Kochi: The fourth annual ceremony for The Golden Leaf India Awards (TGLIA) for the south Indian teas scheduled to be held in Dubai on 19 February will see the unveiling of a new marketing strategy where award-winning teas will be auctioned.
The competition is being organized to coincide with the Global Tea Forum to be held in Dubai, also during that time.
N. Dharmaraj, convener of TGLIA, said the winning samples, after a first round of screening on 2 February at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, will be put through a technical analysis based on strict parameters such as prevention of food adulteration and European Union quality and hygiene standards. Only teas that pass this analysis will be considered for the final round in Dubai that would feature a seven-member international jury, which would be finalized soon.
This time, the national jury for tasting teas at Coonoor during the first screening includes major tea manufacturers like Tata Tea Ltd, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Girnar Tea Co. and Wagh-Bakri Tea Group, in addition to experts and tea tasters.
The tea-cupping contest is organized by the United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi) and the government trade promotion body Tea Board. This is for the first time that the association has looked at direct marketing through an auction.
The Dubai Global Tea Forum, organized by the Dubai Tea Trading Centre, a subsidiary of the commodity exchange Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre, is a platform where all players in the tea industry from across the globe are expected to converge. The efforts of Upasi to improve the quality of teas can be showcased in front of the global tea industry. “There is actual trade expected to happen this time, which can mean much for the south Indian tea industry that accounts for around 50% of India’s annual tea exports of over 200 million kg,” said Dharmaraj.
“This is the right platform to showcase the quality improvement in south Indian teas.”
For the second edition of TGLIA in Dubai during 2006, Upasi had received just 194 entries from 79 estates across the South. This time, 83 factories have sent in 214 entries.
The competition would continue to have higher quality orthodox, CTC (cut, tear and curl) and organic teas from the six agroclimatic zones from the different regions of the Nilgiris, Wayanad, Anamallais, Travancore, High Ranges, and Karnataka and other minor districts, in addition to the small bought-leaf factories in Tamil Nadu that source the green tea leaves from very small growers to manufacture tea.
“Each of these regions have their strong, unique and distinctive quality attributes.,” said Dharmaraj. “Tea from the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu is seen as delicately fragrant and bright; the High Ranges in Kerala exquisitely tangy and exotically aromatic; Anamallais in Tamil Nadu intensely full bodied; and Wayanad and central Travancore in Kerala, the tea has a black leaf appearance that is brisk and strong.”
According to S. Muraleedharan, director of the Tea Research Foundation of Upasi, which undertakes the technical analysis, “The parameters fixed are very strict. This will ensure that only those teas, which are globally accepted can go for the final contest. Quality benchmarks would be set for the teas through scorecards based on the parameters.”
What is being attempted is a branding of south Indian teas where award-winning teas can be sold with the TGLIA logo, added Dharmaraj.