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Tea

Tea

Tea producers

Historically, tea growing and consumption started in China which for long time remained almost the only producer of tea. When the British introduced tea plants to India by the end of 19th century, the production of tea increased dramatically.

Currently, the major producers of tea in the world are China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and Japan.Most of tea consumed in Europe, India and North America is black tea which accounts for almost 80% of the global consumption. 

Green tea is a little less than 18% and the oolong tea, produced and consumed primarily in China and Japan, represents only about 2% of global consumption. 

Tea growing and harvesting

Usually only the tender tea shoots and the two upper tea leaves are cut and harvested; the older leaves tend to have a negative influence on the quality of tea.

In plantations  situated at high altitudes (colder regions), the tea plant naturally grows more slowly. This produces a particularly subtle and aromatic tea. 

The time in which the harvesting takes place has also an important influence on the quality of tea. 
Two or three times a day, the green leaves are transported to the factory where various production processes are applied in order to obtain an aromatic tea. The average daily collection is approximately between 16 to 24 kg of green leaves per day.  This amount translates into 4 - 6 kg of processed and ready to sell tea.

Tea production process

When fresh tea leaves arrive at the factory, the process begins to reduce moisture in the leaves by about a third to soften the leaves and make them more flexible.

This is done in a sort of channels from 25 to 30 meters in length, covered with a wire mesh and ventilated with large fans.  This process takes 12 to 18 hours.

In the next phase, the tea leaves are crushed in a machine which has two large, heavy metal plates that rotate against each other. This results in fermentation and the development of essential oil which are key in the aroma of the tea. 
The leaves which have passes through the rollers and started to ferment are brought to the fermentation room where tea slowly moves around a rotating drum in order to introduce oxygen and speed up fermentation.

During fermentation lasting about 2 to 3 hours, tea leaves change color and gradually becomes reddish copper. The quality of the final tea depends largely on the proper fermentation. The final step is drying.

Green tea is not fermented which means this step of the production process is skipped. Green tea after the initial moisture removal passes through a steam treatment which destroying enzymes. Then the drying process is applied to ensure that the leaves are not colored dark as black tea but maintain a green-olive color. 

 The black tea once it is dried, it is screened to sort it by size and it is generally classified into the following grades: 

  • Whole leaf tea 
  • Broken leaf tea 
  • Tea crushed 
  • Tea powder

 

Tea health benefits

For over three thousand years, tea has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine .Today, numerous scientific studies demonstrate the antioxidant properties which help protect the body from free radical.  To have all these virtues, the tea should be of excellent quality. 

Depending on the type of tea, and their growing conditions, it can have different active ingredients that give it different properties.  Tea may contains over 350 components of which 40% is carbohydrate, 20% protein, 2% fat and 9% minerals (manganese, potassium, magnesium, fluorine) plus vitamins, including B (B1, B2, B3) or the vitamin C in the green tea . Also has tannins, whose effects on the organism are modest due to the presence of polyphenols.

According to some studies, green tea has anti-cancer properties and is able to prevent prostate cancer. Also studies showed that red tea pu erh had a significant positive effect on cholesterol and not producing any undesirable effect. 

A Japanese study showed that the total level of cholesterol and triglycerides was lower among heavy drinkers of tea, with an increase of good cholesterol and decrease of bad cholesterol.