Familiarise Yourself With Your Tea: Its Growth to Maturity
If you are not already a lover of tea—then it is high time you become one. Tea is one of the most natural and ancient beverages in the world, and there is a lot more in a single sip of tea than you may see. This is true of any type and brand of tea that is available in the market. Do you know that India, in particular, is known to have a love affair with tea, could be because they are among the leading tea producers? On average, each Indian drinks about 4 cups of tea daily amounting to about 13000 tonnes annually.
This habit of taking tea has been easily integrated into our culture and society; we have tea everywhere from tea breaks, tea cakes to afternoon tea. All these are everyday names that have been inspired by tea.
As a lover of tea, it is important to understand the entire process of growing tea until it finds its way into your favourite tea mug. Below are important details about your most adored beverage—tea.
Tea: Varieties and Where It is Grown
Tea plants do well in areas with acidic soils and heavy rainfall, though the plants can also do well in areas that are 1.3 miles above sea level. Mass tea production is grown in huge plantations with the world’s highest producers being China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka in that order.
An interesting fact is that all tea varieties—green, white, black and oolong are from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference in the tea varieties we are familiar with depends on the processing of the tea leaves. Differences in fermentation and picking time produce the different colours, flavours, and strengths that we know.
How tea is grown
Tea is grown from seeds and cuttings that are taken care in nursery beds. In their early stages, the plants are often weeded with regular application of fertilisers and pesticides to increase the yield. The plant is constantly pruned as only the two leaves, and a bud at the top of the plant are needed. Once a seedling is 18 months, it is transferred and planted into a plantation. Once they grow bigger, they are then planted into permanent spots in a decent row. The distance between one coffee tree and another is four feet. A hectare of land can support about 3,000 tea plants. They grow to form tea bushes, then eventually become tea estates. It takes 3 to 5 years for a tea to mature.
They are ready for picking at different times. For instance, if the tea was planted in low regions, they are ready for harvest after three years while high regions require five years. Tea does well in a sloppy terrain. In case planted on hills, terraces are constructed to help trap rainy water as well as curb erosion.
Usually, there are two major harvesting periods in a year: early spring and summer. But this is not to say that tea is not harvested in other seasons; the harvest still goes on in other seasons though in reduced yields. The majority of the tea is harvested by hand picking as opposed to machine as the machine destroys many leaves. Harvesting is done early before the morning dew dries. The bud is first pressed between the thumb and index finger before plucking. Once enough tea leaves are picked, they are rushed to the tea factory. Usually, tea factories are situated near the tea plantations in order to minimise oxidation once the leaves are plucked. Oxidation determines the quality and type of tea that is obtained after processing.
Life Continuation of the Tea Plant
Tea can live for decades with many harvesting periods. After plucking, the plants are pruned to maintain the height of the plants at a certain level, and new buds emerge. After years of plucking and pruning, the size and quality of the leaves decrease. The plant can be chopped from the roots, and new branches emerge. The plant is then as new and ready for another cultivation cycle.