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India set to sip Jungpana Darjeeling
The Times of India Jul 26 2014
Although an Indianowned 115-year-old brew that's acclaimed by its worldwide connoisseurs, Jungpana Darjeeling has never been a known name to the lovers of the finest Darjeeling tea in the country .
The elusive Darjeeling brand -which has been catalogued at the royal grocer Fortnum and Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, across all top hospitality places and high-end global markets -will now be available in India in tea bags and branded loose format.
So far, the leaves coming from the southern slopes of Darjeeling had always been sold through auctioneers and private sales via brokers to every other part of the world except India. Started by legendary British planter Henry Montgomery Lennox in 1899, the Jungpana Tea Estate was acquired by the Kejriwals in 1956 from the Ranas of Nepal, who had acquired the garden following the departure of the British.
Shantanu Kejriwal, the third-generation tea planter and current owner of Jungpana, told TOI: “I missed the bus in the US market to brands like Makaibari and Ambootia. This time, I can't afford to make the same mistake in India. I am already late, so I have decided to take the select retail path as soon as possible. If not now, some other brands might grab the space.“
Initially, the planter would open Jungpana counters at two high-end shopping malls each in Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and later in Bangalore. Kejriwal has already spoken to top shopping mall brands like Spencers and plans to unveil exclusive Jungpana tea counters within two months' time.
Apack of ten Jungpana pyramid tea bags -of first flush, second flush and green varieties -would be priced at Rs 250 in India. Jungpana loose first flush black, oolong/green and post second flush will be sold for Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,500 per kg respectively in India. On the availability of customers of such a high-value tea in India, Kejriwal claimed, “I will be selling it in retail coun ters at nearly wholesale prices in India, which would be almost one-fourth the European market rates. Young Indian tea buyers wouldn't mind paying more for it, which would still be lesser in price than a can of cola, unit-wise.“
Arun N Singh, MD, Goodricke group, which owns another iconic Darjeeling tea brand Castleton, welcomed Kejriwal's decision to retail Jungpana tea. Singh, who is also the chairman of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), said, “It's good that Indian buyers will have more options among the finest quality tea brands. India is a huge and mature market and it will be better if Jungpana steps in.“
For the last few years, the brand Jungpana has been consistently fetching one of the top average prices at the auction houses and private sales bodies. According to last available figures from J Thomas & Co Pvt Ltd, one of the world's oldest and largest tea auctioneers, on an average, Jungpana sold at Rs 856.33 a kg -its nearest Darjeeling brand Castleton fetched Rs 569.15 -from April to the second week of November.