CEYLON TEA MANUFACTURE – Its Various Stages of Processing
Ceylon Tea Manufacture – from harvested green leaf is a long and complicated process in order to produce Green tea or Black tea.
Ceylon Tea manufacture is carried out in a Tea factory or Processing Center where the personnel must be very well experienced and qualified to carry out the most important tasks in producing an end product which must be to an acceptable standard at the international level. Otherwise, the tea can get rejected or fetch extremely low prices culminating in total loss to the producer.
The following are basic information on Ceylon tea manufacture which you may find interesting.
• Both Black Tea and Green Tea is made out of the same tea bush – “Camellia Sinensis.”
• In Black Tea, the green leaf is withered for several hours to reduce the moisture content and rolled to break them into Dhools. This process starts a series of chemical reaction that are catalyzed by the enzymes in the leaf. In the fermentation stage of the tea, these chemical reactions make oxidation or fermentation to take place.
• In the case of Green Tea manufacture, the green leaves are subjected to heat by steaming or putting in a heated pan to reduce the moisture. This avoids fermentation or oxidization stage, which in turn inactivates the enzymes. It has been found that over 300 types of amino acids are preserved under this process, and said to be extremely beneficial to human health.
The first process after green leaf arrives at a factory is weighing as it is. The next stage is called Withering.
There is a misconception that a good factory manager must be able to ‘make good tea out of any standard of green leaf.’ A very good standard of green leaf is really important for tea manufacture process to achieve a high standard of quality made tea.
• The importance of transporting the plucked leaf to the factory cannot be emphasized more. That is why they have at least three ‘weighing’ of leaf in the field. The leaf received at the factory is quickly weighed and then spread evenly on tats or troughs. They are stretched the whole length of upper floors where there is free air flow, so that excess moisture is removed from the leaf.
• The process of Withering is carefully monitored, as over-withering can seriously affect the end product. During withering physical and chemical changes takes place in the leaf. A correct level of withering is achieved taking into consideration external factors such as humidity, temperature and standard of leaf.
• When the correct level of withering has been achieved, the leaf is rolled, twisted and slowly broken up. During this process, the leaf is ruptured causing the air to come into contact with the cells triggering a chemical reaction. Most tea factories in Sri Lanka use Troughs for withering. They replaced earlier methods of withering leaf on tats made of jute hessian, mostly imported from Bangladesh.
Below (1) – a manufacture strategy being discssed. (2)Trough Withering in progress.
• Rolling – Orthodox rolling is the most common method, where the green leaf is rolled in Rollers. This method produces the traditional looking, long and wiry whole leaf types. This method of rolling is achieved by feeding withered leaf into a machine which appears like a large mixing bowl, on a circular, hard-surfaced table, on which brass or wooden battens are fitted. During the process the leaf is torn apart to a certain degree and also crushed. Orthodox teas tend to be lighter and less full bodied, compared to CTC manufactured teas.
Rollers occupy the ground floor of the factory and the withered leaf is fed through openings on the ceiling into the roller cylinder. This cylinder is adjustable to give the required pressure on the leaf during rolling.
Cut, Twist & Curl (CTC)
In the CTC manufacture process, the tea is sent through a CTC Machine which makes small balls of tea. The withered leaf passes through two large rollers that revolve opposite to one another. On each roller are a multitude of sharp blades set at an angle that mesh with the opposing roller. As the tea passes through this series of blades the tea is cut, torn apart and is compressed or curled into little balls.
This is a popular variety of processing for higher yields of crop. CTC teas are more suitable for tea bagging since they are easily fed into bagging machines.
Feeding Roller, A row of Rollers and Rotorvanes shown below:
FERMENTING OR OXIDATION
• The rolled leaves, now called Dhools, are collected and spread over Fermenting Tables, where exposure to warm air makes it fermented. During Fermentation, the tea acquires its quality, flavor, strength and color depending on fermenting period, degree of rupture of leaf, humidity and temperature. The period can vary from twenty minutes to five hours. Due to the chemical process, the leaf changes from greenish to a bright coppery color.
• The fermented leaf is then sent through the firing chambers where hot air will quickly dry the Dhools to prevent further chemical reaction taking place.
FIRING OR DRYING
• Firing technology itself is highly technical, as the process involves firing temperature, volume of air, load of leaf on to dryer trays, period of drying and the inlet and exhaust temperatures. The machinery used for firing is called a Drier. There are different types and sizes of Driers in use.
SORTING AND GRADING TEAS
• Once the tea passes through the firing process, it will be ready for Grading. The Graded Tea is final product. The tea particles are separated into different shapes and sizes, by sifting through a progressively finer series of meshes. The various grades denote only the size and appearance of the leaf and bear no relation to the quality or flavor.
• The major grades of tea are – Leaf Grades and Broken Grades. Leaf grades have larger and longer pieces of leaf giving lighter colored liquor and the Broken grades consist of smaller pieces which normally gives a darker liquor and stronger flavor. The smallest particles come under Dust grade, valued for its strength and quick infusion. Within these grades there are sub-divisions such as Orange Pekoes from Leaf Grades, and Fannings from Broken Grades.
• Once Grading is complete the Teas are now weighed and packed into Tea Chests or Paper Sacks ready for dispatch.
All sorted and graded teas are now ready for packing in tea chests or bags. Pics show made tea being filled in large bins and packed teas in bags ready for despatch.
TEA MANUFACTURE EXPERTS – Below, M.H. Kamiss, Factory Executive of Somerset Estate, in the Nuwara Eliya district with his brother T.M.N. Kamiss, a Consultant Tea Adviser.
Once Ceylon Tea Manufacture process is complete, the Tea has to be Tasted for its Quality and Standard
After Ceylon Tea Manufacture – Made Tea is now ready for MARKETING