Economic Times Reports on Darjeeling Tea Joining EU

Wouldn’t it be nice to see this applied to Long Jing green tea, or Taiwan High Mountain Oolong, or Bi Luo Chun, just to name a few. China does have Origin certifications, but they are ineffective and only are issued on packaged tea not bulk. It will be a long time coming if the tea industry continues to feel as if supply chain concealment is a basic trade secret right.

Article taken from The Economic Times titled Darjeeling tea may join EU ‘hall of fame list:

BRUSSELS: India may become only the second non-European country to gain European Union brand-name protection for one of its most famous exports- Darjeeling tea.

Colombia scored a first in September 2007 when it won the EU’s protected designation of origin status for Cafe de Colombia, the brand created by Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers.

India may well follow in Colombia’s footsteps, maybe in the second half of 2009, if all goes smoothly, say experts at the European Commission, who check applications for name protection. The EU protects more than 800 regional foods, insisting that only those producing the products in the relevant region can use such names. Several thousand wine names are also protected.

For example, only ham made using traditional methods near the Italian city of Parma may be called Parma ham; Roquefort cheese must come from its native region in southern France; and Madeira wine from that same-named Portuguese island. India applied in late 2007 for EU protection for Darjeeling. Somewhat bizarrely, an objection to the tea designation may come from the French lingerie company Darjeeling, officials say.

Commission experts said the application, after many months of scrutiny, looked likely to be published in the EU’s Official Journal before the end of the year.

India produces some 10,000 tonnes of Darjeeling tea each year and labels it with a certification mark, since the amount of tea sold worldwide under the name Darjeeling is estimated at more than 40,000 tonnes.

“When we consider that more ‘Darjeeling tea’ is produced outside India than in the Darjeeling region — some estimates put the fig-ure of false Darjeeling — at three times the amount of genuine product, it is easy to understand why,” a Commission background paper said.

Early this year, India also applied to the Commission for EU protection for Kangra tea.

Other non-EU applications have come from China, which wants protection for various fruits as well as types of asparagus, garlic and potato; rice vinegar and a crayfish. The Commission is thought to have returned the files, requesting more data.

Somewhat bizarrely, an objection to the tea designation may come from the French lingerie company Darjeeling, officials say.