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A Metting with Mr. Kavi Seth, Industry Professional

Mr. Kavi Seth is the head taster for J. Thomas, India's most important tea broker in Kolkata.

How long have you been working in the tea industry?
I began working in the tea industry in August 1985.

What brought you to this line of work?
In the beginning, when I was finishing my studies at the college of New Delhi, I knew nothing about the workings of the tea market. However, one of my uncles was a general manager with J. Thomas & Company Private Limited, and he invited me to join the company.

What are your everyday responsibilities?
The work of a taster may appear monotonous, but it is up to each of us to make it interesting. We must taste and evaluate the teas, attend the auctions, collect information about the market and interact with the buyers and sellers.

What do you like best about your profession?
The auctions! Even if it is sometimes mentally and physically exhausting. Also, the fact that every tea is different, especially the Darjeeling teas. There can be an enormous price difference between the batches.

What challenges will the Indian tea industry need to meet in the yeans to come?
Over the past few years, the tea industry has experienced a steep drop in prices because of inflation in the Indian economy. Fortunately, 2008 was a good year and prices reached record highs. The major challenge for our industry is to reestablish a strong presence on the export market, which has been declining for several years now.

What is your favorite tea?
A second harvest from Darjeeling, for its unique muscat grape characteristic.

How would you define a good tea?
For me, not only does a good tea look good, it tastes good and can be kept for a long time.