Deep chill brings delight in Bengal tea belt

By Business Of Agriculture on 03 Jan 2019

Planters in Bengal tea belt are expecting bright post winter high value first flush output for the second consecutive year due to prevailing favorable weather conditions.  

Entire tea belt in Bengal has submerged under chilly conditions. While the mercury in Terai and Dooars in foothills has dipped lower than 5 degree celsius, many high altitude places have been covered under thick snow. Darjeeling city itself and surrounding areas, known for premium quality tea, also had a day-long snow fall after a decade. According to Indian Meteorological Department, the low temperature is likely to continue for the first half of January. 

The chill has brought delight to the planters not only in the hills but in Terai and Dooars too. Put together, the planters in these areas produce around 325 million kgs of processed tea, which is nearly 25% of India’s yield. Last year also, the whole region had a favorable post winter first flush yield after witnessing almost the same temperature dynamics the end of 2017. 

“Tea is a chill loving tree. Hence, normal duration of low temperature is good for its health. But, too low sunshine or foggy weather is not good as it retards bud breaking or opening of new leaves, ” said eminent tea scientist Dr. S. E. Kabir. 

“We are hopeful of positive post winter first flush if overall normal weather condition prevails for entire January,” said veteran planter K. K. Mintri. The same was by senior planter Sujit Seal. 

“Present trend of sunshine is good enough and moisture level in air is also favorable,” said Chairman of Terai Indian Planters Association Mahendra Bansal. “But yes, we need rainfall in January or February to have expected output,” he added. After peak winter dormant phase of no plucking of leaves, fresh healthy leaf, known as ‘first flush,’ starts coming in heavy quantity from mid February and continues till March end. This is the best quality leaf and enjoys highest level of pricing. With 20% contribution to annual output volume, it forms near 30% of rupee value sales. Eventually, first flush always remains under attention of all in tea arena.