The term Darjeeling tea floods our mind with images of the extravagantly green stretches of tea gardens and our tongues yearn for an immediate sip into a cup of that aromatic tea. For evokes an elegant thought in the minds of the connoisseurs, the day doesn't feel complete without a cup of Darjeeling tea. To sustain that feeling among the aficionados, the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) has planned is planning to set up standalone Darjeeling tea boutiques across the country.

The association has chalked out plans for 20 such exclusive Darjeeling tea boutiques across the country to promote this niche product in the domestic market, DTA chairman SS Bagaria told TOI. The panel To support this effort, it has requested the Tea Board of India to support this effort and include the programme in the 12th Plan that commenced from which started from April 2012.

"Being a niche product, the Darjeeling tea has to be promoted in a unique way. The tea boutiques will help attract more people towards this product," Bagaria said. The concept first struck the surfaced in the minds of stakeholders of the industry. They believe as they feel that a rich cuppa of Darjeeling tea should be sipped in the right ambience to enjoy its taste to the fullest.

These 20 boutiques will come up in both tier I as well as tier II cities. While Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai have been identified among tier I cities, Pune, Indore, Ranchi, Raipur and Gurgaon has been marked as the will be the tier II cities, said Bagaria. to get Darjeeling tea boutiques.

It is not mandatory that a city will house just one tea boutique. Depending on the demand, a city can have multiple boutiques as well.

Along with Darjeeling tea, these boutiques will also serve snacks like cafeterias. Each boutique will entail an investment between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore depending on the nature of the city, he added. It is envisaged that these boutiques will come up in association with the Union commerce ministry. "We have had meetings with the Tea Board and they have assured us that they will put this proposal in the 12th Plan to the Union commerce ministry," he said.

Confirming this development, Tea Board chairman MGVK Bhanu said: "I have already put this proposal in the 12th Plan. This is a rather unique idea to promote Darjeeling tea in the domestic market.

" The cost of setting up these boutiques being quite high, the association has requested the government to bear about 50% of the investment, from the government while the rest will be borne by the boutique owner.

The total production of Darjeeling tea in 2011 was to the tune of 8.8 million kg, 70% of which was exported.

Source: Times of India