The tea plantation

THE PLANT: The Camellia Sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub tree, is the first known tea plant. It prefers a warm and humid climate in altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters. The wild plant can reach heights of up to 15 meters. In the tea plantations however its height is being limited to 1.20 m in order to facilitate the processing.

THE LOCATION: The tea plant does not like to stand in water and is therefore growing on hillsides and slopes where the rain water can easily drain off. It does however need the regular rainfalls of the tropical climate.

THE BREEDING: Cuttings are the way to propagate tea plants. A small branch is taken from the parent plant and it takes 4 to 5 years for the seeding to be ready for the first harvesting.

THE CLIMATE: The seeding is growing and flourishing depending on the climate conditions of the region and often permits to harvest several times a year. In Japan for instance the tea is being picked four times a year, from spring to autumn. In Indonesia harvest is done all year long. In general harvesting is done by hand.

THE HARVEST: The buds and the leaves below the buds are the ones being collected. There are three different types of harvesting:

The imperial tea harvest (or standard harvest) means picking the bud and the first leave of the plant, the result being a tea of the highest quality.

The fine tea harvest (or medium harvest) means picking the bud as well as the first and the second leave.

The average tea harvest (or raw harvest) allows collecting three to four leaves next to the bud resulting in a tea of the lowest quality.

Consistence and quality

The quality of the tea not only depends on a proper harvesting but is also deeply influenced by the processing that follows. Will the leaves be used as whole leaves, will they be broken or even crushed?

THE FLAVOURS: The flavours added to the tea can be natural, organic or artificial. The flavouring should be carried out very delicately: if you add too little flavour the taste will remain weak, too much of it however could completely cover the real taste of the tea. The result also depends on how fresh the flavouring has been. Good quality tea will emit a natural scent. Furthermore the combination of fruit, buds and barks is delightful to the eyes.

THE LABELLING: Now, how do you recognize the quality of the tea on the packing? During production the tea leaves are being broken in specific processings. These processings basically define the tea characeteristics such as colour, taste and flavour.The tea classification provides the necessary information on how the tea has been produced.

 

 

Tea in whole leaves

Tee in ganzen Blättern

Tea in whole leaves

  • FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe): The tea is being collected when the blossom is starting. This is a high quality tea with a clear and aromatic brewing.
  • OP (Orange Pekoe): Referring to the size of the leaf, this term indicates a larger-sized grade of whole leaves without tips, the most simple leaf grade.
  • FP (Flowery Pekoe): A grading term that indicates fine leaves that have been rolled into tiny balls.
  • Pekoe: Here only a few fine leaves are picked from young shoots. These can be recognized by their tender white fluff on the lower side of the leaf.
  • Souchong: Large leaf teas harvested from the third and fourth leaf of the tea plant.
  • Pekoe Souchong: Tea harvested from the fourth to sixth leaf of the plant. Rather a coarse quality.
Tee aus Zerkleinerten Blättern

Tea from crushed leaves

  • Fannings: Small particles of broken tea. Because of its strong infusion mainly used for tea bags.
  • Dust: The smallest grade of tea consisting of bruised and sieved leaves, equally used in tea bags.
Tee aus gebrochenen Blättern

Tea from broken leaves

  • BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe): Strong black tea from broken leaves of higher quality.
  • BP (BROKEN PEKOE): Black tea, not the finest harvest.
  • BPS (Broken Pekoe Souchong): Tea assembled from unregularly broken tea, therefore a lower quality.