CEYLON TEA MARKETING AND PRESENTATION
Storage of Black Tea and Green Tea
Ceylon Tea Marketing is given an important place in the tea industry. At the same time gift tea packets act as the ‘tea ambassodor,’ carrying with it the beauty and taste to places far away from which it is produced.
Tea is ready for Storage and Marketing no sooner the process of manufacture is complete. As it is mentioned under Manufacture, made tea is stored in large Bins inside the factory before being packed in bags.
Packed Tea has to be converted to money. Storage and Marketing comes into place at this stage, bearing in mind the following.
Tea has a shelf life that varies with storage conditions and type of tea. Black tea has a longer shelf life than green tea.
• Several changes occur during the storage of tea before marketing takes place, some chemical and others biological. These commence shortly after the tea has been fired and are beneficial during the first few weeks of storage but detrimental thereafter. Before marketing, prolonged storage causes loss of theaflavin, amino acids, sugars, pigments and other valuable properties which determine flavor and quality of the tea.
• Tea stays freshest when stored in a dry, cool, dark place in an air-tight container. However, development of rancidity is most rapid in ultra-dry conditions, whereas browning reactions occur in moist conditions and micro organisms thrive in very moist conditions. The results of detailed investigations suggest that the optimum moisture content for black tea is in the region of 3 to 5% and therefore it is recommended to ensure that tea is dried to a moisture content in this range and maintained at this level during transit and warehouse storage.
• Black tea stored in a bag inside a sealed opaque canister may keep for two years.
• Green tea loses its freshness more quickly, usually in less than a year.
• Storage life for all teas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by vacuum sealing.
• When storing green tea, discreet use of refrigeration or freezing is recommended. In particular, drinkers need to take precautions against temperature variation.
• Improperly stored tea may lose flavor, acquire disagreeable flavors or odors from other foods, or become moldy. Marketing of such teas could become a problem subsequently.
Here’s a typical Tea Chest seated on a Weighing Scale – Note the chest has all the usual ‘markings’ ready for the market.
CEYLON TEA MARKETING
Ceylon Tea Marketing
The Tea once packed will have its own ‘Mark.’ This may be either the name of the factory which produced it or any other name registered with the Brokers for this purpose. A single Factory can use more than one mark.
Colombo Tea Auction is the most important place for Ceylon tea marketing.
When a Lot is ready on the estate consisting one or more grades with sufficient quantity to meet a Sale, the manager draws from the bulk two sets of samples. One set is sent to the Agents who manage the estate and the other to the selling Brokers in Colombo for tasting and reporting in preparation for Ceylon tea marketing.
Tea Tasting itself is a highly skilled subject, where the tea taster examines the tea to ascertain whether it conforms to specifications for a particular grade, its acceptability, standard of manufacture and specific consumer demands.
Tea Samples and Catalogues
• Three weeks ahead of the actual sale date all teas ready and offered for sale by estates are catalogued. Samples from each lot are made available to the registered traders along with a printed copy of the Broker’s Catalogue two weeks prior to the sale date.
• During the quality season, the demand for tea increases. Some buyers call for samples earlier for onward transmission to their overseas buyers during this period.
• For Main Sale teas, a three-kilo sample is drawn from three packed tea chests chosen at random by the Broker’s representative, by boring a hole on the side of the chest. The opening is then sealed with a metal cover.
• For Ex Estate Sales, samples are taken out before the tea is finally packed from three different chests. Chests from which samples were taken will be clearly marked “S” to denote this fact. These samples are sent to the Brokers for sampling by the respective Broker. These samples are distributed among various buyers either in tins provided by prospective registered buyers or wrapped in special paper.
• At this stage teas are tasked for valuations by the Brokers. Their reports on taste and valuations are placed on each Lot, which gives a guide to the prices that could be expected when the lot comes up for sale.
• In the meantime, the buyers themselves taste and evaluate samples received and make their decision on prices to be paid, based on demand, credit availability, and market trends. The buyers then fix a price in keeping with their requirements on each lot they are interested in buying in the Main Sale Auction.
• In the case of Ex Estate Sales, upon instructions from the Brokers, the tea will be dispatched directly from the estate to the buyer who purchased the tea.
• If the tea brokers find bids to be unsatisfactory, they withdraw the particular lot from the sale. The withdrawn teas are either sold as out-lots after the Sale or re-catalogued for a subsequent sale.
• The Buyer is obliged to settle the cost to the Broker within a week from the auction date. Once the settlement is done, the buyer gets a Delivery Order to obtain his purchase from the Seller’s Stores for Main Sale Teas.
In summary the following methods are commonly adopted for Made Tea Sales.
• Ex Factory – Tea can be sold on estate where it is produced, but they are usually sold in smaller quantities.
• on estate called “Tea Centers” and this is becoming popular especially among foreign Tourists, if the estate is close to a main road or an area popularly visited by them.
• Public Auctions – sold by auction at the Colombo Tea Auction organized by the Colombo Tea Traders Association, usually held weekly. The auction is open to all registered tea dealers, the majority of whom are members of the Colombo Tea Traders Association as well.
• All tea sales are in accordance with a set of laws formulated by the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
• Private Sales – Tea is also sold thru Private Sales at a price mutually agreed by a panel Tea Tasters.
• Ex Estate Sales - Teas which are not included in Main Sales are sold in this method.
In modern times, large quantities of packeted Pure Ceylon Tea of different grades can be bought at various Tea Centers belonging to their respective Tea Gardens. Most of these Tea Centers are situated by the road sides with attactive sign boards, which a visitor cannot miss. Here’s such a Center at Somerset Estate, Tawakelle.
GIFT TEAS BOOST CEYLON TEA MARKETING:
There are ample choices for one to carry a packet of gift tea to anyone from among the numerous Tea Sale Centers which have sprung up in most tea growing areas. The gift tea is well packed in beautiful bags with the name of the factory which produces it. Often, the visitor also has to opportunity to enjoy a free tour of the tea factory, mostly located close to the Sales Center as well and learn how the green leaf is processed into made tea.
Gift tea packets are considered very precious among families receiving them, as a packet of gift tea can last for several weeks, and every time someone tastes a cup of well made tea, the person who gave the gift tea is often remembered with pleasure and gratitude. Therefore, gift tea is a powerful Ceylon tea marketing tool.
Ceylon Tea Marketing – TEA IMPORTS FOR RE-EXPORT
CEYLON TEA MARKETING
Although Ceylon Tea is exported to about 142 countries, we also import tea into Sri Lanka. Strange is it? This is part of the Ceylon tea marketing strategy.
In 1980, the Sri Lankan government decided that import of tea is allowed to the country subject to: (a) not allowing such imported low grade teas to be sold locally and (b) having taken adequate precautions to charge them applicable duty for the proportion of Ceylon tea blended with the imported tea at the point of export.
The objective of this tea marketing scheme, for allowing imports of tea for blending purposes were:
1. Develop Sri Lanka as a tea hub amongst the tea producing countries of the region.
2. Allow import of cheaper filler teas to be blended with Ceylon teas to regain declining value added benefit on the export of packets and tea bags.
3. To face the market competition in the world offering the consumers blends of teas with cheaper type teas obtained from international tea markets.
4. Allow import of CTC and Green teas for blending and re-export.
At that time only about 10% of our teas were exported as valued added and Sri Lanka was widely known as Bulk Tea Exporter, resulting in international tea blenders making huge profits from our teas that got blended with teas from other countries.
When “tea bags” was becoming very popular, local producers failed to produce the filler type teas required for blending, thus making our teas uncompetitive internationally. During that period CTC tea was needed for quick brewing, an essential requirement for tea bag industry, was not at all being produced in Sri Lanka.
This resulted in import of certain categories of CTC teas for the Sri Lankan tea bag industry to enter into this important area of Ceylon tea marketing. Consequently, the government decision was implemented from April 1981 giving import of CTC teas legal status by a gazette notification.
Since 1982, 14 factories producing Green tea and a few more factories producing Organic tea have come up in Sri Lanka. Also, several factories started producing CTC teas.
These developments have now given rise to concerns by producers for continuing with the practice of importing teas which are being produced in Sri Lanka. Since 1994, the scheme for importing, blending and re-exporting underwent amendments from time to time. Some of them are:
In 1994, import of any orthodox tea imports under the scheme was banned.
In 2000, a ban was imposed on import of poor quality teas, Off Grades, Filler type teas, and teas that do not come under the specialty category.
We have to understand that the international tea marketing patterns, the consumer preferences and the purchasing powers of the consumers in the global situation. The importer would therefore wish that the exporter gives him a whole range of different assortments (e.g. Uva, Dimbula, Darjeeling, Kenyan CTC, Decaffeinated tea, etc.) in one consignment.
Since 1981, more than 100 countries (out of about 142), where Ceylon tea is exported, import multi origin teas from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is leading among the exporters of pre packed tea. If we are to retain our place in the world tea marketing, we are compelled to continue with this trend.