Darjeeling is a region in northern India that’s probably best known for the premium quality black tea it turns out. It’s beloved of tea connoisseurs, but oddly enough the total amount of Darjeeling tea sold in a given year is typically greater than the amount grown. Which sounds impossible at first until you realize that some less than scrupulous tea sellers will substitute a tea of lesser quality in order to turn a fast buck by passing it off as Darjeeling.
Which is a problem for tea drinkers and for Darjeeling’s tea producers as well. According to a recent article in the Indian press there are currently “87 estates producing about 8.8 million kilograms of tea” in the region. While this is a relatively modest amount compared to some tea regions, the old catchphrase about quality rather than quantity is applicable here. For more about the problem of fake Darjeeling tea try this article from a few years back.
According to the more recent article, Darjeeling’s tea industry has been contending with a somewhat similar issue over the years. In this case, it’s not the actual tea that’s at issue but rather the Darjeeling name, which a number of businesses and other entities have tried to hijack for their own purposes. Most recently the Tea Board there has been up in arms over a French lingerie company’s appropriation of the Darjeeling name for its products.
But this is not the first time the Darjeeling tea industry has had to deal with this sort of thing. According to one industry insider there have been nearly 30 such cases settled out of court, including an Italian maker of fragrances and other luxury goods, an Indian hotelier, and a French media concern. At odds here is Darjeeling’s “brand name,” which in reality is known as a geographical indication. Other such well known GIs, or “brands,” that are tied to a specific region are the French winemaking regions of Champagne and Bordeaux.
Interesting to note then, and probably not at all coincidentally, is the fact that Darjeeling is often referred to as the Champagne of tea.
Disappointing Darjeeling Tea
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