Kolkata: Amidst concerns that cheap imported tea is being mixed with premium orthodox varieties in India, Tea Board has ordered that no registered buyer should blend such imports with the Indian crop.

Deputy chairman of Tea Board K N Raghavan said in the order that failure to comply with the directive will invite action, which might also lead to cancellation of licence.

The board said that teas of Darjeeling, Kangra, Assam (orthodox) and Nilgiri (orthodox) are reputed Geographical Indications (GI) registered under the GI Act of 1999, and enjoy considerable reputation worldwide for their qualities.

The order also said it had come to the notice of the Tea Board that imported teas of inferior quality are being blended with Indian orthodox varieties, causing irreparable damage to the reputation of the produce of Indian origin.

In a separate order, the board had also directed that no distributor shall carry out the business of selling imported tea and no exporter shall export tea except under a licence obtained from the board.

According to the board, inferior quality tea are being imported and distributed in the Indian market which has the potential to affect the health of the domestic consumers.

It also directed the laboratories to clearly indicate the contents of the blended tea, giving the source of origin of the imported tea.

The apex body of tea planters India Tea Association (ITA) had already flagged the issue with the commerce ministry as imports of Nepalese tea are rising and is being passed off as Darjeeling tea.

The Tea Board had earlier said that imports from Nepal cannot be banned and imported at zero duty.

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