Tea Biz
Tea Biz

Episode · 7 months ago

Tea News and Biz Insights - December 17, 2021

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Bulk and Specialty Tea Prices Diverge, a TEAIN22 Forecast | France to Pay €1 Million to Certify Ceylon Tea | Bids total $8 Million HDK at Sotheby’s Inaugural Tea Auctions| NEWSMAKERS – Shekib Ahmed of Koliabur Tea Estate, Assam, India and Abhijeet Hazarika @TeaSigma | GUEST – Mary Cotterman, founder Mary Cotterman Pottery, Asheville, North Carolina, USA| FEATURES – This week, Tea Biz travels to Asheville, NC, to meet teaware potter and ceramist Mary Cotterman, who discusses the artisan spirit and state of mind of those embracing native clay and how COVID-19 lockdowns focused her attention like a monk.Then, to Assam, India, to hear Part 2 of the series Frugal Innovation. In this segment, Aravinda Anantharaman explores the application of Frugal Innovation in the tea garden and factories. Shekib Ahmed of Koliabur Tea Estate explains that "Objective data changes the conversation in the factory from vague concepts to thresholds and parameters. It makes operations scientific so that we can improve.”Born from Mud –In 2015 Mary moved to China to learn from the old masters how to make clay teapots in the style of Chaozhou Gongfu and to speak Mandarin. She spent two years there learning from a master in the Beijing school, becoming the first westerner to throw shou la hu teapots. She next studied at the Sanbao International Ceramics Village in Jingdezhen, the home of porcelain for 1700 years. She returned to the US in 2018 and makes her home in Asheville, North Carolina, where you will find her crafting water jars, pitchers, teacups, celadon gaiwans, and ash-glazed Japanese-style Kyusu teapots in a wood-fired kiln. - By Dan BoltonFrugal Innovation: In the Garden and Factories –Embracing Simple Technology with Scalable Impact | Frugal innovations utilize simple technology to address the most vexing challenges facing the tea industry. It's an umbrella term for innovations that do not require much capital, carry a low financial risk, and can be done safely with high reliability. For an industry that’s been grappling with multiple challenges, frugal innovation is a low-risk and impactful option, spearheaded by an industry veteran with an eye for innovation. For every successful experiment, many fail, but these are essential to the process that begins with the question, “What if…?" - By Aravinda Anantharaman

The tee Biz podcast delivers a recap of the week's major tea news headlines, with commentary and cultural trends. Hosted by Dan Bolton, Te Biz is the voice of origin for tea professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. Think of us as a digital caravan of story tellers, bringing authentic, authoritative and exclusive stories to you weekly from the tea lands. Hello everyone here. This week's headlines. Bulk and specialty tea prices diverge. A tea in twenty two forecast. France will pay one million euros to certify ce long tea and SOTHOBIES. Inaugural tea auctions total eight million Hong Kong dollars. Don't miss part two of the serious frugal innovations later in the podcast. More in a minute, but first this important message. What makes a Perfect Cup of Ceylon tea? The Perfect Cup is from the tea businesses that ensure the protection of all the children living within their tea estates. We Salute Kailani Valley, tell a Wackilee, Bogajan, Thalawa, Harana and Elyptia tea, the estates support see the children. Shri Lanka tea in twenty two is the first of a dozen New Year tea forecasts. The combined annual growth rate predicted for tea in two thousand and twenty two suggest consumer preferences for health enhancements and premium taste will widen. The profitability gap separating bulk CTC from whole leaf and specialty grades. The fortunes of the tea industry are cyclical. Demand in recent decades has been resilient, including during a great recession, some would say relentless. During the five years ending two thousand and nineteen, demand grew at around four point five percent per year. The pandemics flowed that pace. But consumption in two thousand and twenty two will pop six point five billion kilos, enough to make three billion cups a day. Until recently, growers managed to quench that thirst, but disrupted that equilibrium. In Two thousand and twenty is that tea output decline for the first time in twenty years. The resulting scarcity in domestic markets, including India and China, boost at prices. I see R a a division of Moody's Financial Race. Meetings in October two thousand and twenty predicted correctly that the boat tea segment would report...

...the highest operating profits in recent history. In Two thousand and twenty one, the situation reversed as more tea became available and prices decline. Compounding the supplied demand equilibrium is the fact that consumer behavior rapidly changed. Consumption Habits as office drinkers vanished, food service sales plummeted and health and well being became a daily concern. The result, better tasting teas triumphed, once content with commodity offerings at the office and in restaurants. The pandemic accelerated growth in the residential segment. Sales of botanicles and blends and grocery and online spiked. In Germany, for example, per capital consumption of teas and botanicles increased by an average two leaders to seventy leaders per person per year. Market Research Firm technologia writes that, quote, consumption of tea for residential uses significantly growing, as consumers are continuously seeking changes in their lifestyles and food habits and experimenting with cuisines and beverages. Moreover, the rising at home consumption of tea is expected to grow at a steady rate owing to increasing urbanization and the changing eating habits of consumers across the world. And quote, technolgio writes that recent growth rates of three to four point five percent per year will accelerate to six percent and greater for the specialty tea market. Through two thousand and twenty six, the segment will add five point five billion in sales from two thousand and twenty one to two thousand and twenty six, according to Pech Navio. In contrast, boat tea is prescted to have a challenging year, according to ICRA and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India. In a joint report titled Tea Industry at the Cross road, the Chambers of Commerce predicted that declining prices and increasing energy and labor costs will be a drag on financial performance. I SRA, a vice president of corporate sector ratings, Kashik DAS, says, quote, players who are focused on producing quality teas are likely to witness a much lower decline this year, as average auction prices of teas manufactured from own garden leaves of the top fifty estates in a psalm and the doors have witnessed a decline of only eight point five percent, against a decline of twenty five percent for the overall auction average during the first half of fiscal two thousand and twenty two and vote in north...

India prices during the first half of the fiscal year to climb twenty three percent year over year, a drop of sixty rupeas per kilo on average. Compared to two thousand and twenty declines are even more severe and the bought leaf segment, dominated by smallholders. Averages in that segment fell seventy seven rupees per kilo on average, down thirty three percent year over year. In Kenya, auction prices dropped eight percent to two dollars and eighteen cents per kilo in the twelve months ending July first globally, tea production has now returned to pre pandemic totals increasing thirteen percent during the first six months of two thousand and twenty one as growers in India and Sri Lanka adjusted to the pandemic. Output in two thousand and twenty one is expected to top fifteen percent. In Sri Lanka and India has so far produced a hundred million more kilos of tea than during the same period last year. Output in Kenya to climb by ten percent, but exports there of grew nineteen percent, keeping demand and supply in balance. Business inside, the most notable change in two thousand and twenty two is a growing impact of production deficits. The Economist Intelligence Unit first reported tea deficits in two thousand and nineteen and two thousand and twenty and now forecast demand will exceed supply in two thousand and twenty two and two thousand and twenty three by four hundred and twenty seven thousand metric tons. The short fall of a few hundred thousand metric tons will not lead to shortages in the grocery isle, but when combined with the cumulative harm from climate change and with food inflation at record levels, disrupting the long standing equilibrium will certainly firm up prices that had fallen well below the long term average of two dollars and eighty five cents per kilo. Business Inside Shore Lanka is heading for a fall. Fertilis, are banned earlier in the year, is now available, but the cost has risen from one fifteen hundred rupees a kilo to six thousand six hundred rupees, about thirty three dollars per kilo and rising. A ban on the herbicide glass of fate that was he's in November was reversed in December. Output recovered in two thousand and twenty one, but that recovery is highly unlikely to continue due to ongoing economic problems, with widespread protests by farmers over the cost of food and unions pressing for big wage increases. Shri Lanka, where tea is hand plucked, as the highest...

...cost of production in the world, averaging two hundred and sixty nine repeats about the dollar thirty three per kilo. Legendary auction, how Seth Abe's concluded its first rare tea and tea where auctions in Hong Kong. This week. Sales totaled four million Hong Kong dollars for the tea's reserved prices approached one million Hong Kong dollars for Poware, some age for more than a century. Tea Ware as old as a thousand years was featured in a parallel auction titled Echoes Of Fragrance, Tea Culture from the Tang to the Ching dynasties. Sales of teaware totaled four point three million Hong Kong dollars, about five hundred and fifty two thousand us. The online catalog included a one nineteen hundred Chen young help where cake and a one thousand nine hundred and fifty Gie Jane Blue Labeled Tea, the soul for five hundred and sixty two thousand, five hundred Hong Kong dollars, about seventy two thousand us. Bids for a one thousand nine hundred thirty seven basket of Sun Yi Shun Age Leland tea opened at two hundred and forty thousand Hong Kong dollars and sold for three hundred thousand, about thirty eight thousand us. A bit of five hundred thousand Hong Kong dollars is equivalent to about sixty five thousand US dollars, and while that threshold was met for only the rarest of teas, all but two of the twenty four lots were sold. Several of the more recent teas, including a one thousand nine hundred and eighty five snow label, sold for a hundred and twelve thousand five hundred Hong Kong dollars, about Fourteenzero us. The companion tea where auction featured sixty three lots, including Jian black glaze bowl dating back eight hundred years to the Song Dynasty, and a rare iron red Crane Cup dated to the Arraign of Emperor Huchang. In the fifteen hundreds, toumuku patterns, including a Hare's fur that sold for a hundred eighty nine thousand Hong Kong dollars and a partridge feather that sold for four hundred and three thousand dollars. Also purchase were Sullivan Cups and stands, you Shang two pots and a carved Tixie, the lacquered tea bowl that sold for five hundred twenty nine thousand two hundred Hong Kong dollars, about seventy thousand dollars us. During the Tang Dynasty, beginning about fourteen hundred years ago,...

...tea was boiled and served as a soup, while with condiments. Examples from that period include conical tea bowls, unique utensils, tea caddies and trays. Winning Bids Range from about twenty five thousand Hong Kong dollars to fifty thousand dollars, about six thousand U S. and now a word from our sponsor, q trade understands that a successful tea blend goes beyond the creative fusion of appearance, a Roma and flavor. Our Multi Award winning product development team is passionate about converting natural ingredients into sensory experiences that customers crave. Every recipe is formulated with a commercial backbone of dependable quality sourcing. With a pricing structure that supports a safe, regulated, profitable and scalable the plant. Que Trade meets every brand's retail, food service and e commerce need. For more information, visit our website, que trade tea'Scom this way, Tibiz travels to Asheville, North Carolina, to meet teaware Potter and Seramist Mary Cotterman. Mary discusses the artisan spirit and state of mind of those embracing native clay and how covid nineteen lockdowns forced to attention like a monk, and men who a psalm India to here. Part two of the series frugal innovation in this segment are Vinda an etheraman explores the application of frugal innovation in the tea garden and factories. Shakib, a MoD of Collie Bar Tea Estate, explains that quote objective data changes the conversation in the factory from vague concepts to threshold and parameters. It makes operations scientific so that we can improve. Mary Cotterman's twelve when she learned to throw clay on a potter's wheel and the decade since that will never stop for this accomplished tea where artisan. In two thousand and fifteen, Mary moved to China to learn from the old masters how to make clay pots and the style of Shau Joe, Gung Fu and to speak Mandarin. She next studied at the Mingdoy you win production studio, with a residency at Shawn Bao international ceramics village and seeing Darjan, the home of porcelap for seventeen hundred years. She next spent a year learning from a master in the Beijing School, becoming the...

...first Westerner to throw sholahou teapots. In two thousand and eighteen, Mary returned to the United States after a long sojourn across Europe. She makes her home in Ashville, North Carolina, where you will find her crafting water jars, pitchers, tea cups, selad on Gay Wans and ash glaze. Japanese styles quisue tea pots in a wood fired kiln. By Day, she forages for local plants studies traditional folk ways and earth based practices. Mary year arrival in Nashville anchors the western end of a bridge that spans Europe and leads to ancient China, where you spent several years learning Gung Fu style pottery, than speaking the native language of porcelain and using clay. Will you describe for listeners the state of artisan to where in the US? Tea where in the US is very interesting because it is similar reflection of the amalgamation of all these different tea traditions from throughout the world. But wherever tea goes it creates its own unique culture based on how the people in the region live. In the US we've got the British tea where, which is what most everybody's familiar with. A lot of US Seram assists make tea where and teapots in that style. I don't make that kind. I specialize in small Chinese teapots. As the tea community gets more educated and broadens, people are bringing in and getting excited about tea where from different places. So going Fu Cha Chinese tea service is becoming quite popular in the United States and throughout the world. To me it's a really lovely experience that people are getting more and more familiar with pouring tea in this way, which is really exciting to me because it lends an aspect of ritual to people's lives that I think we miss a lot in our, quote, Kittie and daily lives, but because we're rushing to and fro. So the Chinese tea service really invokes this sense of process and ritual. I also make Japanese style q sue pots, which are sort of the low side handled teapots with the big openings, because they're typically used for green tea and so a lot of steam needs to be able to escape the opening and you don't want your pot getting too hot. As people get familiarized with the different styles of tea and regents from all over the world, they're really starting to collect tea where from all over. On your website you mentioned that every gussil contains the wisdom you absorbed from around the world. How do you see the wisdom...

...manifest in your work? That is a good question. The foundation is functionality, because for me, no matter how it looks, if I'm making a piece of Ta are, it needs to be a precise tool for pouring tea. So a lot of my design personally I take from traditional Chinese vessels, but I have learned small techniques and vernacular styles from all over. I've been doing some wood firing recently, which is a really magical process, very labor intensive. That style of wood ash lays was kind is kind of taken to its height in Japan. It's done all over the world, but the particular long firings in very hot kilns for the buildup of wood ash to create this really natural glaze is a long standing Japanese tradition. I think of lineage a lot as in so far as a craftsperson there's a gift that you're given by your teachers, especially with pottery. It's difficult and it's a it's a steep learning curve and you can practice for many, many, many years and still not be an expert. Will you describe the artist and spirit and state of mind of those embracing native clay to make teapots and tea where in the US and elsewhere? This is a really interesting area of exploration because it is at once new in that we're trying to be more ecologically friendly in our artists and practices. We're trying to be climate conscious in our practices so that we can continue making pottery as humanity always has. But it is also something that is historical. Throughout the world's pottery artisans gather around natural sources of clay and each source of clay has its own life story. Eaching clay is very touted and it's incredible and it's very good for what it is, but it is not special in its uniqueness. Every native clay has unique properties based on its life story. The mineral composition and what bacteria is in the soil will affect how it can be worked. So I think the Artistan spirit of working with native clay is integral to pottery itself because we are finding that relationship between the earth and US, between the life story of the clay that began on the top...

...of the mountain and degraded down, eroded rocks, eroded over millions of years, added in plants have their plant material in there that create bacteria and then it gets deposited in a place where you can go and dig it and there's many, multiple ways you can use this in the process. You can make things out of native clay and you can also use them as slip or decorating or crush up rocks to using glades. It's really all about coming back to the origins while also looking forward to a sustainable practice shrills with thriving committity of artists. How has covid impacted the arts community there in general, and you as were too? artisome. Our Studio, which is a big warehouse that's subdivided into different studios, was shut down for a few months. Not being able to get my hands on play was pretty tough. It's a really deep source of grounding and a spiritual connection too, for me also to have a studio practice, so that part was hard. Once our studio opened back up in summer of two thousand and twenty, it was pretty normal and my sales. Thankfully, as a small business, we're doing pretty well. I think people were getting stimulus checks in the US. They were putting those to good use and really super grateful for the tea community that I've mostly haven't met most of you, but you're all online all over the world and really just showed up for the small businesses in the tea community in a really inspiring way. As far as the tea places here, I think I think everyone sort of had to suddenly become more online and do different things like subscription services and, you know, selling more loose tea. I know for some of the sit down businesses it's quite rough. Everybody's made it to the downhill side intact from the tea businesses that I know. Personally, as a creative person, it was really nice to have the social pressure taken off because I have some social anxiety and so being social, while I love it and it's very important to me, definitely takes a lot of energy for me. So during Covid I definitely went into a monk like creative state because all I was doing was staying at home with my dog and my sweetheart and then sort of meditating for hours on end in the studio, silent, almost nobody else in there. So it was a really lovely time where the whole world slowed down and I could just tune in and listen really deeply. The craft. Frugal innovation is an...

...umbrella tom under its any innovation that has the risk and high safety and reliabilities included. In India, Davetna BISSAZATICA has been working on these projects with successful pilots. If your partners sits. In Pot one we looked at frugal innovation and tea buying and selling. Continuing from there we look at frugal innovation and this application of the tea gotten tea plant. Should keep am of Kali about t stage in Assam. Talks about some of these experiments, but she keep as pilot. is several projects in the field. It's in the factory. He says that they've seen the biggest impact. With his data, I have an objective source of attention to detail. I don't have to depend on someone who has been working in the tea industry for forty years to use his expertise and muscle memory to guide us. I have objective data and that really helps me change the conversation in the factory. I'm not talking of vague concepts, I'm talking of numbers. I'm talking this is the parameter that we want and we have to keep it within this threshold, and that's that really. It makes it scientific. Then what happens? Even the youngest boy or girl who's joining as an executive, he or she can take it up very quickly. She doesn't have to be there for twenty years. So now we have a young lady in one of our factories in Dobba. She's running or twelve are shift by herself and it's just data. She has the data. He knows that we have to stay within these parameters and the quality is good, so safe and she's got he's in our s. So normally guys running factories at that, at that level, they will be, you know, in the late s and s because you need to have that much experience. But if, if we can objectify data, we can have younger blood come in quickly and the parameter is it. There's more transparency, because it was very opaque before as to which who is performing well in your management team who is not, because it was all objective. Now I have peer numbers. I'd say this is the parameter I want in the factory. These are the numbers. Keep it within these threshold you get good tea. So they are also not operating blind and I'll just telling them make good tea and telling them this machine should be running from this mons to this much. We have a sensor. It'll tell you this process, this manufacturing process, will run from this much to this much parameter. You have a method that we have given you to measure it scientific objectively. You recorded. You record it, share it in our shared platforms we have. We have it on a cloud based platform where we shared the data and we keep verifying it and based on that we can...

...it stays within a regiment, so we're not there are many little things in production where, in a way we were operating blind and now we have a certain level of clarity. So that really helps US improve. She keeps using temperature meters in the factory. Incidentally, this was developed by a young boy at a cost that I was you only will say is laughable. Three machines are idy in one of them is that she keeps factory attention to detail, which was one subjective, has now become scientific and objective. She keep lins processing tea to cooking and how, by tweaking temperatures in the APM of machines, the quality of tea changes exponentially. These innovations are sense of base and are already news in other industries. She keep reminds me that the color sort as in Orthodox te production were derived from rice satters. The course of my conversation with a bidgets. We discuss people, Welfare, productivity and speaking a little productivity, he says it's not because people are shying away from work but because of the nature of the work. Yet times when I have student the Gardens in Augustin and it is so hot that you know, I I myself, you know, could not stand modern forty five minutes to an hour before, you know, I felt unwell. These people do a day in there. So you know, it's it's difficult and I know, I don't think anybody talks about this. So I sometimes feel that in order that so much of high and you know about, you know, the romance of when carrying the bags of central actually realize what goes on. In that case it's like a funnest. And that we talked about harvesters to most of the harvesting machines, he explains, are handheld machines and they tend to be noisy and heavy to carry there, for men are assigned the machines. Not only is a tiring work, but it's hard to keep one's hand steady with them. This means the quality of the plucking is not going to be very good. Terrain poses another challenge, with harvesters, even in a PSAM's valleys, whereas it isn't uneven terrain, and this challenge is amplified in the hills. So when a big talks about harvesters, but not to increase quantity but as a means to aid quality, he's looking at two major deliverables. One is the quality of the finely plucked leaf. Should be at least five eggs better than what is plucked by current machines and at least two eggs better than what has been plucked by hand. And the second priority on the field is pests. The cost of pest and disease controls huge, especially when there are large areas to monitor, which is the case with the estates that run into many hectares. BESTS can spread within two to three days, offering a very small window to arrest the spread, and early warning system, says she keep, can make a difference. However, this seems to be a mammoth task, perhaps the most challenging space to build innovation, because for every pest a year's worth of data needs to be collected to feed their algorithms. But nowhere in the conversation do we turn to talk about machine is replacing people with always about utilizing labor...

...effectively to increase output and with better quality, because ultimately it comes down to the perennial problem of oversupply and reduced demand and the mad scramble for markets. INDIANTE producers do not make to order, but make to stock, the priorities to sell. The circle that begins with variability in quality of t closes with variability in press realization. A me two order will bring other advantages, as it's collaborative and brings both technical and technological inputs as part of the process. I think the TT industry supply chain is completely out of Synk. It the way you know modern supply chains work. Okay, there is no concept of me to order or very filled with it. They will say that you know, of our contracts are made to order. I beg to disagree, because you know when you say that you know I will take a t from you. You will say, I will take a tea of a particular quality from you. Okay, and that guy, you know, guy who's making it, is in many cases not even aware of what you want. So so, because a bit of your ability here and there, you have to ability to reject okay. So without specifications from the quality bus, I don't think it to order. Is that right? So that's my take. You know, people will disagree, which is fine, okay, but I think one of the most important things of me to order is to leverage the most unique aspects of a state or a factory that has consumer value. So every garden, you know, every garden or every factory will have something which is unique, you know, to a particular to a particular market or to particular set of consumers likes. For example, somebody might make very good you know what color okay, which is ideal. It was sort of lend in Maharashtra, or, you know, to go dry, or somebody make very good you know after taste. You know what the good drop is called, as meethoppen, naturally sweet m okay, which comes basically from the from the area that comes in and very good quality manufacture. So on this we are able to actually, you know, you know, just you know, treat every garden as unique and not as of a bodity. Well, this is a familiar story of not treating teas commodity. A pichy offers a road map of sorts. That's possible because of frugal innovation. Once you have the quality specifications are producer can do real time monitoring during manufacturing. All the resources are then focused on producing only what meets suspects. This, in turn optimizes the cost of production and increases the likelihood of the customer buying it because it's made to their specifications. This turns the focus to buyers, because ultimately the change has to begin with them. If the large team buyers are procuring, say one thou million kilos of Ta Year, as you may, and average pretty state produces one million kilos of tea, that's Onezero four hundred estates. That can geter...

...to a single buyer, and change can begin with one single buyer. This too is seen in action. Sort of talks about how he's piloting the Mike to order model his partner with a buyer who's agree to buy his state a higher than every hitch price and in return, sort of assure team of quality, which is achieved by managing the parameters when processing in the factory, consistency, which is ensured by recording data such as temperature and moisture levels, safety, which is being done by educating roles on chemical usage and monitoring it. They may not be certifications here, but data is being recorded digitally and is being analyzed, and for those who have wondered the alternative to expensive certifications, this may well be it, because the proof is there for anyone to see. She keep talks about how the conversations are changing and becoming more specific. Is Helping him build a young team who are learning, who are not a verse to technology and who rays of focused on quality. Innovation, he says, is no longer just for multinationals but for everyone. The larger outcome is most significant, because frugal innovation will change the way the industry has run. Will no longer be about waiting for an executive to invest thirty for two years in the factory to be relied upon to run it. It can bring effective processes into play in a way that someone young can be trained early on, and this is important. In state like Asama, migration is extremely high and the intellectually able who leave don't return. The work on trugal innovation is made possible by harnessing experience, a wide network and an active collaboration with academia and industry. Support and partnerships have already come from jort buyers. The possibilities were technic play are vast and both chicky and sort of seed. As a way forward, coming with an open mind, advice is to keep it needs a willingness to try piloting the various options and because it's been designed to be frugal innovation, it's affordable even by small growers and Small Gardens. Sort of confesses that he didn't buy into it readily, but the potential to earn a better price for the tea he was making was a strong pull. All it took was a month before he could start seeing that it was working, and he's since been advocating it for an industry that's been grappling with multiple challenges. throughgle innovations a low risk and impactful option. It spearheaded by an industry veteran. Every successful experiment there are many that fail, but these two are essential to the process that begins with a question. What if, intrigued by what you heard in today's podcast, would you like to learn more from our global network of Tebis journalists and t experts? Remember to visit the TV is website for more comprehensive coverage. That's wwwt Biz Biz alcol thanks for listening. Farewell till next week.

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