Iran is believed to be the nation of heavy tea drinkers. It is said by some historians that the tea culture started in Iran in 15th Century. The Tea was shipped to Iran by the silk route from China.
Over the years the demand started growing, hence Iran had to import tea in volumes and the business of Tea started establishing as an organised trade. Iran has also made attempts to cultivate Tea by taking the seeds from India.
Today, there are Tea plantations in Iran producing orthodox Tea. The characterstics of Tea grown in Iran are very different from the Tea grown in India, sri Lanka or china. The colour is red and there is a light taste.
Despite domestic production, major demand of tea in Iran is fulfilled with imports.
Tea trade statistics of Iran are as follows:
- Iran imported tea worth $292 Millions in 2018 ( Source: ITC trade data 2018) The import of tea has seen a year on year growth of 4% in value and 5% in volume from 2014 to 2018
- India is the largest tea supplying nation to Iran with supplies worth $130.8 Millions. Tea export from India to Iran has seen a growth of 19% in FY 2017-18. ( Source: ITC trade data 2018)
- Sri lanka is the second largest supplier of tea to Iran supplying Tea worth $72.71 Millions which is 24.9% of Irans total Tea imports ( Source: ITC trade data 2018)
- United Arab Emirates ( UAE) is the third largest supplier to Iran supplying tea worth $62.58 Millions which is 21.4% of Irans total import of tea. ( Source: ITC trade data 2018)
- The Tea supplied from UAE to Iran is mostly the tea from India, Kenya, Sri lanka and other Tea producing nations which is processed/ blended with some value additions and supplied to Iran.
- With development of Chabahar port with investment from Indian government, India and Iran are in the MoU for Indian industrial investment in Chabahar Special Economic Zone.
- Because of the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran, Trade with Iran is not easily permitted to many nations. India has special permissions to trade with Iran, hence Indian suppliers are consistently supplying quality teas to Iranian buyers. This trade uses Indian Rupees ( INR) as the trade currency, whereas the trade of Iran with Sri lanka or other African countries is in USD with lots of limitations imposed by United Nations
- As per Tea Board of India, Iran is an established market for pure high-grade orthodox teas, tea gardens in southern India have signed deals with Iranian buyers for producing the teas as per their requirement. Hence Tea export from India to Iran is on the rise and is touching new highs.
- With proper banking channel established for the trade, the Indian Tea Association ( ITA) is estimating the India Iran tea trade to grow by 15-20%.
Hence Iran is a market with very high potential for Indian tea suppliers because of the favourable terms of the trade.