How do you make tea? Well not how do YOU make tea, but how is tea actually made?
Firstly I have an image warning! You are in for some damn fine images of tea porn here – hot, steamy, bushy and breathtakingly gorgeous. 😉
I love tea in pretty much in all its forms (well maybe except for the black tea bag variety with cow’s milk poured in – but that’s mainly because I don’t tolerate dairy and didn’t ever develop a liking for it). In fact it’s probably the beverage we love most in Chinese Medicine. I’ve been to China and learnt a lot about the various forms of green teas, I’ve even done a tea appreciate course but I’d never seen how this delicious, medicinal and incredibly popular drink was actually made to give us those medicinal qualities (from bush to cup that is). Just so you know whatever research says I don’t believe a microwave forms part of the tea making process. So I trotted off to Sri Lanka, where some would say is the source of the best black tea in the world (Ceylon tea anyone?), to find out. I visited no less than four tea plantations and their factories to try to get an understanding of how the cammelia sinensis leaf is transformed to make a delightful cup of tea. (For those not in the know, all true tea comes from the leaves of just one plant – cammelia sinensis – be it black, green or white. (Herbal and rooibos teas are made from different plants altogether.)
So here is a photographic journey of the tea making process from the Handunugoda Tea Estate, at Ahangama in the south, where they produce their tea with beautiful, old machinery. They are also famous for their virgin white tea and a range of flavoured teas.
Rolling the leaves in the heavy rolling machine.
The rolled leaves further ferment and then are heated as part of the firing process (the leaves turn black at this stage).
Ungraded leaves are put through the grading machine. Four grades are produced – from small pieces to large pieces. Small pieces are used for tea bags and large for the loose leaf tea. The small pieces produce a stronger black tea and the larger pieces a lighter black tea. The size does not indicate quality. This tea making process is followed to maximise the medicinal benefits and flavour of the tea.
The finished product – black tea ready to be sold at the Colombo tea markets to the big brand names.
I mentioned earlier that I visited four tea factories. Handunugoda Tea Estate was the first. Later, I visited the towns of Ella and Nuwara Eliya which are in the high country. The area is famous for tea and the scenic railway that shows off the tea plantations.
Enjoy these images from the Newburgh Estate Green Tea Factory (Finlays) (Ella), Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory (Ella) and Pedro Tea Estate (they pride themselves as an ethical tea producer) (Nuwara Eliya) and the railway trip between.
Newburgh Green Tea Factory (Ella) – the process is similar without the ‘firing’ part of the process that black tea goes through. This factory was small and cute; it smelled fantastic!
Halpe Tea Factory (Ella) – these images do not do this factory justice. It is the largest tea factory (or so I was told) and has sweeping views of the local tea plantations. They have a lovely variety of flavoured teas also.
Pedro Tea Estate (Nuwara Eliya) – This factory produced my favourite cup of broken orange pekoe of the trip (the gorgeous orange cuppa pictured above as the very first image of this blog). The factory tour was interesting and the plantation is incredibly beautiful.
And here is one of the most beautiful railway journeys you might take (from Ella to Nuwara Eliya and just beyond) and those magical leaves:
To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture). Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.