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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Tea Provides Nearly 90% of Flavonoid
Antioxidants in U.S. Diet

United States - Not only is tea refreshing and soothing, new research suggests that it may be a major contributor of health-promoting nutrients in the U.S. diet. At The Second International Conference on Polyphenols and Health, held at the University of California, in Davis, scientists reported that tea provides more flavonoids to the average American diet than any other food or beverage in the U.S.

Using data from the national nutrition monitoring surveys that represent the U.S. population, researchers from Exponent, a scientific research firm, calculated an average per capita flavonoid intake by U.S. consumers of approximately 134.0-mg/day.

While there is no current recommended dietary intake for flavonoids, clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of 600 to 1000-mg of flavonoids (3-4 cups of tea) are associated with potential health benefits and fit as part of a healthy diet. Flavonoids are a major class of dietary phytonutrients, found predominately in fruits, vegetables, tea, cocoa and wine. They have been shown to be potent antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals. There is also mounting evidence that the phytonutrients in tea stimulate the immune system and help maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bolivian Coffee Wows International Jury at Cup of Excellence Competition

United States - Making up for a small crop and internal conflicts that have plagued Bolivian coffee this year, 19 farmers were awarded the Cup of Excellence Award at a ceremony held in October, in Santa Cruz, California. Six of the coffees received the prestigious presidential award, which indicates a score of 90 points or more on the last day of ranking.

“Presidential awards are extremely difficult to attain,” explained Susie Spindler, managing director of The Cup of Excellence program. “To have an international group of professional cuppers from different parts of the world all score this many coffees in the 90 point range is very rare and knowing that these great coffee exist is the reason the jurors will keep coming back to find them.”

Juan de Dios Blanco, the winning farmer, scored 93.52 points out of 100 on his coffee, which was described by the jury as being very clean and delicately complex with an orange-honeysuckle aroma and a tangy lemon flavor. Close behind at 93.10 points, the second place coffee was described as a darker chocolate and black cherry, with a great aftertaste, silky mouthfeel and intense sweetness. The second place coffee was submitted by farmers Celso Mayta, Eusebio Marca and Lucio Camiño, who will all share the award and auction proceeds.

Tea Brand Gets Bureau’s Quality Mark

Kenya - The Nation (Nairobi) reported that Kenyan tea has advanced towards international recognition following the accreditation of a local brand with the Diamond Quality Assurance mark.

The accreditation of the Kenya Tea Packers’ (Ketepa’s) brand by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) means that the company’s brands have achieved the highest peak of recognition and would now be free to compete for other international accreditations. The Ketepa brand intends on having the internationally acclaimed ISO certification by March of next year, said Tim Chege, the company’s managing director.

The move was part of the company’s commitment towards quality assured products, which can compete in international markets. It means that the Ketepa brand will now bear the diamond-shaped KBS mark on the packaging.

The move is aimed at distinguishing the company’s genuine tea products from an assortment of counterfeit products that have flooded the local market. It assures consumers that all the processes involved in the production, packaging and marketing adhere to set standards.

“We have embraced local standardization of our products as a step to international standards,” said Chege. He added, “We have started the journey and it won’t be a long one.”

Rehabilitation of Coffee Plantations Depends on Government

Angola - According to an Angola press agency, projects that are set to rehabilitate coffee plantations can start as soon as the Angolan government confirms that it will provide the $3 million that initially should have been given by the European Union, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development consultant, Vick Mateso said.

According to the source, the Angolan government recently became more engaged about the urgency of the referred project during the Second World Coffee Conference, held recently in Brazil, whose implementation, Mateso said, also depends on the signing of financial agreements between the Common Fund for Basic Products and the Angolan government.

A consultant on the matter said that he is convinced that the Angolan government will sign the agreement, since the project will contribute to the stability of rural populations in the zones where the project is to be implemented. It is also aimed at reducing poverty and later increasing the income in foreign currencies.

The Angolan coffee growing rehabilitation project was approved by the Common Fund for Basic Product in 2000, having the country benefited with $8 million U.S. dollars.

The financing is part of the conclusions of the 93rd Session of the International Coffee Council, organized this year in London.

Tea Export Turnover Down 20% in 10 Months

Vietnam - Vietnam exported around 60,000 tons of tea, earning more than $65 million in the first 10 months of this year, down 20% according to the Vietnam Tea Association (Vitas).

The decline was attributed to the fact that domestic production did not meet export demand, said Nguyen Van Thu, the Vietnam Tea Association’s vice chairman.

Van Thu said that the lack of material was due to inconvenient weather and prolonged drought. In addition, many growers harvested tea using incorrect technical processes, causing decreases in output and in quality of the tea.

This year’s tea output is estimated to fall 20% as compared with the set target.

To reach its export target in 2005, the tea sector has recommended to its affiliates to ensure sufficient tea supplies to meet export demand during the New Year holidays.

Williamson Tea Assam to Merge with McLeod Russel

India - Williamson Tea Assam Limited is set to merge with McLeod Russel India Limited, reports the Press Trust of India. Both companies are part of the Williamson Magor Group, and when combined will form the largest bulk tea manufacturer in the country.

Vice-chairman of McLeod Russel, Deepak Khaitan told reporters that the boards of both companies have approved the merge, adding that Price Waterhouse Coopers and I-Sec have been appointed as merchant bankers to carry out the valuation exercise and to ascert the swap ratio.

Khaitan said that the merger would be effective at the beginning of April. He also said that upon this, McLeod Russel would become the single largest producer of bulk tea in India with 62 million kilograms per annum, adding that the company would be controlling 15% of Assam’s total crop and 50% of Assam’s exports of quality tea.

Earlier, McLeod Russel had taken over George Williamson (Assam) Limited, after which the name had been changed to Williamson Tea Assam Limited.

Tea & Coffee - December/January, 2006

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