11933477_10155964683375487_4961778649749599141_nA friend called today very concerned about something. Another posted a link on my Facebook. The concern was this BBC post about Assam and the working conditions there which you should read..and my reaction is that just as the British started it, the British will end it, just as they did in China and Ceylon. Recently Shashi Tharoor spoke well in Oxford but that is nothing to do with our plight.

But the concern does not end there, as the reality is too harsh and a solution nowhere in sight. Green Peace has put another nail in the coffin. I had taken a Darjeeling tea producer with me to China recently and he saw the tea industry there through my eyes. He got many answers, but we cannot duplicate anything. Different conditions prevail there and Nepal is something else. A land owner is being converted to a labourer on the slavery model. How do we stop this in the maze of red tape we’ve tangled around us? This is a problem we’ve blamed Britain for.

riverWhether we are the first or second in production and acreage, priority to innovate does not diminish. This innovation will come from value addition since an overnight production process change is not possible. Food technology is the answer, as Nigel Malican points out to the Indian Tea Research Association. By the way, Nigel is a British.

Green tea was produced earlier than black tea simply because it was easier to make, and it was not called green tea then because that was the only tea available. The British modified that tea to be kept longer during shipping to Europe and produced en mass as black tea in India after shifting the bases to India which were under their full control.

Black tea (or red as we call it) is replacing the black Coca Cola and we have yet another answer for increasing consumption on health benefit grounds as Americans have discarded their much-possessed drink in favour of ice tea and masala chai – two new incarnations of blunt stark CTC. Remember, one billion Americans living from Alaska to Chile have a guzzling need to quench their thirsts as the beer, mate, coffee, chicory, chocolate or rooibos give way to tea, and it will become the best business and employment opportunity.

Images provided by the author.