Photo: reuters
Photo: reuters

With many youngsters in China opting for black tea, the predominantly green tea-drinking nation is increasingly importing orthodox black tea from India, traders said.

China is the world’s largest tea-producing country with an annual output of 1.4- 1.5 million tonne (MT) of green tea. India is the leading producer of black tea in the world with a 25% share of the total production. India consumes 75-80% of its own production.

“Youngsters in China are drinking more black tea as against the culture of drinking only green tea. China does not have any black tea-processing factory and it is importing increasing quantities of orthodox black tea from India,” Sriram Narayana-swamy, president of Global Tea Brokers, told FE. He feels that like any other country, the new generation in China wants to do things differently from their parents and is opting for the strong and black orthodox tea.

According to Tea Board data, India exported 3.74 million kg of tea to China during the April-January period of FY16, as against 2.89 million kg of black tea during the corresponding period of FY 15. It is a huge increase in volume in the past few years as Indian tea exports to China was almost non-existent in the past, sources said. “In the past, the Chinese demand for black tea was met from the waste of green tea and the infusion was very poor in taste and quality. They are now looking for good value tea and importing from India,” Ulhas V Saraf of Saraf Tea said. Saraf Tea exports mostly to China and Europe.

India exports the CTC tea variety mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the UK, and the premium orthodox variety to Iraq, Iran and Russia. Orthodox tea is made of the two top leaves of each plant, thus giving the best quality of tea, rich in taste and capable of multiple infusions. The CTC method uses machines to process the tea with the leaves, buds and stems crushed and torn by several rollers.