Sri Lanka tea board says no to legal exports of ‘refuse’ tea

April 02, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Tea Board has turned down an appeal by export firms to ship tea below government stipulated standards, saying it no longer allowed such shipments. Tea board director-general H D Hemaratna said exports of sub-standard teas was a “serious matter” and the trade was concerned such shipments could tarnish the reputation of Ceylon tea.

Tea exports from Sri Lanka must be above a stipulated ISO 3720 standard, a criteria set to ensure that only teas that meet certain quality standards get on the world market.

Sri Lanka as a big tea exporting country has been campaigning to ensure producer countries only ship teas that meet such standards, to prevent a glut of low quality teas that could bring down prices.

Hemaratna said a few exporters had managed to get permission last year to export ‘refuse tea’ so called because they are considered below the accepted export quality standard.

“But we’ve stopped it now. They came and appealed at a meeting (last week) but we said we can’t consider it.”

Four exporters had got permission and exported more than a dozen consignments of such teas to China and India.

Exports of ‘refuse tea’ had