Agartala: A young entrepreneur, who happened to be the owner of a tea estate in the Unakoti district of Tripura has scripted history in the Northeast by producing hand-rolled tippy orthodox tea in her producing unit and sold it to an Indian exporter at the highest ever price in the state.
Graduated in agricultural science, 24-year-old Sumedha Das ventured into the mission of producing hand-rolled tea on an experimental basis when she had noticed new leaves coming out in their estate called Shova Bagan at Pancham Nagar village after a pre-monsoon shower lashed the district.
A group of women workers accompanied by Sumedha plucked all the tender leaves of the garden in two days in last week of March this year and after drying the leaves naturally, she rolled them by hand using traditional method.
The natural aroma, colour and uneven shapes of tea leaves attracted Amritsar-based 75-year-old international tea dealer – Shahjada Exports Limited.
“Actually, I didn’t produce the tea for commercial purposes. I had theoretical knowledge of hand-rolled tea during college days but never got the opportunity to practice. When I saw the tender leaves coming out after the first rain, I was prompted to experiment with the hand-rolled tea. Next morning after the usual briefing I personally went into plucking to ensure not a single mature leaf mixed up with the tender leaves,” Sumedha said.
She pointed out that it took a week to dry up the leaves in natural process without exposing them in direct sunlight or use an electrical fan or equipment to keep intake of the natural flavour. The dry leaves were shaped up in hand-rolling with appropriate care and caution. Such a large amount of green tender leaves finally made into five and kilogram orthodox tea.
“After seeing the sample and getting to know the details Shahjada Exports Limited bid to buy the whole consignment at Rs 12,500/- per kg, which is the highest ever tea price in Tripura. We sold it in our brand name Neermahal, which is also a tourism icon of the state,” Sumedha attributed.
She however, pointed out that manufacturing of hand-rolled orthodox tea over the year is not possible because the entire process is driven by nature and added, “The first leaves come out only after the rainfall of spring are used for such type of orthodox tea and from next year, we shall try to make commercial production of high value orthodox tea for Gulf countries and Europe.”
Neermahal is the brand of Tripura Green Tea, was started by Sumedha a year ago and by this time it earned appreciation in Indian market. Sumedha had started Green tea manufacturing from last year in Panchamnagar tea processing unit. The state industry department set up the unit in 2017 at the village and handed over the operation to Pancham Nagar Small Tea Growers Co-operative Society but they failed to make optimum use of it.
Sumedha took the unit on lease last year and started manufacturing of green tea and hand-rolled tea.