In June 2015 we had the great fortune of visiting the tea plantation in West Java which produces our Indonesian Green Pearls. We have documented all the steps involved in its production, from field to cup.
STEP 1: PICKING
Tea pluckers start their day at 7am here on the farm.
The Camellia sinensis sinensis tea bush requires
sharp razor blades to cut the stems precisely, so workers
wear these razor blades taped to their fingers – genius!
The top two leaves and a bud are carefully plucked, then weighed once the worker’s bag is full. The leaves are collected in large bags and taken to the onsite production unit, less than a couple of minutes away.
STEP 2: WITHERING
Immediately after plucking, the tea leaves are taken to the onsite factory where they are spread out on bamboo mats and left to dry for up to 3 hours, in order to remove any surplus water.
STEP 3: HEATING
The leaves are heated to approximately 300˚C until the enzymes that cause oxidation (chiefly polyphenol oxidase, PPO) are denatured. Without this important step, the enzymes would react with oxygen and begin to break down polyphenols in the tea leaves.
STEP 4: COMPRESSING
The tea is placed in a cloth then wound into a tight ball with this tea compressing machine. This requires a good deal of strength….
STEP 5: ROLLING
The ball is then placed in a tea rolling machine where it is placed under pressure and rotated, helping the tea leaves to form into ‘pearl’ shapes.
STEP 6: SEPARATION
The bundle of tea is then unwrapped and emptied into a rotating cylinder which separates the tea so it doesn’t form into a big lump.
REPEAT STEPS 4, 5 & 6 until the desired pearl form is achieved, which is usually up to 6 times.
STEP 7: DRYING
The tea is finally placed on a drying machine where it is spread out evenly by large rotating blades. It is then heated to approximately 90˚C as it travels through the machine. Steps 4, 5 and 6 are then repeated 3 times.
STEP 8: SORTING
The final step is to sort the tea. The tea is inspected by hand to ensure only perfectly formed pearls are used. Any broken leaves from the tea are collected and then made into tea bags.
The green pearls are now ready to drink. Simply take one teaspoon per person, add water at approx 85°C, infuse for 2 mins and enjoy the delicate, refreshing, floral taste.