Cultivating Process

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NURSERY
Young plants are propagated by means of vegetative propagation in the nursery, prior to planting in the field. The period in the nursery depends on elevation and it varies from 9 - 12 months.

 
NURSERY
   

NEW CLEARING
Sri Lanka was initially planted out in seedling tea, i.e. propagated from seed. This is now being replaced with clonel tea, which produces higher yields and better quality. In general, the old teas are up rooted and the soil rehabilitated for a period of approximately 2 years prior to planting. Young plants take approximately 2 years to come into production.

NEW CLEARING
TEA FIELD
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PLUCKING
In Sri Lanka, the plucking of the tea leaf is mainly done manually. Experiments are being carried out to mechanise this process, which is proving difficult due to the terrain.

TEA PLUCKERS AT WORK
CENTRALLY LOCATED TEA FACTORY
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WITHERING
The green leaf is transported to the factory for manufacture the leaf is withered. i.e. moisture is removed by spreading in troughs and passing dry air through it, till tea leaf reaches the correct constituency

SPREADING OF GREEN LEAF
INTO THE WITHERING TROUGH
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE
WITHERING TROUGH
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MANUFACTURING

In Sri Lanka there are 3 basic methods of manufacturing.

  1. Orthodox manufacture, which consists of only rolling.
  2. Orthodox rotorvane manufacture, which consists of rolling, and rotorvaning.
  3. CTC manufacture, which is also known as cut, tear and curl.
ROLLING TABLE
ROTORVANE
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ROLL BREAKING
The Bulk from the roller or rotorvane is fed to a roll breaker to extract dhool i.e. to obtain smaller particles.

ROLL BREAKER
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FERMENTATION
The extracted dhools are left to ferment on tiled-beds to develop aroma, colour and flavour. This exercise could range from 45 minutes to 3 hours, i.e. shorter fermentation for light bright teas and longer fermentation for coloury teas.

DHOOLS EVENLY SPREAD ON FERMENTING TABLES
 
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FIRING
To arrest fermentation, the raw fermented tea is exposed to high temperatures of dry air. This arrests fermentation and gives the tea leaf its blackness.

DRIER
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SIFTING
The dry black tea is passed through trays of meshes to sort it out in to different particle sizes. Each particle size has a name recognized to the Tea Trade, with which it is identified. i.e. BOP - passes through 12 mesh and over 16 mesh. BOPF - passes through 16 mesh and over 24 mesh. Size of mesh is appertains per square inch.

SOME OF THE MACHINES USED DURING THE SORTING AND CLEANING PROCESS
 
BINNING & BLENDING

Since teas are packed in lines of normally 20, 40 or 60 chests, it might not be possible to pack on a daily basis. Therefore the same particle size is collected in bins on a daily basis and when sufficient tea is available for packing, they are bulked together to give uniformity throughout the line. The mixing could take place manually or by machine.

 
BLENDING IN PROGRESS

PACKING
Teas are then packed in to chests or bags, to await sale at the auction.

PACKED AND READY
TO BE DISPATCHED