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Sri Lanka to commercialise tea wine manufacturing process

Sri Lanka will be starting commercial production of tea wine which had been invented and introduced by local tea sector scientists.  

The Tea Research Institute (TRI) has called for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from interested companies to commercialise the process of manufacturing tea wine.

TRI has successfully conducted pilot-scale manufacturing of tea wine, which is a unique and patented process based on traditional wine fermentation methods, producing a ‘dry red wine’ containing 12 percent  alcohol.

It is rich in its unique taste with medium body and soft tannings carrying pronounced tea aroma with the sweet smell of delicate black BOP.

A unique and patented process for making tea wine, based on traditional wine-fermentation methods. 

The process utilizes a specific Sri Lankan tea variety and special aging techniques to produce a tea wine with unique flavor and aroma profiles. 

While this unique tea wine has received positive reviews by consumers and wine-specialists, its most valuable attribute may be its opening up of the potential for novel Sri Lankan tea-based fermented beverages.

 In this pilot effort, the tea wine exhibits a unique taste, aroma and stability in storage. 

This particular fermented tea is made with tender leaves of Dimbulla black, involves chaptalization, use of Saccharomyces bayanus, and aged in Halmilla (Beralia cordifolia) casks. 

The patented process has established a platform for producing a variety of unique tea beverages through many potential variations including tea variety, fermentation method, and aging.

 While fermentation of tea leaves is a traditional method of producing certain types of dry tea leaves, methods of producing fermented tea beverages are not as common.

 However, the low alcohol, fermented-tea beverage kombucha has become very popular in the U.S. and other countries. 

The U.S. kombucha market is currently over $1billion and is predicted to reach $3.8 billion by 2023. Similar types of fermented tea beverages are also seeing significant growth.

 Fermented teas of varying alcohol contents, and flavors are a hotbed of innovation and market growth.

 The Tea Research Institute is interested in partnering with industrial innovators, in and outside of the tea industry to commercialize this technology and to develop other novel fermented tea beverages.

 The Tea Research Institute will consider trademarks and Geographical Indication (GI) protection for certain fermented tea products it develops with private-sector partners. 

Pilot scale tea wine production (approximately 50 L per batch) successfully conducted. Types of deals sought: Non-exclusive licenses, regional and field of use exclusive licenses would be considered. TRI is seeking commercial allies in tea and beverage manufacturing, distribution and sales, other food innovators.

We would like to now elevate our product from its current pilot scale to a more commercial level with a royalty to the institution,” TRI Manager – Technology Transfer Office Dr. M.A.B. Ranatunga said. 

He also said that TRI expects to expand the existing product and procedure with the prospective company, and the capacity to undertake R&D activities would be an advantage in the evaluation of EOIs.

TRI will grant a non-exclusive or exclusive licence to a company or companies, a royalty-bearing right and licence to use and practice the technology and process (‘licensed technology’) to manufacture, sell and commercialise the product during the term of the agreement (‘licence’). 

It will bear the right to choose the basis of agreement to be executed as ‘Non-Exclusive’ or ‘Exclusive’ and the decision shall be taken upon negotiations during the preliminary discussion with the shortlisted firms.

Dr. Ranatunga also pointed out that the TRI had already spoken to the Excise Department to assist the prospective company to obtain the production licence.

“TRI already got a number of inquiries regarding the project,” he said, adding that the deadline for prospective firms to apply is 30 January

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