Starbucks in talks to sell Darjeeling tea

KOLKATA: Starbucks, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, may soon be serving Darjeeling tea in its more than 17,000 outlets across 49 countries.

The Seattle-based coffee retailer has approached the Tea Board for a licence to import and sell premium Darjeeling tea, Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee told ET.

“They have initiated correspondence with us and have sought some clarification on the present CTM (Certification of Trade Mark) licence,” said Mr Banerjee.

Certification of Trade Mark from the Tea Board is a mandatory for all producers, manufacturers, packagers, blenders, exporters, and traders who wish to sell tea labelled as Darjeeling tea.

The certification is awarded only for teas produced by the 87 authorised Darjeeling estates or gardens and sold as single source or blended Darjeeling teas. The board gets an annual licence fee from all licence holders.

Starbucks, which bought Tazo Tea for $8.1 million to enter tea business in 1999, subsequently teamed up with McLeod Russel India (MRIL), Apeejay Tea, Warren Tea and Chamong Tee Exports to sources teas for the international market.

“It is already present in the Assam tea space. But for selling pure Darjeeling tea in their outlets they need a CTM licence,” said Mr Banerjee.

Nobody is entitled to use the word Darjeeling on packets of tea without a CTM licence, even if the teas originate from the authorised estates.

Source: ET