Tea Leaf

It's journey from bush to Belfast

The ritual of pouring hot water through tea leaves is so simple, so familiar, but when you discover the complexity and art of making tea, that’s when you see it in a completely different light. 

The tea bush

It all starts with the leaves. The tea bush is a member of the Camellia family, growing to over 20 feet but usually pruned to 3-4 feet for cultivation. 

The tea gardens that we buy from in India and Kenya have exotic names like Keyhung, Borengajuli and Doomur Dullung. These gardens are each approx. 2000 acres in size and have beautifully tended tea bushes that are flat topped and stretch out as far as the eye can see.

Region and climate

The Camellia Sinensis tea bush can be grown all over the world, wherever there is heat and moisture. However, it particularly loves the fertile soil of India and Kenya, where the climate is humid, warm and with little risk of frost.

When only a couple of weeks old, the leaves are picked, withered, fermented and dried.

Picking

At Thompson's Teas we are a little bit crazy about quality. This means hand picking every tea leaf that makes it into any one of our blends. Other common methods of production include plucking with shears, or plucking with large machines resembling hedge trimmers. However, this leads to premature cutting open of the leaf which allows the leaf juices to escape too early. For all our blends we insist on the best, which means hand picking just the top two leaves and the bud.

Plucking as we do by hand, is much more selective, is more gentle in the process, and also means that we can select only the good leaf and discard the bad. Incredibly, when sunshine and moisture are in perfect harmony, a tea bush is ready to be picked every week. When watching this short clip, remember that to make just one pack of Thompson's Tea, it takes 1 kilo of green tea leaf!

Withering

After being picked, the tea leaves are placed onto huge withering troughs, and to a depth of about 12 inches. Withering causes the leaf to lose about 60% of its moisture and this takes approximately 12 hours to achieve.

Rolling

The leaf is put through a large roller, which gently breaks it down in size. This process is necessary whether manufacturing larger speciality leaves, or smaller ones for tea bags.

Cutting/Tearing/Curling

The leaf is broken down into smaller particles using CTC (Cut, Tear and Curl) rollers. These rollers can produce smaller leaves which are required for tea bag production, given the need for a relatively fast infusion within the confines of what is a small and compact pouch.

Fermenting

The juices released from the leaf after it is torn contain enzymes which react with oxygen in the air to oxidise or ferment. Over the period of an hour, this causes the leaves to turn a coppery colour much in the same way that an apple will, soon after the protective skin is broken.

This is in fact the secret behind making green tea! Not many people know this, but the only difference between green tea and your usual black tea cuppa, is that for green tea you simply don't let the leaves ferment. That's all! Watch the clip of Ross Thompson in a tea production factory in Kenya showing you this small part of the production process.

Get Connected

Get Connected

Connect with other fans of our teas and spread the word.

@PunjanaTea
Friends of Punjana

Friends of Punjana

To be the first to hear about our latest offers, competitions and news, sign up here.

Sign up
Store Locator

Store Locator

You'll find our range of teas all over the UK & Ireland, find your nearest stockist here.