Tea Broker Prices in Sri Lanka
Tea brokers are the main custodians of the Colombo tea auction. They connect the tea producers to the tea buyers via their “brokering”. Some also provide advisory services as well as financing and warehousing. Tea sampling is one of the main tasks entrusted to a tea broker or a tea broker firm.
Brokers receive tea samples prior to the auction. They then evaluate the samples of Ceylon black tea, or any other variety to assess the taste, aroma, strength and various other qualities.
Based on these criteria a price is decided for each sample. These prices are “cried out” at the tea auction and the party with the best price offer wins that specific tea lot.
Since the tea brokers associate the tea buyers on a regular manner, they get an inkling of what sort of changes are wished in the tea they buy. The brokers are tasked with interpreting the subtle changes of buying patterns and communicating what is signified by them, along with the deviations requested, to the tea producers.
The highest price fetched by tea for the year 2020 was in May, when a kilo was sold at Rs. 697.58. Typically prices fluctuate between Rs. 400.00 – Rs. 700.00 a kilo of tea. This, of course, depends upon the region of tea growth and the resultant quality.
In 2020, high-grown tea hit the average highest price at around Rs. 655.00. This was in April 2020. For medium grown teas it was Rs. 615.00, in the same month. The low grown teas hit an average of Rs. 744.00 in May 2020. If tea from all elevations are analysed, the highest average price was the Rs. 697.58 in May. In 2021, up to February, the average highest price is Rs. 648.34.
Tea leaves are crushed to prepare the loose tea leaves which are used for brewing to prepare a tea. This crushed tea is referred to as “broken” tea, hence one of the well-known tea varieties in the market is BOP, or Broken Orange Pekoe tea. Ceylon black tea is mainly categorised as BOP, BOPF (stands for BOP Fanning’s, further broken tea leaves), “Dust” (the smaller grade tea, goes for lower prices usually), BOP1, FBOP (Flowery BOP, consists of bigger particles in size and some tips or unopened young leaves), “Pekoe” tea (coarse and twisted leaves), OP or Orange Pekoe which is further divided into OP1, OPA etc. OPA is one of the good quality teas with larger pieces.
Another type of tea is the “CTC”, or Cut, Tear, Curl tea. Tea grades such as “BPS”, Broken Pekoe Special which includes curled, even tea leaf particles and other associated grades namely, BP1, Broken Pekoe, a tea slightly smaller than the BPS tea, Broken Pekoe Leaf or BPL, PF1 - Pekoe Fanning’s 1 with smaller pieces than BP1 variety and PD “Pekoe Dust” which consists of smaller particles than all the former ones are all CTC tea variations.
“White tea” are the unopened tea buds, which are actually younger leaves and not flower buds. White tea includes “silver tips” and “golden tips” grades. Green tea has a different classification and more technical terms – Gun Powder tea, Sencha tea- tiny, needle-shaped tea leaves etc. - under it. Apart from these classifications, tea is also categorised as low grown, mid-grown and high grown tea.
Tea brokers’ prices change for each of these varieties depending mainly on the quality aspects of the tea.