Darjeeling, Oct 18 : American and Canadian tea importers and retailers have shown a keen interest in the tea grown in Darjeeling as they find its taste exotic.
The 87- odd tea gardens producing the exotic tea for connoisseurs across the world are the real glory of Darjeeling, which is also known as the "Queen of the Hills".
A delegation of ten members, comprising retailers and exporters from America and Canada, is currently, visiting Indian tea gardens. They reportedly are impressed with the rich flavor and aroma of Darjeeling tea. They relished the taste of the brew and described it as unparalleled.
They say that they would promote the consumption of Indian tea, especially Darjeeling Tea in their countries.
"It's our hope that we can take this information and help in building passion we have back in US, Canada to encourage more tea consumption and production and interest in not only Indian tea but Darjeeling tea specially," said Ben Robertson, a member of the American delegation.
The fine quality of Darjeeling tea is the result of the intensive labour put in by tea cultivators.
A Darjeeling tea bush produces only 100 gm of tea a year. Over 20,000 individually hand-plucked shoots yield barely one kg of fine tea. What makes the tea more unique is the fact that the same bushes have four- staged harvesting, yielding four varieties, each unique and distinct from the other. The peak-harvesting season for Darjeeling tea is April-June.
The Indian exporters foresee in tea traders visit from the American continent as an opportunity to expand their wings in the US market.
"At the moment the market of Indian tea is just small but it is growing very fast compared to anywhere else, market is growing very fast. Indian tea by far is considered the best anywhere in the world, but only thing is we have not been able to inform about it," said Rajib Lochan, Indian tea estate owner and exporter.
India produces some 10,000 tones of Darjeeling tea every year and labels it with a certification mark. Since the amount of tea sold worldwide under the name Darjeeling is estimated at more than 40,000 tones, most of it being faked.
India exports the Darjeeling tea, mainly to Middle East, Pakistan, Russia, Germany and UK. Exports in 2007 were about six million kg and India has targeted an increase of 20-25 per cent this year.