FB_IMG_1452531055351On January 11th, 2016 at the Delhi Book Fair a Dialogue over Chinese and Indian Black Tea was held where I and Prof. Wang Xufeng, Dean of Tea Culture College of Zhejiang Agriculture & Forestry University in Hangzhou, China represented India and China respectively and for 45 minutes we discussed tea cultures of our countries with one Ravindranath Tagore poem in the backdrop of a tea ceremony.

Later she visited the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, India Gate, Victoria Memorial, Calcutta Club, Ravindranath Tagore’s house,  tea auction in Calcutta centre organised by J Thomas & Co., and a tea roadside vendor along with a tea house and a tea packaging company – covering Indian culture and tea scenarios. A China and India trade and culture platform in Delhi hosted her for an overview of India. Darjeeling, Assam, and Kangra teas were compared to Jin Jun Mei, Lapsang Souchong, Longjing teas and this four day trip was followed by a visit to Kathmandu University in Nepal before returning through Lahsa.

IMG_20160116_024714A perfect starting point of a “tea bridge” connecting China to India and Nepal is where a Confucius Institute is being established for the development of a new tea culture. This institute is being built in a new tea growing region which will certainly be tomorrow’s aromatic tea centre in addition to Darjeeling. Prof. Wang presented her books to Ms. Smriti Irani, the Human Resources minister of the Government of India, who inaugurated the Book Fair the morning of January 9th.

For those of us in the tea industry in India and Nepal, on us lies the responsibility to develop a tea culture of its own to augment the marketing and image of tea in society as well as in the expanding tea markets catering to the health-conscious.  Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China have well-developed tea cultures of their own, being traditional tea growers and drinkers, where tea is part of their system. But the tea which was taken out by the Europeans to countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nepal during the past two hundred years has hardly attempted to develop tea cultures of their own. The tea crops in these areas were a mere trading commodity and never taken as a sacred thing as in China. It is our responsibility to change that.