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International Tea Day: How India’s tea culture has evolved

Tea is regularly consumed in about 64 percent of homes in India and by 96 percent of the family members residing therein

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Tea International Tea Day

New Delhi, May 21 : In India, one thread that binds us unequivocally as a nation, one ritual that truly symbolises unity in diversity is our love for tea. The tea culture in India has evolved with changing trends and preferences.

This International Tea Day, IANSlife spoke to Karan Shah, the fourth generation director of Society Tea who takes us on the journey of tea in India and its changing trends. He also speaks about the challenges faced by the industry and shares some myths and facts related to tea.

How do you think the tea culture has evolved in India? And where do you see it heading?

Shah: With the changing times we have seen the palates of Indians develop too, implying an alteration in the tea market. From a regular and masala chai, to an elaichi, ginger, lemon and more — one thing has, however, remained the same: people like to experiment and get innovative with their steaming cups of invigorating chai. Moreover, there is a strong inclination towards healthy and immunity boosting green teas and the chilled yet refreshing iced teas.

But with the changing trends, do you think the traditional tea is losing its importance?

Shah: The love for traditional tea’ is undeniable all across India. Although there has been a shift in the tea culture of the country , one thing we are witness to is the fact that love for traditional taste of tea, the household favourite blend of the aromatic Indian spices- the masala chai is always going to stay.

A study conducted by the Tea Board of India revealed some interesting consumption patterns among Indian tea drinkers:

About 80 percent tea drinkers in India consume it either with or before breakfast

The eastern states of India especially West Bengal have a remarkably high tea consumption when compared to North, West or South India

Tea is regularly consumed in about 64 percent of homes in India and by 96 percent of the family members residing therein

More than 80 percent Indians prefer their tea with added milk

About 70 percent of Indians prefer buying tea from local grocery stores

While these have been true for India as a market, we have observed some shifts picking up in the country. Two major trend for the coming year are rise in Premix Teas and Herbal blends.

Premix Teas: There was a time when premixes suffered from a bad image, labelled as an unhealthy alternative to traditional tea. However, there has been a complete shift in perception. The market for instant premix tea has grown at a healthy rate since 2011. While the most popular flavours in the market is masala, other blends include lemongrass, ginger lemongrass etc.

Herbal blends: While green tea now enjoys good awareness levels and is fast catching up, herbal blends are on a rapid rise too. Teas infused with flavours of ginger, tulsi, mulethi, stinging nettle tea etc. are known to boost immunity, fight against cancerous cells and soothe throat troubles. Not just this, but a warm cup of tea will help you fight against cavities, which is great for your oral health.

What challenges is the tea industry facing at present?

Shah: Tea is a natural product and there are a lot of factors involved – like the health of the bush, the natural light etc. These factors are major contributor that bring about variations in taste, blends, liquor etc. As a brand or for any tea player, the biggest challenge will always be to stabilise these factors and give consistent taste & quality of the product.

Tell us some myths and facts about tea?

Shah: There have been numerous myths surrounding tea, one of which is tea is dehydrating. Tea is actually diuretic which means it helps in water retention. Also there is a misconception that green tea, black tea, white tea come from different tea buds. They all are a result of different levels of processing.

Share some details of your #StayAtHome campaign.

Shah: We at Society Tea have always been subtly invested in our duty towards society and as India experiences social distancing we have recently launched our visually appealing #StayAtHome campaign. Celebrating India’s unique tea drinking culture, we borrowed poignant shots from our human interest photo series titled ‘Tea Society Called India’, illustrating all those small moments in the day, wherein people come together to brew a delightful experience over a cup of chai.

We aim to encourage people that until such a time is back, let’s not only #StayAtHome #StayIndoors #StaySafeAtHome and grab a cup of Society Tea and look forward to enjoying these moments with our friends, family and close ones.

Society tea has come up with the second episode of its musical web series ‘Sounds of Society’. Please share some details of it.

Shah: Music being an integral part of our lives, has the power of bringing together people across borders, just the way tea does. #SoundsOfSociety is a genre-free, no-rules, and an all-inclusive approach to presenting music-making and its associated performing arts. It features musicians and their grassroots approach to making music, in an entirely collaborative format season.

With Sounds of Society: Season 2, we aim at bringing soulful melodies by collaborating with versatile artistes. It is produced by Urban Beat Project and curated by Laiq Qureshi, and features Woodnote, a saxophonist, composer and producer hailing from Bristol, the UK, accompanied by Bellatrix, a fast rising singer-songwriter, who also happens to be a professional bassist and former world beat boxing champion, having brewed an exceptional arrangement titled, �Sugar On My Sweets’. Both musicians are no strangers to spontaneity, and are known for creating intricate structures on the fly. What you hear is absolutely unpractised, and showcases their versatility and sheer genius both, as a musician and as a producer.

Your expansion plans?

Shah: We have diversified into the category of chutneys and pickles, available in delightful variants, recreating the magical taste of grandmother’s secret recipes bringing back the taste of tradition for new-age consumers, under the name Spice Secrets.

We have also ventured into the category of Dairy products, offering skimmed milk powder, desi ghee and dairy white, an instant dairy whitener. With the vision of serving our customers right we are determined to improvise and adapt with the changing trends.

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

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Entertainment

Maharashtra permits films, teleserials shootings to resume

Accordingly, along with the gradual steps initiated under #MissionBeginAgain, the state government late this evening issued a separate set of guidelines, paving the way for the film industry to keep the show going on.

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Uddhav Thackeray-

Mumbai, May 31 : In a significant decision, the Maharashtra government on Sunday permitted resumption of shootings for films, teleserials, advertisements, OTT, etc with immediate effect, an official said.

The move follows several appeals from the film industry and a delegation of Bollywood bigwigs who called on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in this regard last week.

Accordingly, along with the gradual steps initiated under #MissionBeginAgain, the state government late this evening issued a separate set of guidelines, paving the way for the film industry to keep the show going on.

For the purpose, those intending to resume shootings will be required to submit their applications to the Maharashtra Films, Theatre and Cultural Development Corporation at the Dadasaheb Phalke Film City, Goregaon, or at the district collectorates concerned across the state, said an official.

“After scrutinising the applications, the concerned authority will give the go-ahead for the shooting proposals. They will have to adhere to the Covid-19 guidelines issued separately for the purpose,” an official told IANS.

The 16-page guidelines pertain to awareness among all stakeholders, managing coronavirus risks on the sets/studios and editing facilities, casting and artist management, production offices, trailers, tents, crowd control and physical distancing, handling of equipments, operations controls, actors and junior artistes, contestants for non-fiction shows, staffing, location departments, shoot management, art department, wardrobe, on-set communication, camera, video village setup, sound, electric/grip departments, catering, travel to be minimised with at least one month stay wherever possible and quarantine for 14 days after return.

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Business

India’s core industrial output crashes by over 38% in April

The eight core industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.

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industrial production output

New Delhi, May 29 : The output of India’s eight major industries’ crashed in April 2020 by over 38 per cent on account of the national lockdown implemented to curb the Covid-19 outbreak.

On a sequential basis, the Index of Eight Core Industries had declined by 9 per cent in March 2020.

The eight core industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.

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Business

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala in talks on $1 billion stake in Reliance’s Jio Platforms: sources

Reliance is looking to sell roughly 20% of Jio Platforms through all the private placement deals, the source added.

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NEW DELHI/DUBAI/HONG KONG : Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala is in talks with Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) about investing around $1 billion in the Indian conglomerate’s Jio platforms, three sources told Reuters.

Twitter (TWTR.N) is separately also in talks with Mumbai-based Reliance to invest more than $1 billion in the digital start-up, which houses music and movie apps as well its telecoms venture Jio Infocomm, another source added on Thursday.

“Clearly Jio’s platform is attracting a wide range of world-class investors, given its enormous potential to serve one of the world’s largest marketplaces,” Mubadala said in an email, without confirming whether or not talks were taking place.

Due diligence on a potential transaction with Reliance was already underway, one of the sources said.

If it goes ahead, the Jio Platforms investment would be the largest in an Indian firm by Mubadala, which is the second-biggest state investor in Abu Dhabi after Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), managing about $240 billion in assets.

Reliance and Twitter did not respond.

Jio Platforms has so far already agreed to sell a combined stake of just over 17% through five separate deals with Facebook (FB.O), which spent $5.7 billion on 9.99%, the first to announce its investment in April.

While talks may be taking place with multiple parties, deals may not necessarily materialize and any terms may change, a fourth source, who is familiar with Reliance’s strategy, said.

All four sources declined to be identified because the talks are private.

Reliance plans to wrap up a bulk of the private fundraising by the third quarter of 2020 and then explore a potential public listing in the United States in 2021, one of the sources said.

Both Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) are in talks with Reliance about a possible Jio Platforms IPO mandate, the source added.

Reliance executives visited the United States in February to meet potential investors and bankers and it was looking for a valuation of $90 billion to $95 billion, the source said.

However, the source familiar with Reliance’s strategy said that an overseas listing could still be a long way off and that the company had no immediate need for funds after the recent investments in Jio Platforms.

Before making any decision Reliance would also need to have clarity on rules governing direct overseas listings for Indian companies, which are still being formulated by the government.

Global tech firms prefer listing in the U.S. as it provides companies with greater liquidity and wider access to capital.

Such a deal would help boost Jio Platform’s credentials and provide an exit for some of the big investors that have agreed to invest in it, including private equity firms KKR (KKR.N), General Atlantic, Silver Lake and Vista Equity Partners.

India’s Mint newspaper reported on Thursday that Microsoft is also in talks to buy 2.5% of Jio Platforms for $2 billion.

Talks between Reliance and Microsoft had been on since the two companies announced a cloud computing tie-up last year, a fifth source told Reuters.

Reliance is looking to sell roughly 20% of Jio Platforms through all the private placement deals, the source added.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment, while Microsoft, Goldman Sachs did not respond to requests for comment.

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