presentation.

“Indian tea also offers variety to the Chinese market. It has tropical tea from south India and tea that is grown in the Himalayas,” said Marco Wu, a representative of an Indian tea company doing business in China since 2006.

Wu said Chinese urban youth are experimenting with tea, specially the ready-to-drink format, which is one reason why demand for black tea is expected to rise.