Tea growers in Darjeeling, India have won legal protection for the Darjeeling label, which had been used for decades to brand teas that weren’t made exclusively of leaves from the region. The European Union has agreed to phase out the use of the name on blended teas over the next five years, after Darjeeling was declared a “geographical indication” for tea by the Tea Board of India and the declaration was recognized by the World Trade Organization.
What’s the Big Idea?
The mountainous terrain around Darjeeling limits production of its tea to 20 million pounds, which is about 1 percent of India’s total tea output. However, 88 million pounds of tea labeled “Darjeeling” were being sold globally each year. Local growers decided to take action, resulting in the Tea Board designation. European Union ambassador to India João Cravinho says, “[I]t was accepted that there was specificity [with Darjeeling tea] that is unique — and geographically based.” Tea estate superintendent Anil K. Jha believes the labeling restriction will both improve profits and ultimately preserve the uniqueness of his product.