Darjeeling Tea Processing - The process of Darjeeling Tea manufacture

Darjeeling Tea Processing - The process of Darjeeling Tea manufacture

Darjeeling Tea Processing
(Tea Manufacture)
Tea Roller Machine in Darjeeling Tea Estate used for Darjeeling Tea manufacture PLUCKING:
During quality periods i.e. first flush or second flush, two leaves and a bud are picked - this is called fine plucking, resulting in high quality teas. At other times, even three or four leaves and a bud are plucked - this is called coarse plucking. The plucking cycle is maintained at about 7 day intervals. The plucked leaves are collected in bamboo baskets, taking care that they are not crushed by overloading the baskets. WEIGHMENT : The plucked leaves are delivered to the factory for weighment. Each plucker is paid against the quantity (weight) of green leaf that he/she brings in.

WEIGHMENT :
The plucked leaves are delivered to the factory for weighment. Each plucker is paid against the quantity (weight) of green leaf that he/she brings in.

WITHERING:
The green leaf, after eradication of any foreign matter, is spread on "withering troughs", loosely, to a depth of 6 inches. Fans are installed to pass air over the green leaf while it withers. The object of the withering process is to get rid of the moisture content in the green leaf and prepare the leaf to withstand the strain of rolling without breaking up. Period of withering can vary from 18 to 24 hrs. depending on the moisture content. The leaf, when properly withered, gives off a fragrant odour.


ROLLING:
The object of rolling is to bruise the cells of the leaves so that their sap (juice) is exposed to the action of oxygen in the air. Rolling also gives a twist to the leaf. The cell sap contains tannins, caffeine, proteins and other chemical substances, which ultimately give the characteristic colour to the tea liquor during infusion. The withered leaf is given 3 or 4 rolls (each of 30 minutes). After the first roll, the leaf is sifted (kutcha sifting) and the fine leaves (about 20%) are taken out. The rest are given a second roll and in the second kutcha sifting about 20 - 25% rolled leaf is taken out. This process is repeated on the remainder with a 3rd or 4th roll. The first roll is done at low pressure, second at medium and 3rd at harder pressure.

FERMENTATION:
The rolled leaves are spread on fermenting beds and left to ferment for a period of 3 to 4 hrs. The leaves are loosely spread to a thickness of 1 or 1.5. inches. Good fermentation results in the colour of the leaf to change to reddish brown giving off the characteristic aroma after the juices in the rolled leaves react with each other and the air.

FIRING:
The fermented leaves are then fired (i.e. heated) in a drier machine. The object of this process is to arrest fermentation and slowly dessicate the leaf in such a way so as to extract the moisture without scorching the tea and at the same time, preserving its quality and other characters to the optimum level. The leaves are passed through the driers and remain within the driers for a period of approx. 20 mins, at a temperature of around 240 to 250° F. This results in the leaves moisture content to come down to 20 - 25% from 60 - 70% before it enters the drier. A second firing is also given shortly thereafter.

SORTING:
Sorting of different grades is done by sorting machines which are fitted with wire mesh trays that revolve or vibrate. The tea is passed over wire mesh of varying sizes so that the whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings and dust grades fall at different places. These sorted teas comprise the different grades.

PACKING:
The different grades of tea are then packed into plywood chests / paper sacks lined with aluminium foil inside. Each lot is generally packed in a minimum of 5 chests / sacks or more. The chests / sacks are sealed and the grade name, garden name, lot number (called an invoice), chest number, gross and nett weight, year of manufacture etc. are printed on the chests / sacks with stencils. Lastly, Darjeeling CTM user licence number and Darjeeling "CTM-applied for" are also stencilled onto the tea chests / sacks.