Some good news for tea pickers in Assam this week with a new package of plucking incentives reported by the Calcutta Telegraph to supplement the basic wage of 136 per day (USD2.02). Someone picking 25 kg of tea will now be able to earn 186 rupees (USD 2.75) during the harvest season.
All does not seem well in the state of Darjeeling where almost every tea estate is feeling the pinch and losing money. The Economic Times reports that Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has urged the industry to maintain standards for the champagne of teas during these difficult times. From bad to worse, The Hindu highlights the competition to Darjeeling from lower priced tea coming over the border from Nepal.
Elsewhere in India, The Hindu also tells us of daring raids by Food Safety officials on wholesale food traders in Chennai to seize adulterated tea. It appears that low quality tea is mixed with a, potentially harmful, colouring agent to make it look more attractive to customers.
Much better to mix any leftover tea with exotic sounding fruit pieces and added flavouring and get the Marketing boys to give it a fancy name. Apparently (and surprisingly) and according to the Irish News the fashion for fruit infusions and the like has found its way into Ireland along with a claims of outrageous health benefits while our friends at Starbucks have launched a summer Sangria tea.
Meanwhile in Uganda, the Government have brought in some experts to discover why tea production is 20% below potential with a view to improvement in farmer incomes by 2020. Uganda current occupies 14th place in the world tea production league table.
This weeks Boffin watch is limited to a study by the University of Tampa as to whether green tea can prevent prostate cancer in humans after promising results with mice. There was, however, a gratuitous tea and health article on AsiaOne which contains some of the most questionable 'facts' on the subject that I have ever come across. Maybe something was lost in translation.
On the topic of health, the Daily Mail explains how Tetley are responding to falling sales of black tea bags by popping in some added vitamins to give it a health boost. This could easily be mistaken for cynical marketing.
Finally, a story from the Indian Express about a tea company sending 6000 tea bags to Donald Trump. In their covering letter they explain how tea can "purify mind and body and regain a healthy balance. It has also proven to make people smarter." Let's hope Donald can share around with his fellow politician friends.