In August 2010, I took the bold step of starting a tea business in a coffee-drinking nation – Mexico. My plan was to import a small quantity of tea from India and sell it retail in my tea house.
Very soon I learned that importing tea is not an easy business, although getting an import license is a fairly easy job. The first samples of tea I imported from India were returned after reaching the Guadalajara gateway airport in Mexico. The second samples of tea were subjected to scrutiny by customs officials in Guadalajara. It was a wake-up call. I pleaded with them not to send the tea back to India, but to test the samples. Thankfully, the samples were sent to Mexico City for laboratory tests and eventually the tea was released by customs. I was elated and waited eagerly for the samples.
Being a law graduate, I gradually acquainted myself with the customs rules and regulations involved in importing tea to Mexico. My experience with customs in Mexico could be a lesson to all importers based in Mexico as well as to exporters based in the countries of origin, such as India, Sri Lanka, China, and Kenya. I import tea from various tea-growing nations with ease now and, in the process, I acquaint exporters with the customs regulations in Mexico that they must adhere to it if they want a market in Mexico. Those that don’t abide by the rules find that their tea is seized or quarantined by customs.
Because Mexico has had to battle drug cartels, the rules are strict. All tea and herbs must be labeled in Spanish with nutritional information, date of production, date of expiry, and importer and exporter details. The commercial invoice must in a prescribed format and the harmonized system code must clearly mention each item of tea imported. As importers and exporters, our duty is to make the work easy for customs officials. A certificate of origin is also an essential component to determine the origin of products. In the case of non-compliance, a massive duty can be levied on the importer, including an anti-dumping duty, which is levied if the goods originate in China, and may amount to 60 to 120 percent. The only entry point in Mexico for tea is the Mexico City Gateway. This has been done purposefully to enable each port of entry or airport gateway to specialize in a specific product.
To facilitate the easy and effective entry of tea and herbs into Mexico, both importers and exporters must work hand in hand. The importers must convey the exact rules and guidelines to the exporters, and they must both abide by the same and furnish all details.
Very recently, to my surprise, a supplier from India sent us a few tea samples without the address of the consignee and without any requisite documents, but I finally managed to get the tea samples released.
I hope the information in this post will pave the way for other importers like me and exporters to devise a common strategy so that they comply strictly with the regulations imposed and thereby minimize risk and loss of time and business.
It’s interesting that Mexico would have such strict importing policies but given it’s drug problems, it certainly makes sense. I’m surprised to learn that you’re the first to import teas from traditional tea producing countries. I will look forward to hearing of your success with your coffee drinking citizens. If Seattle and Portland can learn to love their tea, I’m sure Mexico will be next.
Many thanks for the complement. Yes Indeed with this hope we are working very hard each day and night. People have started to differentiate Black Teas and Green Teas.
Mexicans have a good taste palate, even though they dont know much about Tea, but they can distinguish between average tea, good and normal tea and high Tea.
In pricing we need to convince them why some teas are costly, because the tea has that worth, not because I want or any other Tea company wants.
I am sure in the coming days, it will be possible like in Seattle and Portland back in the States.
But, I dont blame Mexican not having this tradition, Its because of the colonial hangover by the Spaniards.
Back home in India, we have been drinking tea in the form of Chai since century and half and even more in other forms but good tea, high tea are not in appreciated by the mass. Chai is the only and most favoured drink in India, even though India is the largest producer if Quality Tea in the world, but slowely drinking Tea is in vogue in upper class and upper middle class. I wonder why there is no tea house in India, Srilanka and other tea producing countries of the world.
Hello Mr. Singh, thanks for following us on Twitter, so I was interested to see you writing here! I’m also surprised you say Indian people don’t drink anything but chai. What about Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Assam teas with no milk?? No? Maybe I misunderstood what you said.
If not, that’s probably why there are no tea houses in India. However, I understand that Indians are now turning to coffee as something different and that Starbucks and Tata Tea are joined up to build about 50 coffee houses in India?
If you’re ever in Southern California, please stop in and see what we are doing with tea here.
The pleasure is mine meeting you here as well!, It will be a pleasure to be in southern california. Indeed there has been an incredible increase in the speciality Teas in the states. We are putting effort in Mexico and Latin America.
Assam goes well with milk, Darjeeling first flush is always without milk and Darjeeling second flush with or without milk. I prefer not to put any milk irrespective of the Tea except Assam. Yes for the Chai, we must put boiled milk in the liquor, this is how a chai is made using CTC in India and spices are added to make it more commercial Masala chai.
We I just had an Invoice from Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea estates and I had an opportunity to taste the hand made Peony Rosette. Indeed very special mystical and mesmerizing mouth lingering taste as we go along from first cup to second cup.
Hello Pankaj! My Welsh neighbor drinks any flush Darjeeling with milk & sugar :) I prefer Indian tea without anything..just black, and high quality loose leaf only.
You can click on my Contributor profile & my phone number is there. Please call me if you are in the San Diego/LosAngeles/Riverside County area. I’d love to meet you in person and brew some tea for you with our 1-minute technology!
Here’s something I found today I thought you might be interested in seeing regarding tea stores/chains in India, or lack thereof: http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/sc-trav-0228-food-tea-india-20120228,0,2484554.story
Diane, Interesting Indeed, Grass is always greener on other part. Coffee drinking is bourgeoisie in India, while Tea is for middle class and poor. In west Tea drinkers are elite.
All the best Sanjay..your efforts will benefit importers from Maxico and exporters from India..
Dear Pankaj, your experience of tea importing should be big help to people who like tea and want to promote tea in Mexico. Is it easy to find a tea fellow you there?
Two Mexican friend visited us last year and they admired Gongfu tea very much, we talked with tea till midnight, so nice memory. And I learned that Mexico used to be a pretty beautiful country before the drug problem starts. Best wishes to your tea adventure!
Mr Singh, I am currently in the process of opening a gourmet cupcake business in Mexico city and will also be selling high quality coffees and teas. From what I’ve been able to find, there aren’t very many options when it comes to buying tea through middlemen and they usually only have lower quality brands/types of tea. Realizing this I’ve been investigating the possibility of getting my tea shipped to Mexico from the US by american companies like Two Leaves and a Bud. But, I’m not sure if it being tea would make it more difficult to get across the border and through customs. If you have any relevant information it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you’re in the business of reselling the tea you import I would be very interested in seing the types of tea you have. Thanks for your time.
I’ve been investigating the possibility of getting tea and herbs shipped to Mexico from the US&EU. But I had been facing some difficulties to get an agent to get the product across the border and through customs. If you have any relevant information it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you’re interested to import together so we share volume or do the business I would be very interested. Thanks for your time and help. I hope you can help
Dear Catalina, I know someone who is well connected in South America that might help you import tea from US.
Drop me a message at daniel (A@T) hongchinatea.com if anyone need help.
Dear Mr. Pankaj,
it was really intersting to learn about you and your tea import from various parts of the world.
We, Haldiram you must be knowing that we are the best in India in Snacks and Sweets and we are looking for a Distributor in Mexico who can import our products and distribute the same in complete Mexico.
Please fell to contact me on my mobile directly +91 9899368788.
It will be pleasure working with you.
Sorry, I am Mexican, currently studying in the UK. I was thinking in sending to myselft in Mexico some tea, Is it the same for personal use? Is there a difference? Limits on how much can you send?
If there is too much trouble probably I would ask you how to buy it from you in Mexico C:
It is disheartening to hear that they won’t let anything through that originates from China. Here in San Francisco we have a company called Mayway Herbs that sources herbs from china, but only sources from farms that follow GMP and the quality and purity of the herbs are tested rigorously. These herbs are the best quality chinese herbs in the world. As a practitioner that will be moving to Mexico I am disheartened by not having these amazing herbs at my disposal. I wish there were some way to get these herbs into the country : (
Need to know few outlets in guadalajara where will get indian tea in chip rates
Hello, i love tea. I heve been in Mexico for over a year. Building ashram near Cancun (Ozen cocom) and i didnt get to drink any good one for a long long time.
Is it posible to order some from you?Also many people here have no idea that something so wonderfull can exist. I would like to broaden there horizon.
Is it at all possible to get in touch with Pankaj Singh? I know this is an old post and I’ve tried googling his name and haven’t found anything.
I work with a tea company and we’ve received a lot of interest to have our teas imported to Mexico.