Ever wondered where the tea leaves used to brew your favourite cuppa come from?
To find out more about each tea type, visit this link : http://ttr.com.my/tea-types/
Do read on for an overview on the processes involved in creating black teas such as :
The following pictures are taken from my recent visit to the Glenloch Tea Factory & the Mackwoods-Labookelie Tea Estate in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. ( unless noted otherwise )
THE JOURNEY OF THE TEA LEAF :
The evergreen tropical plant Camellia Sinensis requires humidity and warmth to grow. The quality and quantity of leaves produced by a tea tree is dependent on altitude, soil and climate.
The Yunan province in China, where our Imperial Bliss Pu-erh tea comes from is said to be the original source of the tea plant and is home to some of the largest and oldest tea trees in the world. Tea plants will grow into a tree of up to 16 meters if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking.
Tea can grow from sea level up to an altitude of 2.7km with ideal humidity levels of 80% and ideal temperatures of 15-20 degrees Celcius. The top 5 tea producing countries as of 2011, are China, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
Hand picking as opposed to machines are best due to the delicacy and precision required for quality picks. The tea pickers pluck the fresh growth of two leaves and a bud allowing new growth within a fortnight.
According to Seetha, a tea picker at Glenloch, she and her fellow tea pickers pluck at least 20 kilograms of tea leaves per day.
Immediately after the leaves are plucked, they go through the withering stage. This stage of the process allows the leaves to reduce their moisture levels and kick-starts the chemical reactions which will determine the quality of the tea.
The rolling process gently breaks and bruises the leaves to release enzymes from within the leaves. The chemical reactions from these enzymes will enhance the oxidation process which takes place during the fermentation stage.
After the leaves are rolled they are broken and sifted. The smaller leaves are sent for fermentation, and the remaining pieces are put through the rolling process again.
The tea leaves are placed in a controlled environment with a humid atmosphere allowing the leaves to oxidise . The duration of exposure to oxygen affects the degree of fermentation, resulting in darkened leaves.
Unlike our usual black teas which are fermented via oxidation through the natural tea leaf enzymes, the ripe Pu-erh tea in our Imperial Bliss blend, undergoes microbial fermentation that involves mould, bacteria and yeast in the oxisidisation process.
The leaves are dried with hot air. This deactivates the enzymes within the leaves and stops further oxidation/fermentation. The flavour, aroma and character of a good brew is set during this process, making it a crucial one.
The dried tea leaves are sorted and graded generally by size and shape. There are Whole Leaf grades (Orange Pekoes) and Broken Leaf Grades. Our Ceylon Breakfast blend features a Broken Orange Pekoe tea from Sri Lanka’s Uva region.
10. TASTING & AUCTIONS
The various grades produced by the tea estate are tasted by professional tasters. These teas are then auctioned. The Colombo Tea Auction is the single largest tea auction in the world. Auctions are held every Tuesday and Wednesday,except during the New Year and at Christmas period. Appoximately 6.5 million kilograms of tea are sold weekly at this auction. Note : A cup of tea is usually brewed using 2.5 grams of tea.
The tea leaves are blended at this stage in to create many delightful infusions. For example, our Sapphire Grey is a blend of Sri Lankan and Chinese black teas with blue corn flowers, and bergamot oil.
At The Tea Republic, the various blends of teas are then packed into Tea Pyramids and also Loose Leaf Canisters.
That’s all for now citeazens.
Quite a journey from the tea plant to the tea cup isn’t it?
Try a new blend of tea today from our online store. Celebrate the citeazen within !