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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Freedom fighter’s Swadeshi tea firm is now a Rs 480-crore brand

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An Indian freedom fighter formed Indian Tea and Provisions to fight the British rulers. The company, rebranded to Luxmi Tea, now sells 200,000 tons of tea per year and is worth Rs 480-crore brand

The year 1912 was a landmark moment in India when it was ruled by the Britishers. Delhi was designated as the country’s new capital. Meanwhile, Bihar and Orissa were declared independent provinces of the British Raj, and motor vehicle registration was instituted.

A man in Paeracherra was busy carving his weapon to oppose colonial tyranny miles away from the new capital of unified India, in Tripura’s Unakoti district.

He accomplished this by collecting leaves from a garden estate, shredding them in a chaff machine, and then setting them away for fermentation. The thin shreds were then dried, resulting in largely dust and fannings and a strong cup of tea.

Yes, the young man’s preferred weapon against the British was tea, a culture allegedly established by them in India.

This man was Paresh Chandra Chatterjee, a nationalist and independence fighter who founded ‘Indian Tea and Provisions’ in 1912. He introduced two tea varieties: Orthodox and Fresh Cut Tea. In its initial year, the company employed 500 people, the most of them were Assamese and Bengali students interested in the liberation movement.

Paresh Chatterjee’ grandson, Rudra Chatterjee, is now the company’s Managing Director.

Rudra say that before India was separated from Pakistan, the British owned and controlled tea farms. The tea would be shipped immediately to Calcutta (Kolkata) and then to England.

Paresh Chandra was able to sell it to private buyers in India, thanks to rising demand. As a result of his inspiration, several more small farms sprouted up throughout the Eastern belt as a symbol of self-sufficiency. The brand, later renamed ‘LuxmiTea,’ produces 23 million kilos of tea each year.

The Swadeshi firm now employs over 50,000 people and operates 25 tea estates in Assam, Tripura, and Darjeeling in India, as well as Gisovu, Rugabano, and Pfunda in Rwanda.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented Queen Elizabeth with Silver Tips Imperial Tea from the company’s Makaibariplantations in West Bengal during his visit to Buckingham Palace in 2015.

The tea is distributed in a variety of countries, with substantial markets in England and Japan. Dipankar Chatterjee, Chatterjee’sson, took over the business in the 1980s. This was eventually taken over by Rudra, who provides insight into the booming tea farms as well as the underlying concepts that drive Luxmi Teas’ sales, customers, and quality.

Despite his primary goal to driving out colonisers, Chatterjeenever took his product for granted. 

Given that he had no other investment alternatives, he believed from the start that reinvesting his gains back into the tea gardens would increase quality.

One of the first things he bought was was a herd of elephants. However, this was hardly a great gesture or a declaration of the company’s expansion.

Rudra says his grandfather was well aware that elephants could transport you far within the plantations. Furthermore, the beautiful animal recognises inferior tea bushes and delicately removes them with its trunk without destroying the best bushes. This demonstrated his dedication to excellence, which has been a guiding concept for us ever since.

This emphasis on quality was reinforced when the family began investing in leaves throughout the Upper Assam area, as well as locations in Rwanda.

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