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Protection of Darjeeling Tea as a Geographical Indication

Protection of Darjeeling Tea as a Geographical Indication
Protection of Darjeeling Tea as a Geographical Indication(Article Source teaboard.gov.in)
Darjeeling Tea – The Best
(A quest for intellectual property rights)
10 million kgs of tea grown every year
87 Tea gardens grow this fabled tea
at over 5,000 mts. above sea level
spread over 17,500 hectares of land

4 flushes
Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one" -- Ancient Proverb


The quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin It possesses a flavour and quality which sets it apart from other teas, giving it the stature of a fine vintage wine. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Any member of the trade or public in ordering or purchasing Darjeeling tea will expect the tea to be the tea cultivated, grown and produced in the defined region of the District of Darjeeling and to have the special characteristics associated with such tea.  Consequently, Darjeeling tea that is worthy of its name cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world. Darjeeling tea cannot be replicated anywhere. It is this equity that is sought to be protected by the Tea Board and the Ministry of Commerce under the norms of the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO.
As champagne cannot be manufactured in any place other than the Champagne District of France (even though the grapes used are the same kind) but has to be referred to as sparkling wine, in the same manner only tea grown and produced in the defined area of the Darjeeling District in  State of West Bengal, India can be called DARJEELING tea. Any tea grown in any other region from the same sort of tea plants cannot be called Darjeeling tea.
Darjeeling tea, a rare coveted brew which is desired globally, but is only grown in INDIA.

Darjeeling- A Paradise

In the northeast Indian region of Darjeeling, women tea pluckers make their way up the steep mountain paths every day at dawn towards the 87 fabled gardens that have been producing the highly prized black teas for over 150 years. Located on grand estates some perched at altitudes of over 5,000 mts. the gardens are in fact plantations that, at times, stretch over hundreds of acres. But, they are still 'gardens', because all tea grown here bears the individual name of the garden in which it is grown.

First planted in early 19th century, the incomparable quality of Darjeeling teas is the result of unique and complex combination of agro-climatic conditions prevailing in the region, altitude, meticulous manufacture and disdain for quantity. The climate of Darjeeling is perfect for tea cultivation. Tea requires at least 50 inches of rainfall annually. Alternate spells of rain and sunshine are considered good for the crop. Also, the fog helps in maintaining the required level of moisture. The tea bush grows at a height of 700 to 7000 metres above sea level, so it has all the space that it needs to grow.

Why is the location such a hallmark?

There are both scientific as well as popular religious beliefs behind why Darjeeling is the most suitable place to grow tea. The local people believe that the Himalayan range is the abode of Shanker Mahadeva and the breath of God brings winds that cool the brow of the sun filled valley, and the mist and fog which provide the moisture. The fountain that flows from the piled hair of Shiva provides water for the crop and it thrives. The diversity of Darjeeling tea is further accentuated by differences in wind and rainfall that depend on the altitude and exposure of the slopes under cultivation.

The quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin.  It possesses a flavour and quality which sets it apart from other teas, giving it the stature of a fine vintage wine. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Any member of the trade or public when ordering or purchasing Darjeeling tea will expect the tea to be the tea cultivated, grown and produced in the defined region of the District of Darjeeling and to have the special characteristics associated with such tea.

Consequently, Darjeeling tea that is worthy of its name cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world.

Darjeeling tea cannot be replicated anywhere.


DARJEELING TEA – a Geographical Indication

Under international law, geographical indications mean indications which identify a product as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Darjeeling tea is India’s treasured Geographical Indication and forms a very important part of India’s cultural and collective intellectual heritage.  It is of considerable importance to the economy of India because of the international reputation and consumer recognition enjoyed by it.

In the legal sphere, countries are seeking to protect Geographical Indications as geographical indications, collective marks or certification marks.

Tea Board, India

All teas produced in the tea growing areas of India, including Darjeeling, are administered by the Tea Board, India under the Tea Act, 1953.  Since its establishment, the Tea Board has had sole control over the growing and exporting of Darjeeling tea and it is this control which has given rise to the reputation enjoyed by Darjeeling tea. The Tea Board has been engaged on a world-wide basis in the protection and preservation of this treasured icon of India’s cultural heritage as a geographical indication.