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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Assam Chai Bar to open in Guwahati

This from the Times of India, by Naresh Mitra

Incidentally one of my favourite teas, although in bags, is Twinings Chai

GUWAHATI: Sipping the favourite cuppa will soon be a different experience here as the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) is all set to open an exclusive lounge bar for tea, where brew lovers can taste, enjoy and explore the state's diverse variety.

The lounge, named Assam Chai Bar, is expected to start from August this year. "Assam tea itself is a brand. The tea lounge bar is going to add a different taste. People can sit, sip and try out different flavours," said GTAC chairperson Ravi Capoor.

Capoor, who is also principal secretary of the industries and commerce department, said the tourism department would help in marketing the lounge bar. "The tourism department will help us by mentioning the lounge bar in its literature and publicity materials. Besides, there will be promotional campaigns. The basic objective is to promote our tea along with tourism in the state," added Capoor.

As Guwahati is the gateway and the economic hub of the Northeast, a number of people come here on business. The tea can be popularized among them as also foreign tourists. "Whenever people come to Guwahati, they look for the best of Assam teas. Many a time they do not find them in the market because they do not know the variety. The lounge bar will be a one-stop destination where different varieties of tea will be available," said Capoor.

From Assam orthodox and green teas to Crush Tear Curl (CTC) like second flush tea, autumnal tea and rainy season, the lounge bar will have it all. People will also get the opportunity to explore the differences in the flavours of Brahmaputra Valley, Barak Valley and Darjeeling tea. There will also facilities for Singpho tea at the bar.

With Assam tea getting a beating from Kenyan and Sri Lankan teas in the international market, Capoor felt the lounge bar would be a small step in promoting the state's beverage. Assam produces about 13 per cent of world tea and 52 per cent of Indian tea.

"Coffee bars are coming up everywhere. We need also to do something to promote Assam tea. Although tea lounge bars have come up in other cities, the one in Guwahati will be an exceptional one in terms of variety. The lounge bar will attract the young generation too," said chairperson of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Bidyananda Barkakoty, adding that the lounge bar will be managed by tea producers, buyers, brokers and warehouse associations.

"GTAC has been selected for the lounge bar because it is one of the oldest tea auction centres in the world. GTAC being the stakeholders of tea producers, buyers, brokers and warehouse keepers, it is the appropriate place for the lounge bar," he explained.

Capoor also informed that IIM, Shillong has been engaged to prepare a report on why GTAC is losing in the auction to Kolkata. Many tea producers in the state opt for selling directly in Kolkata instead of auctioneering at GTAC. "We have been persistently telling tea companies to sell tea through GTAC. The report will find out why tea is being diverted from GTAC and suggest remedial measures," Capoor said.

In 2009, 138.5 million kg tea was sold through GTAC. It came down to 130.36 million kg in 2010.

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