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Korakundah Tea Estate

Of all the high-grown teas in the world, one of the highest is Korakundah Tea.

At an average elevation of 2500 metres above mean sea level, Korakundah Tea Estate situated in the Nilgiri ‘Blue Mountains’ in South India, produces teas with distinctive flavours that reflect the local geography as well as the special cultivation processes.

Pristine streams and virgin forests surround the estate, which almost crowns the Nilgiri ranges. A buffer area of reserve forest effectively acts as an ‘exclusion zone’ so that the teas are grown in an atmosphere that is clean and absolutely pollution-free. A distinctive feature on Korakundah is ‘shelter-belts’ of trees that help protect the tea bushes from frost, which at this altitude is a climatic occurrence; this also means that Korakundah has more shade trees than normally seen on a tea estate.

Korakundah was initially opened up in 1930 and is now rated as one of the premier organic tea estates in India, carrying out the plantation and manufacture of orthodox black and green teas. The estate has converted to organic processes since 1994 and is the first tea estate in South India to be ‘certified organic’. The entire estate is 100% organic with only natural cultivation methods in use; organic manure and neem-based pesticides ensure that the tea is totally free of harmful pesticide residues and inorganic salts which result from the use of chemical and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Vermiculture, nature’s own way of soil enrichment, is used extensively. Earthworms have a beneficial effect on plant growth by aerating the soil, promoting drainage and drawing organic material into their burrows where it decomposes faster, thus producing more nutritive materials for growing plants.

To supplement the compost content of the manure, a dairy farm with 150 head of cattle is maintained on the estate.

Teas are processed at the company-owned tea factory located in the Korakundah estate. This factory produces primarily orthodox and green teas, including orthodox decaffeinated tea, oolong and other specialty teas. The teas are packed in eco-friendly multi-walled paper sacks.

The teas are 100% pesticide free as per EU and German standards. Korakundah Estate is certified organic by Institute of Marketecology, Switzerland, conforming to NOP of USDA and is also ‘Kosher’ certified. The estate is a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Germany (IFOAM).

Organic tea production is not easy. It needs a large dedicated workforce willing to work in a remote, mountainous region prone to wind and chill round the year.

Korakundah takes good care of its workers who are provided amenities such as free housing, medical and educational facilities with well-equipped crèches for small children. Happily, the organic cultivation processes have also had a beneficial effect on the health of farm workers, who have less need for medical services than earlier. At Korakundah, there are categorically no employees below the age of 18 years.

Korakundah is thus the first amongst south Indian tea companies to be on the list of approved tea sources of TransFair International. As per their testimonial: “…when TransFair started to think about extending its scheme to tea, Korakundah had to be one of the first addresses to be thought of. Not so much because Korakundah needed the help of TransFair, but rather as a place where TransFair could take lessons from and show it as an example to other tea producers…”

Korakundah Tea Estate is a unit of the United Nilgiri Tea Estates Co. Ltd., which is the first tea company in the Nilgiris to acquire the ISO 9002 certification. Korakundah has an established Environmental Management System that monitors the impact of the company’s activities on the Environment. This has now been recognized and acknowledged by BVQI, the international certifying agency, who have, on the 14th of May 2004, accorded Korakundah the ISO 14001:1996 for the “ Plantation, Manufacture, and supply of Organically grown orthodox black tea and green tea”

Contact: The United Nilgiri Tea Estates Company Limited, Chamraj Estate Post, The Nilgiris 643 204. Phone: 91-423-2258737 Fax: 91-423-2258837 E-mail: chamraj@vsnl.com
Visit: www.korakundahtea.com

- PENSCAPE

 
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