There are hardly any awards for tea makers domestically to showcase their craft and give us a way to discover new teas. But those held abroad show us what a fantastic job our tea makers have done in a year that saw weather, production and prices stacked against them. On this list are old favourites but also new teas—quite a few are available online.
The Leafies, offered by the UK Tea Academy and the Fortnum & Mason store, were announced recently. A 12-member jury tasted 320 entries and two of our teas won Gold: the flavourful Tippy Reserve from Rujani Tea in Assam and a smooth spring white tea, Darjeeling Moonshine, from Glenburn in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The Highly Commended List includes a great set from India: Nilgiri Orchid, a well-rolled black tea (Tea Studio, Nilgiris); Doke Black Fusion, a black tea with rich aroma and flavours (Doke Tea Estate, Bihar); Basant Blossom, a superlative first flush black tea (Turzum, Darjeeling); Golden Tips, a second flush black tea with a red-gold liquor (Nahorhabi estate, Assam); a Masala Chai from Glenburn; and a black tea from the Mansimble estate in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, which seems to retail only in the UK.
In October, the 12th North American Tea Conference, organised by the Tea Association of the USA and the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada, awarded the Gold Medal Teas by country of origin. From India, the Goodricke Group’s Darjeeling Moonlight tea, a white tea from a company with storied estates, and Rossell Tea’s Assam Orthodox, won the first and second place, respectively. The Goodricke Group Ltd was also declared the overall winner.
The other big award is the World Tea Awards, announced at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, US, every year. In March, Jayshree Tea, with estates in Darjeeling, Assam and the Dooars (including the Turzum and Nahorhabi estates), was a finalist in the “most sustainably driven company” category. I think we can expect to see more in 2024 as the Expo has added the Devan Shah Tea Tycoons award for tea entrepreneurs and a World Tea Expo Beverage Challenge.
At home, The Golden Leaf India Award, instituted by the United Planters Association of South India, is awarded to teas from south India. The final round of this 18th edition took place at the Global Dubai Tea Forum in April, with an international jury selecting the winners from teas from the Nilgiris, Munnar, Wayanad, High Ranges, Anamallais, Travancore and Karnataka. The winners’ list is of companies, with the Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Ltd from Munnar topping with a record seven awards, followed by Harrisons Malayalam and Parry Agro.
In the pipeline are two more awards, Teas of the World, organised by France’s AVPA (Agence Pour La Valorisation Des Produits Agricoles), to be announced on 18 November, and the Golden Leaf Awards by the Australian Tea Masters (winners will be announced in January) where India, as it happens, is this year’s featured country.
Tea Nanny is a fortnightly series steeped in the world of tea. Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry. She posts @AravindaAnanth1 on Twitter.