Darjeeling Tea is the world’s most expensive and exotically flavored tea. A person with judging ability will tell you that without Darjeeling, Tea would be like Wine without the Champagne. Darjeeling tea is one of the Indian Geographical Indication. It is a very important part of India’s cultural and collective intellectual heritage. It also helps Indian economy because of its international reputation and consumer recognition.
The quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. It possesses a flavor and quality which sets it apart from other teas, giving it the stature of a fine vintage wine. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Any member of the trade or public in ordering or purchasing Darjeeling tea will expect the tea to be the tea cultivated, grown and produced in the defined region of the District of Darjeeling and to have the special characteristics associated with such tea.
Flushes of Darjeeling Tea:
There are four flavors of Darjeeling Tea that are available in market. They are in accordance with plucking period and differ from season to season.
1. Easter Flush (March – April) :
It arrives just after the dormant Winter months. The leaves are tender and very light green in appearance. The liquor too is light, clear, bright and imparts a pleasant brisk flavor
2. Spring Flush (May – June) :
This flush is famed for its prominent quality. The leaf has a purplish bloom. The liquor is more round, mellow and with more colour (amber) and has a slightly fruity flavor. It is during this period that the famous “Muscatel” flavor becomes pronounced.
3. Summer Flush (July – September) :
During this period the nature of the liquor changes, becoming stronger, yet retaining the brightness and character that Darjeeling is known for.
4. Autumn Flush (October – November) :
The Tea during this period has a light coppery tinge and liquors have a delicate character.
Darjeeling Tea as a Geographical Indication:
A Geographical Indication is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.
Darjeeling tea is administered by the Tea Board, India under the Tea Act, 1953. The Tea Board control growing and exportation of Darjeeling tea and it is this control which has given rise to the reputation enjoyed by Darjeeling tea. The Tea Board is the one thats working on the protection and preservation of this treasured icon of India’s cultural heritage as a geographical indication. For this purpose the Tea Board have also registered a Darjeeling logo(logo can be seen above).
This logo is protected by following acts:
The Trade Marks Act 1999 : DARJEELING word and logo are registered certification marks of Tea Board.
The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999: DARJEELING word and logo were the first Geographical Indications to be registered in India in the name of the Tea Board.
The Copyright Act, 1957: The DARJEELING logo is copyright protected and registered as an artistic work with the Copyright Office.
The DARJEELING word and logo are protected as Geographical Indications in India and as Certification Trade Marks in UK, USA and India. The DARJEELING logo is registered in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, former Yugoslavia, Egypt and Lebanon as a collective mark, in Canada as an official mark, as a trademark in Japan and Russia. The DARJEELING word is also registered as a trademark in Russia. Tea Board has pending applications for registration of the Darjeeling word as a certification mark in Australia, as a community collective mark in the EU and as a collective mark in Germany and Japan.
Darjeeling tea was the first product from India that was protected as a Geographical Indication in th European Union.
Why Darjeeling tea is in news now?
Darjeeling tea was given the GI status in 2003 in India and was granted the geographical indication status by the European Union in October,2011, authenticating its origin. This led to phasing out of the products which are not from the district of Benagal, and thus, those products had to be taken out of the market. But it didnt happened so. Blenders in EU started selling their products by mixing 51% of Darjeeling tea with any tea and sold it as Darjeeling tea. Tea board chairman MGVK Bhanu told that to Economic Times. He also said that on 26th September, 2012 European Trade Union decided that only those packets containing 100% Darjeeling tea can be sold as Darjeeling tea. The packets will also have the Darjeeling logo and PGI logo labelled on them. It has also been decided that the European Trade Council and the Darjeeling Tea Association along with the Tea Board will jointly promote Darjeeling tea in the European market. The European Trade Council and the German Tea Association have agreed to confer the protected geographical indication (PGI) status on Darjeeling tea, the first commodity from India to get such a tag. This implies that the brew produced only in Darjeeling can be sold as Darjeeling tea in the European Union.
Conferring GI tag to Darjeeling tea will make it sure that the export of tea from India increases and thus, inturn will help India to grow economically. Also this will reduce the market competition for the tea breeders in Darjeeling and help them grow economically and serve the taste of Darjeeling tea to the whole world.