KOLKATA: Tea industry is trying to shedoff its old world image and brace a new look to compete coffee and aerated drinks that have captured the fancy of the youth.
Leaders of the tea industry Mcleod Russel India (MRIL), Apeejay Tea, Goodricke Group, Amalgamated Plantations, Warren Tea and leading tea auctioneer J Thomas & Company have joined hands under the banner of Indian Tea Association (ITA) to promote tea in the traditional hot as well as in the cold form.
Talking to ET, Azam Monem, vice chairman, ITA, said: "We have seen that tea in the cold form has a huge demand among the youth in north India, even during the winter. So we are trying to develop the market for tea in both hot and cold form."
The move comes at a time when prices of teas are on the higher side compared to last year. CTC tea is fetching a price of Rs 162.30 per kg this year compared to Rs 135 per kg last year.
Similarly, orthodox tea is fetching a price of Rs 224.02 per kg compared to Rs 187.29 per kg. Darjeeling tea is fetching a price of Rs 1,062.60 per kg at the auctions. Monem, who is also the director of MRIL, said the planters are in talks with leading packers of Western India to sell cold tea along with normal tea in packet form.
"The cold tea can be kept in the fridge and can be consumed later on," he said.
ITA additional secretary Sujit Patra said the tea industry has decided to organise workshops with chefs from leading hotels and restaurants to promote tea mocktails. Indian tea production is on the rise - largely led by the growing output. There is an imperative need for growth in consumption to keep pace with this production increase.
Per capita tea consumption in India is around 730 gm annually, which is far below in many countries like Ireland (1.90kg), Russia (1kg), Chile (1.24kg), Turkey (2 kg), Egypt (1.15kg) and Pakistan (1.1kg), thereby underscoring the potential which could be tapped to grow tea consumption.
Tea consumption in India has grown on the back of the increasing population. India's population is predominantly in the youth segment.
There is a need to focus on this segment and to position tea in the way of choice of this segment.
ITA sees this as an opportunity to deepen consumption and grow the category by reaching out to them and make the drink as exciting and appealing as possible. India consumes 900 million kg of tea annually.
Tea companies like Goodricke Group is setting up tea lounges to promote tea. It has recently set up one at its tea estate in Kurseong, Maragret's Hope.
And to give a fillip to tea drinking, Darjeeling Heritage Railways - more commonly known as "toy train" - is giving a halt at the estate so that overseas and domestic tourists can sip the exquisite Darjeeling tea.