August 12th, 2011
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Career storm in a tea cup

 

 

Career Hunt/ Vivek Prasad

India being the world’s largest producer, exporter and consumer of tea, there is a wide scope for a lucrative career in this field. Though not a very well known profession, jobs in this area can be interesting for those who do not have any special skills.

For the uninitiated tea tasting is the process in which a trained taster will determine the quality of a particular tea. Due to climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different clones of the Camellia sinensis plant (tea), the final product will have vastly differing flavours and appearance.

In India, the most popular tea growing areas are Assam, Darjeeling and the Nilgiris. It is a known fact that several varieties of tea can be grown in one garden. As tea is a seasonal plant, the same leaves from the same bush, plucked in different seasons, have different bouquets. Each of these varieties require different ways of handling and a very agile manager who is abreast of the happenings at the tea estate.

Eligibility

Although it is an option that can be pursued by any tom dick and harry from any discipline, a degree in Agricultural Science or a BSc in Botany, Food Sciences, Horticulture or allied fields is preferred by institutes who coach students to become tea managers. Candidates who have specialised in business management or marketing are recruited for the much despised marketing jobs. New entrants are taken on as Assistants at the plantation level. After gaining experience and competence an assistant can get promoted to the level of Assistant Manager, and then Manager of a tea garden. Most assistants can expect to become managers in 20-25 years of service.

Skills Required

For those who are opting for a career in this field must have an interest and liking for the outdoor life. He or she must be physically fit, adaptable. One must also be knowledgeable about the tea market and should possess fair knowledge about the topography and geographical location of the tea estate. Tea tasters need to have keen taste buds and should keep their sensitivities clean.

 Job Prospects

Yawn! There are a variety of jobs one can specialize in a tea industry. The jobs put together is known as tea management. Tea tasting is a specialised area of work. Other areas are that of researchers, plantation managers, tea brokers and consultants.

An experienced tea planter can move into tea brokerage or tea tasting or take up a job in a tea broking house. Senior professionals can branch off into becoming consultants offering advice. Those academically inclined may get into research positions open at many tea plantations.

Plantation Managers: Tea gardens are controlled by Managers under whom there are Junior Assistants and Assistant Managers. Depending on the size and requirement of the garden, they assist them in the smooth functioning of the tea estate. Their work involves supervision of all plantation work involved from planting to plucking, processing to packing and transport of tea to auction houses. New entrants are taken on as Assistants at the plantation level. Experience is the deciding factor in the appointment of a manager.

Tea Taster: Tea tasting is a  specialised area. Tea tasters differentiate between the various flavours of tea and help to brand the varieties according to quality. Most tea companies employ tea tasters for ensuring quality standards, and preparing blends. Tea tasting is typically learnt on the job. Tea tasters have to develop the expertise to distinguish between the taste and aroma of different teas. They should keep their sensitivities clean and should keep smoking, drinking and intake of spicy foods in check.


The drawbacks can be damage to your digestive system especially at the peak season when you may have taste as many as 200 -300 cups of tea a day(which may result in even in death) and would also lead to stains on your teeth which has to be removed periodically,Tasters are recruited by manufacturing companies, brokers as well as buyers. In a manufacturing company, the taster is responsible for detecting defects in the production process by looking at the colour and size of the leaves to determine if they have been fermented or dried under fire and sends them back to the factory to rectify if needed.

One of the other responsibilities of tea tasters is that they have to coordinate with gardens, look after import and exports, advise researchers on commercial factors like taste, economic viability and maturability of tea.

Researcher: Research is an integral part of the industry. Much research is conducted by botanists, bio-technologists and other scientists, who study methods of producing disease-resistant, high yielding varieties of tea, as also strains that produce leaves that are natural blends of various teas. They receive advise from tea tasters on commercial factors like taste, economic viability and maturability of tea. The research associations as well as tea plantation owners employ researchers.

Tea Broker: Tea brokers act as intermediaries between the planter-producer and the buyer, and must be up-to-date with market trends and international prices.A background in tea industry and developing a keen tea tasting ability are important requisites in becoming a broker. At the auction centers, the tea samples are listed and evaluated by tea brokers. There are broking houses in the country where the brokers test the various samples of tea, which come from the different tea gardens.

Those planning to become brokers should be level headed (whatever that means) and disciplined and be able to strike a good rapport with producers and buyers.

Consultant: The tea board of India and various tea associations employ consultants.Experienced tea planters can take up consultancy services preferring advice on the varieties of tea to be planted, new varieties and their sources, recruitment and training of personnel, compensation, benefits and incentives to labour and so on. These tea planters also co-ordinate with tea tasters to ensure that the tea being packed for retail purposes is fresh.

Remuneration

Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000  annually is the starting when one joins as assistant manager and then this goes up as you reach the senior manager or general manager levels.

However, long spells of loneliness are a common occurrence and many have turned into psychopaths and saddists as a result.

Despite the drawback, many jobless youngsters are coming into the profession as a last resort.

At the very beginning of the career, trainees get an average, Rs 5,000 while senior professionals draw Rs 10,000 per month.

 

Where to study

Assam Agricultural University

Jorhat, Assam

http://www.aau.ac.in/

Indian Institute of Plantation Management
Jnana Bharathi Campus, P.O.Malathalli, Bangalore 560 056
Ph: 91-80-23211716 (EPABX); Fax: 91-80-23212775

info@iipmb.educ.in

Dipras Institute of Professional Studies

23/28 Gariahat Road,Kolkata-700029

Phone : 033-24600743/ 65458717

NITM, Darjeeling Tea Research and Management Association
P.O Kadamtala-734433, Dist. Darjeeling, West Bengal
Phone : 0353-2581582, Fax : 0353-2581593

Assam Darjeeling Tea Research Centre,
Kurseong, Darjeeling-734203(West Bengal)

UPASI Tea Research Institute,
Nirar Dam BPO, Valparai-642127 (Tamil Nadu)

Birla Institute of Futuristic Studies,
17A Darga Road, Park Circus, Kolkata-700017

The Tea Tasters Academy,
Coonoor, Nilgiris (Kerala)



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