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India being the leading producer of tea in the world, the scope for a career in this field is immense. Tea companies or tea gardens, Tea broking Houses, Tea associations and the Tea Board of India offer lucrative positions.
An experienced tea planter can move into tea brokerage or tea tasting or take up a job in a tea broking house. Senior professionals can branch off into becoming consultants offering advice. Those academically inclined may get into research positions open at many tea plantations.
Plantation / Factory Managers
Tea gardens are controlled by Managers who have junior assistants and Assistant Managers, depending on the size and requirement of the garden, to assist them in the smooth functioning of the tea estate. Their work involves supervision of all plantation work involved from planting to plucking, processing to packing and transport of tea to auction houses. New entrants are taken on as Assistants at the plantation level. Experience is the deciding factor in the appointment of a manager. It is a long wait as it usually takes twelve to fifteen years. The Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bangalore offers a training programme on the relevant subject under the Indian Commodity economy.
Tea tasting is a highly specialised area. Tea tasters differentiate between
the various flavours of tea and help to brand the varieties according
to quality. Most tea companies employ tea tasters for ensuring quality
standards, and preparing blends. Tea tasting is typically learnt on the
job. Tea tasters have to develop the expertise to distinguish between
the taste and aroma of different teas. Tea tasters need to develop managerial
as well as marketing skills. Tea tasters should keep their sensitivities
clean and should keep smoking, drinking and intake of spicy foods in check.
The drawbacks can be damage to your digestive system especially at the
peak season when you may have taste as many as 200-300 cups of tea a day
and result in stains on your teeth which has to be removed periodically.
Tasters are recruited by manufacturing companies, brokers as well as buyers. In a manufacturing company, the taster detects defects in the production process by looking at the colour and size of the leaves to determine if they have been fermented or dried under fire and sends them back to the factory to rectify if needed. They also have to coordinate with gardens, look after import and exports, advise researchers on commercial factors like taste, economic viability and maturability of tea etc. In the broker's office, the taster plays an advisory role and informs manufacturers about market trends. In buying houses besides ensuring quality, tasters have to know what's happening in both the domestic and international markets. Many youngsters opt for this profession because of the out-of-the-ordinary nature of the work and the high pay.
Research is an integral part of the industry. Much research is conducted by botanists, biotechnologists and other scientists, who study methods of producing disease-resistant, high yielding varieties of tea, as also strains that produce leaves that are natural blends of various teas. They receive advise from tea tasters on commercial factors like taste, economic viability and maturability of tea. The Tea Research Association at Jorhat (Assam) is a premier organisation where pioneering work is being done in the field of research. The research associations as well as Tea plantation owners employ researchers.
Tea brokers act as intermediaries between the planter-producer and the buyer, and must be up-to-date with market trends and international prices. A background in tea industry and developing a keen tea tasting ability are important requisites in becoming a broker. At the auction centers, the tea samples are listed and evaluated by tea brokers. There are broking houses in the country where the brokers test the various samples of tea, which come from the different tea gardens. Those planning to become brokers should be level headed and disciplined and be able to strike a good rapport with producers and buyers.
The tea board of India and various tea associations employ consultants. Experienced tea planters can take up consultancy services proffering advice on the varieties of tea to be planted, new varieties and their sources, recruitment and training of personnel, compensation, benefits and incentives to labour and so on.
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