Welcome to the Guwahati Tea Auction Center’s Tea Lounge of Assam

Guwahati (Assam), India – The heady concoctions brewed at this bar in Assam assails the senses and gives one an instant high as one steps into its precincts.

As the aroma of the different flavors wafts through the air, one is tempted to take a sip of this strong liquor, which knocks a punch in the gut, envelopes you in its warmth and elevates you to an energy crest.

Welcome to the Tea Lounge of Assam.

Guwahati Tea Auction Center - GTAC
(Photo: Courtesy of Guwahati Tea Auction Center - GTAC)

Three years ago, the tea lounge at the Guwahati Tea Auction Center (GTAC) – one of the busiest auction centers in the world – opened its doors to connoisseurs and the masses alike in a bid to promote tourism and popularize tea.

Today, the lounge, popularly called the chai bar (chai means tea in India) is doing brisk business and attracting tourists and locals who throng the place, where some say “the best cup of Assam tea” is served.“

This is one of the finest tea lounges in India where everyone can enjoy a sip of the best quality teas from Assam,” shared Dinesh Bihani, chairman of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre Tea Lounge Trust, which runs the facility. There are eight members in the Trust.

With an interior that's perfect to entice tea lovers to savor a refreshing cup, the lounge has facilities such as free Wi-Fi, books on tea and tourism, and gift hampers. The bar's best-selling varieties are Yellow Tea, White Tea, Oolong Tea, Purple Tea and Silver Needles Tea, which ranges from 50 rupees a cup (or U.S. 60 cents) to 2500 rupees a pot (around U.S. $32). One may pair it with piping hot samosas or chicken cutlet as snacks.

Guwahati Tea Auction Center GTAC
(Photo: Courtesy of Guwahati Tea Auction Center - GTAC)

Bihani said that the lounge sells only single estate origin teas made by tea producers of Assam. “Teas produced from Camellia sinensis are only allowed to be sold in the lounge,” he noted.

Bihani explained that the Guwahati Tea Auction Center lounge is a one-stop destination to buy garden fresh and authentic Assam tea, where one can also have a sip of the tea they are buying.

There are two sections in the lounge – one section has a 40-seat capacity, where one can drink different varieties of tea – CTC, Orthodox, Certified Organic etc. The second section displays varieties of Assam tea for interested buyers.

This tea lounge is promoted by all the stakeholders of Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, along with Tea Board of India, Assam Tourism, North Eastern Council (NEC) and Industries and Commerce Department of the government of Assam.

Bihani said that many tourists who come to Assam are duped while wanting to buy Assam tea. “Assam tea is a brand name but getting a good cup of Assam tea for visitors was extremely difficult. The tea lounge has solved this problem. Now tourists can buy the best single estate origin, garden fresh teas from the tea lounge,” the chairman said.

Guwahati Tea Auction Center - GTAC India
Dinesh Bihani, chairman of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre Tea Lounge Trust (Photo: Courtesy of Guwahati Tea Auction Center - GTAC)

Blended teas are not allowed to be sold in the lounge, and there are 40 varieties of Assam teas that are currently available at the tea lounge.

Another member of the Trust said that the tea lounge has managed to play a vital role in promoting and popularizing Assam Team while helping to create a habit of tea drinking among the younger generation. He said that many dignitaries who have visited the lounge so far are fully satisfied with the entire ambiance.

“The former British Deputy High Commissioner Bruce Bucknell, who had visited the facility, was impressed,” Bihani said.

Former Chairman of Assam Tea Planters Association, Raj Barooah, who is a regular visitor to the lounge, said that the tea lounge at GTAC is the perfect place to promote Assam tea. “Many more such facility should come up to promote single estate Assam tea,” he said.

Barooah also noted that many tea estates – which are producing quality tea in Assam – are getting all the attention after the tea lounge at GTAC was set up.

Barooah, who is a renowned tea planter, also said the ambiance at the lounge is classy and that he holds most of his meetings at the lounge.

Another tea planter who’s producing quality tea said that it was because of the tea lounge at GTAC that his garden is becoming popular. “People now are getting to know that my garden produces quality tea,” he revealed, noting that that previously buyers would procure tea produced in his garden from the auction center and blend it with poor quality tea before sending it to the market. “Now, I have a platform in the form of the tea lounge to display my teas,” he said.

Connect with the GTAC Tea Lounge on Facebook here.

Pullock Dutta – based in Assam, near the Tocklai Tea Research Institute – is a freelance journalist, contributor to World Tea News, and a previous special correspondent of the Telegraph in India for more than two decades.

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