Southern India, Part 1: ‘A Cup of Tea’

Last month I was lucky to enough to embark on a journey to Southern India. The journey unveiled stunning landscapes. Thousand of year old ancient temples sit among the array of banana, king coconut and jackfruit trees.

Kerala is known to locals as “God’s Own Country” and it is easy to see why. The lush green mountains are carpeted with tea plants and almost no space is left uncovered. Hindu temples, churches and colourful modest houses sprawling within these valleys occasionally break this sea of tea.

The process of making tea

The tea-pickers, an array of colourfully dressed women set out in the early hours of the morning down the winding lanes to pluck fresh leaves. They would then walk to the tea factory, which is equipped with machines imported from Belfast and Birmingham, since all the first tea plantations were owned by the British.

The women place their loads onto large dryers, which blow out warm air. Once the fresh green leaves are withered and browned, they travel down a shoot for a process called CCT, crushing, curling and tearing. This is when the start of the tea process really begins. Once the CCT process is complete, the end product resembles coarse soil.

The next step is fermentation. After fermentation the tea is dried again at 195F. This is the final step before the tea is packed, ready for the auction houses.

by Trisha Chauhan

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