For 28 years of my career I was with a leading Plantation Company, and it was a good opportunity for me to look at the value addition and export markets from a country which exports 90% of its produce. It was my experience with large tea companies that are catering to small needs of specialty tea was difficult as companies always needed scale of operation in order to keep their bottom line intact.
At times, huge overheads did not permit them to go for smaller contracts and specialty needs of the individual customers. Hence, I decided to set up a Tea Solution Enterprise to meet the needs as desired by customers. Universetea.com will help the individual customers, Tea Houses, Restaurants and also for private labels packs by supplying exact requirements however small or big.
During the early and mid 90's, Unilever Plantations provided an opportunity to meet peers across the globe at the training programs and conferences in plantations at Kenya, Malaysia, Tanzania apart from Asia and South India. This gave a wider vision of Global Tea culture and taste of its distinct quality. Plantations gave me an experience of Tea cultivation, Manufacturing, bulk packing.
The years 2006 -2008 provided another opportunity to peep into Sri Lankan Tea and its global reach. Auctions and post auction activities such as blending, packing and other value addition with the exposure to export market made it full circle from backyard to front yard in the supply chain.
It is heartening to note that most of the success stories of Global Tea Marketing come from Sri Lanka with case studies being analyzed by top management institutions on how local brands are making distinct impacts globally.
History and some land mark events on Tea
In 2737 B.C. the second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea when tea leaves blow into his cup of hot water or so the story goes. During 593 B.C. Buddhism and tea journey started from China to Japan. Japanese priests studying in China carried tea seeds.
1589 Europeans learn about tea when a Venetian author credits the lengthy lives of Asians to their tea drinking. 1664 English East India Company brings the gift of tea to the British king and queen.
1778 Before the indigenous Assam tea plants is identified, British naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, hired by the East India Company, suggests that India grow plant and cultivate imported Chinese tea. For 50 years, India is unsuccessful.
1831 Samples of indigenous Indian tea plants are sent to an East India Company botanist who is slowly convinced that they are bona fide tea plants.
1835 The East India Company starts the first tea plantations in Assam, India. 1840-50 the first tea plants, imported from China and India, are cultivated on a trial basis in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
1890 Thomas Ltipon buys tea estates in Ceylon, in order to sell tea at a reasonable price at his growing chain of 300 grocery stores.
1904 Englishman Richard Blechynden creates iced tea during a heat wave at the St Louis World Fair. Green tea and Formosan (Taiwanese) tea outsells black tea by five times in the U.S.
1908 New York tea importer Thomas Sullivan inadvertently invents tea bags when he sends tea to clients in small silk bags, and they mistakenly steep the bags whole. Sources: www.inpursuitoftea.com
Tea and Environment
The word environment depicts a vast area. The protection of the environment is vital for Sustainable Human Development. Relevant factors of environment include food, waste, energy, natural resources, toxic substances etc.An ecosystem is a complex set of relationships among living resources, habitats and residents of a region. And Ecology is the scientific study of the processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms, the interactions among organisms, and the interactions between organisms and the transformation and flux of energy and matter.
Original tea gardens retained as much diversity as possible taking into account of land and its suitability for the particular crop . The tea garden ecosystem is a typical example for the integration of conservation and utilization of natural resources. In order to understand its role in biodiversity conservation, several researches have been conducted using various agrobiodiversity assessment.