For Bengalis, the first thing that comes to mind after waking up early in the morning is the thought that they will get to smell and taste one of the most aromatic drinks in the world. Yes, we are talking about tea!
Most people here start their day with a cup of tea. To quench the thirst of this national drink, the tea industry here in Bangladesh has reached quite the height. Some of the biggest tea companies are not only dealing with the demand nationally but are also exporting it internationally. The tea industry in Bangladesh dates back to the British period. And since then, tea has become an integral part of Bangladeshi culture.
In Bangladesh, tea cultivation first started near the Chittagong Club in the 1840s. And Malnicherra in Sylhet is the first tea garden of Bangladesh which was established in 1854 and began commercial production in 1857. Now, there are several tea companies in Bangladesh that have become prolific through the production of the finest tea leafs. They are:
The Ispahanis have been doing business in South Asia since 1820. Mirza Mohammed Ispahani established the Calcutta office of M.M. Ispahani & Sons in 1900. In 1947, the corporate head office was moved to Chittagong, where it stands today. Till date it is one of the largest & oldest tea companies in Bangladesh. Currently, about 80% of the tea bag market is in the grasp of Ispahani. Along with regular tea, Ispahani also makes Green Tea and Black Tea for their famous line up.
Moreover, Ispahani also has a strong influence in the sponsoring game as well, as they have sponsored the National Cricket League and many other sports competitions. Along with tea, the Ishpahani group also owns many other major food brands in the country.
Finlay is one of the oldest tea companies in Bangladesh and it dates back to 1882 when the company began its journey during the British period. Their main office is situated in Agrabad, Chittagong. Initially, the company was owned by James Finlay Ltd. But then James Finlay Ltd. sold the company, factories, and its tea estates that are located in Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts to Bangladeshi entrepreneurs. However, James Finlay Ltd. retained the “Finlay Tea” brand name.
Now, Finlay Tea is produced by two companies – The Consolidated Tea and Lands Company (Bangladesh) Limited and Baraoora (Sylhet) Tea Company Limited. Along with regular tea products, Finlay also produces some unique tea flavours such as Masala Cha and Shinrai Japanese Green tea. Though Finlay does not have a strong foothold in the sponsoring sector, they did participate in some domestic sport events.
3. Kazi & Kazi Tea
Interestingly enough, Kazi & Kazi tea is the only organic tea growing company in Bangladesh. They are also internationally certified as organic tea growers. Kazi & Kazi started their journey in 2000, and their garden is located in Tetulia, in the northernmost district of Panchagarh. The company was founded by Kazi Shahid Ahmed, Chairman of Gemcon Group, who’s main goal was to improve the lives of the people working in tea fields.
And his inspiration for producing organic tea came from the rising demand of healthy high-quality tea for both the local and international market. Their top selling products are Green Tea and Black Tea. Moreover, they also produce Tulsi Tea, Turmeric Infusion Tea, Green Lemongrass Tea, and so on.
HRC is one of the most popular tea companies in Bangladesh. And they have been in business since 1991. The Government of Bangladesh has granted “CIP” status to HRC for its export achievements in 1991/1992. As a matter of fact, HRC has been exporting their tea products to various countries such as Russia , Poland, and Pakistan to name a few. Moreover, the brand has won eleven awards for its export endeavors which include 9 Gold and 2 Silver trophies. Rather than developing different flavours , HRC mainly focuses on the different blends of the tea , right now they have about 13 different blends of tea in a variety of sizes.
5. Tetley ACI
Tetley ACI Bangladesh Ltd. (TABL) is a joint venture initiative of Tata Global Beverages and ACI Limited. The company has been operating in Bangladesh since 2003 and have been serving the people of the country with premium quality tea for almost two decades. Moreover, Tata Global Beverages is the second largest tea company in the world and the brand is on the path to become the market leader of the natural beverages industry.
Their headquarters is situated in Kawranbazar in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where they have their own company building called HRC Bhaban. Apart from producing regular tea, Tetley also brings in some unique products such as Lemon & Honey tea, Herbal Camomile, etc.
6. National Tea Company
National Tea Company Ltd. (NTCL) was formed in 1978 as a joint venture of the Government of Bangladesh and the General Public, which makes it the first public tea company in the country. The company’s shares are being traded at both the Dhaka and Chittagong Stock Exchanges since its inception. They have about 12 A-class tea estates all across Sylhet, Bangladesh, with a total area of approximately 10,000 hectare. There are about 12,500 permanent laborers in the company’s Tea Estates, mostly from ethnic groups, whose welfare is ensured by the NTCL.
This includes free medical facilities, housing facilities, pure drinking water, modern sanitary facilities, and subsidized food. Apart from tea, NTCL is also active in manufacturing rubber. The primary function of company is to plant, cultivate, manufacture, and sell tea and rubber products. It has been estimated that the company’s annual average production is somewhere around 5.2 million kg and a major portion of its tea products are sold via the Chittagong Auction Market.
7. Duncan Brothers (Bangladesh) Ltd.
Walter & William are the two Duncan brothers who came from Glasgow about 150 years ago, and formed their business in Calcutta in 1859. The tea industry was booming at the time, which is why they shifted from their cotton business to tea, and it eventually became their primary venture. Duncan Brothers produces 12-13 million kgs of tea annually from 9,100 hectares of land, which mainly comes from its 16 tea gardens. The organization has a diverse portfolio of products which include rubber, mineral water, and of course – tea. There are approximately 18,500 employees that work for the brand in its various business verticals.
Seylon Tea was introduced in the market in 2004 and it is under Abul Khair consumer goods. Within a decade, it has successfully become one of the leading tea brands in Bangladesh. Moreover, Seylon was the first brand to launch Double Chamber stapleless tea bags in Bangladesh. Although the company does not make any flavoured tea, they do have 7 different blends of tea. And their head office is located in Pahartoli, Chittagong.
9. Jafflong Tea Company
Jafflong Tea Company Ltd was acquired by Orion Group in the year 2005. It is located at Jafflong under Gowainghat Upazilla, Sylhet. JTCL is the only Flat Land tea estate in the NorthEast region of Bangladesh. They specialize in producing export quality Black Tea, which is then sent to the Chittagong tea auction. The production from their estate is increasing every year, and they are confident that production will reach 400,000 kg within a short period of time. The company also ensures welfare programs that offer free housing, healthcare, and other benefits for its labourers.
10. Fresh Tea
Fresh tea is a concern of Meghna Group of Industries (MGI). Along with the brand’s other food products, Fresh Tea is widely popular as well. Under their premium category, the company produces Fresh Premium tea, Fresh Premium Green tea, and Fresh Premium Masala tea. Their head office is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh. MGI is one of the biggest brands in Bangladesh, thus it leaves no doubt why their tea is also beloved.
- Wrapping Up
It’s no surprise that the tea industry is booming in Bangladesh since there is a massive consumer base for this beverage around the country. Furthermore, Bangladesh is exporting tea worldwide, which brings in a large chunk of revenue. Thus, it can deduced that the tea industry is sustainable in the country as there will always be a demand for it both locally and internationally.