This week I was sorry to hear, after I published a previous post about Darjeeling tea, of the various troubles besetting the Darjeeling district and therefore the tea estates. You may read about them here if you like. According to the article some areas are dangerous, workers are absent from the gardens and tourists are leaving.
Since Darjeeling produces a miniscule amount of the world’s tea any vacuum created by loss of production will barely register on the market. Other tea estates will step up to market their own unique tea and no doubt the local growers and labourers of Darjeeling will suffer most, a common fate of low-income workers the world over. Facts remain: production is down and that means less tea. Will it mean higher prices? Might we see Darjeeling set another record? – keeping in mind competition has increased.
The emulsion of problems that disturb Darjeeling include recurring grievance, racial differences, religious differences, worker’s rights, government policy and separatist assertion. I know instability in tea growing areas is beyond my power to remedy yet there is a way I can help: by seeking out tea which is grown ethically. The more tea drinker’s understand about the growing and processing of tea the better it is for the worker.
There are two types of black tea: Othodox and CTC or Cut-Tear-Curl tea.
Orthodox is the name given the age-old process of treating the tea. Orthodox tea is graded by leaf size, is the highest quality, commands a fair price and recognises the skill of the artisan. CTC tea, on the other hand, was developed to supply the teabag market. Instead of rolling the leaf, as in orthodox production, the leaf is chopped finely, quickly rolled into granules or pellets and then left to oxidize for a short period. Because it has less bulk CTC tea is ideal for packing into teabags. The idea is quantity. This kind of tea is not expected to reach high prices and prices may fall so low as to make it uneconomical to produce CTC tea at all.
Many orthodox and CTC tea producers belong to an Ethical Tea Partnership. If so there will probably be an email address displayed somewhere on the packaging: http://www.ethicalteapartnership.org. Being a member of the ETP does not infer the company produces top-quality tea although it does indicate the company is willing to look at practices and conditions for workers. Not all ethical producers will belong to the ETP either. It does pay to read the packaging when selecting tea. Naturally there will always be a market for cheap tea when cheap tea is all many can afford.
(RTF’s) Random tea facts:
Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of othodox tea in the world.
Tea is the 2nd most consumed drink in the world after water.
Tea is a source of copper, fluoride, magnesium and potassium.
An anti-oxidant found in tea can reduce heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
There are over 3.000 varieties of Camellia sinenis.
Sinensis means ‘from China’.
Tea is high in flavournoids – a plant based anti-oxidant which hinders free radical damage to cells. (Aging.)
The anti-oxidants in tea are equivalent to 1 glass of red wine or 7 glasses of orange juice.
Vitamin A, B, E and K are present in tea.
You can use tea to flavour soup, fish and meat and to add colour to sauces, desserts and cakes.