Update on the Embargo of Darjeeling Tea

March 31, 2011

Last week I spoke too soon about the end of the tea embargo. Yesterday, March 30th, it was reported in USA news that the embargo was in force once again as discussions continued to break down and the tea remained held captive. Today I learned that the embargo has been lifted on tea from the 63 tea gardens that are members of the Darjeeling Tea Association.

Just this morning I learned that the embargo of the tea has been lifted once again and that the tea will begin moving from the tea gardens. Our 1st flush Darjeeling tea samples are expected to leave India on Friday. Clearly this is still a very volatile situation and we have our fingers crossed for a good outcome for the tea workers as well as the tea gardens owners.

Read the latest reported news from the Calcutta India Telegraph:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110330/jsp/siliguri/story_13784077.jsp

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March 23, 2011

Just as I was about to publish this post, I found out that the embargo has been lifted and the dispatch of tea is beginning. Happily, our tea samples will be on the way in a day or two. Which means that we should have our first-of-the-year Darjeeling teas in early March, which is right about on schedule. I thought that I would post the story anyway, for its information and context.

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Embargo in Darjeeling Prevents 1st Flush Tea from Leaving India

In the Darjeeling tea producing region of West Bengal, the GJMM (Gorkha JanMukti Morcha), a majority party in the hilltown of Darjeeling is supporting a charter of worker demands over wages, housing and fuel issues and medical benefits. As a result, and until the demands are negotiated and settled, the GJMM is disrupting the dispatch of newly made 1st flush Darjeeling tea.

Essentially, the newly-made 1st flush spring teas are being blocked from leaving the 80-plus Darjeeling tea factories, a move that could be financially crippling to the already shaky financial situation of many tea factories in Darjeeling. The wage demands by the GJMM are asking for a nearly doubling of the workers pay, a sum which many of the tea gardens are not financially able to meet. Thousands upon thousands of tea workers are needed to meet the seasonal demands of the tea harvest in these tea factories over the course of three seasons, and not all of the tea produced fetches the high price that 1st flush Darjeeling tea commands.

The majority of voters in the hills are tea garden workers as well as members of the GJMM. The prevailing belief is that the GJMM has taken this position in order to try and secure three Assembly seats in the hills when voters go to the polls on April 1st. By taking this position the GJMM would gain new members in the Darjeeling hills as well as in neighboring tea producing regins of the Dooars and Terai.

Tea gardens owners are pleading for the tea to be released and for talks to resume after the release of the tea. The tea gardens fear that the 1st flush teas from neighboring Nepal will be used by tea companies around the world to replace Darjeeling teas in their tea blends. As of March 17th, no further progress has been made in this situation.

For us here at Tea Trekker, we will proceed with our orders for 1st flush Darjeelings ( and 1st flush Nepal teas, too ) and take delivery of these teas as they become available. We do not need to contract for, or cancel and adjust for, our Darjeeling 1st flush teas because we offer them straight and un-blended. We trust that negotiations will bring tea parties to a middle ground and that the strike will not cripple the gardens ability to function.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110318/jsp/siliguri/story_13731323.jsp

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3 thoughts on “Update on the Embargo of Darjeeling Tea

    • Thanks, Kaushu, for the link to your blog. Lots of good information and photos, here, too. Such a beautiful place……

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