Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Win for Tea Purists!

Photo credit: Joydeep
Darjeeling tea growers in India have won legal protection for the Darjeeling brand name from the European Union.  Like champagne - which the European Union recognizes as a sparkling beverage from only wineries in La Champagne, France - the European Union now recognizes Darjeeling tea as tea grown only in Darjeeling, India.  Is it just a coincidence that Darjeeling tea is often referred to as the “champagne” of teas?

Photo credit: David J. Fred
Darjeeling tea, known for its flavor, quality, and premium price, is a tea that has been produced in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India for over a century and a half.  It was the British who introduced Chinese tea plants into the region in the 1800s.  According to the Tea Board of India – which regulates all tea from India - the combination of the climate, soil conditions, altitude and meticulous processing has resulted in the special aroma and rare fragrance of Darjeeling tea, making it the most coveted tea. Today, however, the bulk of the tea sold worldwide as Darjeeling tea is in fact, not from Darjeeling.
In response, the Tea Board has been active in protecting the Darjeeling trade name and has registered Darjeeling tea as a “geographical indication” (GI) for tea, which is recognized by the World Trade Organization.  A GI is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.  On December 17, 2012, the European Union agreed to phase out within the next five years the misuse of the Darjeeling tea name with the marketing of tea consisting of blends from outside of Darjeeling, India.

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