Having read about the great British tea institution. (The 4pm tea and cucumber sandwich.) Last international tea day, I had one look at the tepid, insipid English tea and grabbed my cutting chai to atone for it.
Each one of us have our own tea recipe. My father taught me, to boil water, in the tea pot place tea powder one per cup and one for the pot pour boiling water. Let it stand for a minute, and then add boiling milk. Sugar of course was to taste.
Then there was Uncle Srinivas Hande’s technique, water to milk ration 3:1. Sugar one per cup, tea one per cup and one for the pot, in a saucepan, put all the ingredients bring to a boil and strain.
My mom seems to evolved a balance between the two technique. Water to milk ration stays 3:1. Tea powder stays 1 per cup, and tea one per cup and one for the pot. The only difference is that she brews the tea first and adds the milk later. This seems to work for me and now my daughters. I have though altered the ratio to 1:4 since the quality of milk here is more. BTW my mother’s recipe I like to think is a hand me down from her mother.
I dragged the self proclaimed chaivinist Roshan Raykar from the hub and we trotted down to the newly spotted Chaikhana or tea shop called Namaste chai . I prefer chaikhana for it has a very oriental flavour like the kind of tea that it serves. It very much reminded me of the Chayoos outing at Delhi. Needless to say Roshan and I pigged on the Zaffran chai and garlic bread, though samosa would have been ideal with the oriental flavours …I am rationing my indulges. Not only does Namaste Chai offer varieties of tea flavours and snacks, it also has it home delivered. They ensure that the tea stays pipping hot by delivering it in a disposable flask.
Somehow in an international tea day to me declared celebrations, and tasting varieties of tea. But niggling in the back of the mind was my conversation with my host at Assam on the issues faced by the tea growers. Which is why I decided to talk to him about what the international tea day was all about.
I then discover that the international tea day was about the tea growers and not the drinkers. The 1998 tea crisis effected the small tea growers. They had to shoulder the loss. To protect the interest of the small tea grower and tea workers Mr.Santosh Kumar Sarangi came up with a proposal.
In India the current government, is pushing brands and retailers. This concentration of power with the brands and retailers causes deprivation and vulnerability in the primary tea producer and worker. The “crisis ” in the tea industry does not get reflected in the industry as such but it effects the small grower.
Mr.Santosh Kumar Sarangi wanted to create a platform so that the stake holders take meaningful steps to introduce floor price and reform the auction system. This is not just india it is a global need of the tea industry to ensure decent living conditions, and wages for the workers. It also becomes the responsibility to ensure adequate remuneration for the small grower. With governments abdicating their responsibility in regulation of production, and pricing of tea the work ecosystem of the tea workers is trailing
The international tea day of 2005 took a stand by—
“Proposing an International Commodity Agreement for Tea: The existing tea trade practices are directed more towards the stakeholders of the value chain. There is no trickling down of the benefits of trade to workers and small producers at the lower end. There is a great need to regulate the tea trade internationally and to ensure the redistribution of the advantages of trade to workers and small growers.
Shadow International Tea Committee:
The existing International Tea Committee is not equipped to address the issues of international tea trade. There is a proposal to form a shadow international tea committee to voice the concerns of different stakeholders pertaining to production, market access, auction, price control and other aspects of trade.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization, lists top 10 tea growing countries. I have their 1993- 2013 output
1. China 1,000,130 tonnes.
2. India 9000,094 tonnes
3. Kenya 303,308 tonnes
4. Srilanka 295,830 tonnes
5. Turkey 14,932 tonnes.
Maybe its time for us as citizens to see what we can do to ensure our cup of tea stays.