'Tea tasting requires years of experience'

After the partition of India, the first ever tea auction in Chattogram was held on 16 July 1949. Mayisha Rahman is the first woman tea auctioneer in the history of these 73 years. She shared details of this exceptional profession, challenges of running an auction and all with Prothom Alo.

Mayisha Rahman

Q :

There has been media reports of you being the first ever woman to run a tea auction. What reaction did you get?

Buyers involved with the auction of tea, knew it already. However many others learnt it after the news me was published.

I received a huge response. Plus, many including my friends and relatives and people involved with the tea sector are encouraging me.

Q :

What did your parents have to say?

It was my father’s dream that I remain involved with the tea sector. My father’s dream has been fulfilled. Both my parents are delighted. 

Q :

You’re a tea taster as well. Aren’t there any women in this profession now?

There was a tea taster in the Ispahani tea company but not anymore. And, I’m the sole woman in tea auctioning.

Q :

Did you ever face any problem in conducting the auction?

No. Many of my relatives including my father are involved in the tea sector. So, I never had to face any problems in this profession. Buyers or customers at the auction took it positively from the very beginning.

Q :

How tough is to run an auction?

Among seven broker companies, I run auction on behalf of Produce Brokers Limited. Depending on the quantity of tea, we get a window of half an hour to an hour.

A certain amount of tea has to be put up for auction within this time period. That’s the biggest challenge.

Q :

How do you check the quality of tea before putting it up for auction?

Grades (standard) have to be assigned to tea of different gardens before putting them up for auction.

The quality of tea is ascertained by keeping the brew inside the mouth for a bit. It takes years of experience. I’m still learning.

Q :

When did you start running auctions?

On 14 March last year. I took the auctioneer’s seat with my father that day.

Q :

That means both of you and your father ran the action side by side?

That’s right.

Q :

How long has your family been associated with the tea sector?

My grandfather late Mokhlesur Rahman began his career as the manager of Srimangal’s Nandarani tea garden in 1956.

And, my father Ahmedur Rahman started working as an apprentice tea tester at Chattogram’s Produce Brokers Limited in1981.

Q :

You studied English Literature, right?

Yes. After completing my studies, I joined Produced Brokers Limited as an apprentice. However, I’m doing a diploma on tea management.

Q :

You spend your days amid tea. How many cups of tea do you enjoy in a day?

Seven to eight cups at least. A steaming hot cup of tea is my favourite.

Q :

Why don’t women get involved in different professions related to the tea sector?

I reckon, women in our country don’t have a detailed understanding of the tea industry. They don’t know the whole process that revolves around tea starting from production to marketing.

May be that’s why they don’t wish to involve themselves in this profession. I hope that women will be interested in joining this industry in future.