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A ticket to life for Georgian tea2013-04-15 19:56
Tea plantations in Georgia are in full decline today. Volume of the tea cultivated here is dramatically reducing in the last few years. And though the Georgians do not differ much love for the tea, even a small percentage of the needs in this drink are covered by imported goods, Indian or Vietnamese. Experts believe that 80% of the imported tea is counterfeit and expired products. Why do the people of Georgia, given the desired climate and favorable conditions, have not enough of the tea?
Since the days of Soviet Georgia, we remember the beautiful Georgian movies about the tea, when the outstanding leaf pickers participated in the competition and received the government awards, such as "Hero of Socialist Labor." At the same time, this drink has never enjoyed popularity in Georgia. However, cultivation of tea culture is known here since 30s of the last century, after the famous agronomist Apollo Kvirkvelia introduced it in the Georgian city of Lanchkhuti. Love for this culture to subtropical climate allows the tea growing in Guria and Samegrelo. A small percentage of cultivated in Guria tea is exported. The most common brand of Georgian tea, which can be found in the local market, is "Gurieli."
But today, unfortunately, once a delicious Georgian tea is gradually losing its effect. And it happens due to lack of care for the tea plantations.
There was a time when Georgia consumed 3500 tons of tea. Today, the need has decreased to 1500 tonnes. Although they export the tea to America, Germany and other countries, the volume of the export is minor.
In Georgia, the tea culture is now experiencing difficult time, also because of reduction in the number of factories. There are operating about 15 mini plants willing to accept the crop. In an interview with us the head of the Bahvskoy mini plant Ketevan Vashalomidze shared her concerns over the future of the tea culture: "Plantation are scrubby, as a result the biochemical constituents of tea do not meet the standard. The tea in the end has poor quality. The final production has a good look, leaves make a good impression, but it has no flavor and the appropriate taste. All this affects the profit and turnover of factory production," said Vashalomidze.
In western Georgia tea yield has always been plentiful. In addition to state-owned enterprises the private producers were engaged in the tea business.
A villager Makvaneti Tsiala Babilodze: "We used to grow tea bushes in the yard. We processed them, used and stored tea for family needs. It was a drink with a rare taste. My mother collected tea in the collective farm, she was even a Hero of Socialist Labor. We had a large income from the tea production; now plantations have declined, and it is unknown when they revive," says Tsiala Babilodze.
For the past 6-7 years, the state of tea culture remains the same. This year they are expecting 4000 tons of tea. However, the tea pickers have no hope for a good harvest, since most of the tea bushes run wild, and this is bound to affect the quality and quantity of the crop.
As a result, 90% of the local market is occupied by foreign products. According to the head of Tea Association of Georgia Tengiz Svinidze, tea comes mainly from Azerbaijan, which is exporting not high-quality Lenkoran tea but sells the products purchased in India and Vietnam. In Baku they are processing and packaging the tea. This tea is sold well in the domestic market in Azerbaijan and some parts of Georgia.