Kolkata Tea Market auction, a fascinating experience
Except for the best teas, which are mostly purchased directly from the tea gardens, common varieties are sold at auction, the principal markets being in Kolkata (Calcutta). Public tea auctions have always played a key role in tea sales in India for over a century, ever since the first tea auction center was established in Kolkata in 1861. Tea-Board of India supervised the auctioning of tea and handle more than 500 million kilograms annually. The auctions take place every Tuesday. Only licensed brokers are admitted to the auctions. Accredited guests are also allowed to observe the auction behind the glass screen. Typically, Brokers received details on the forthcoming sale, including tea estates, elevation, organic or regular, production lot etc. in advance. One day before the auction, Brokers get the opportunity to taste the tea. Tea auctions are mostly carried out in reverse – each round starts with the highest price and then it gets gradually lowered until the bidders raise their hand to claim the lot. Our company mostly purchase tea directly from the tea estates in Darjeeling, Sikkim, Assam and Nilgiris and this picture is one of the tea tasting events that we attended in Darjeeling. However, we participated a few times in these auctions to gather valuable knowledge and experience in the process.