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Tea farming and harvesting

Latitude, longitude, elevation exposure to the sun, rain, soil characteristics, and of course the skilful hand of man, produce in this Camelia varietal an infinity of flavors, aromas, and sensations.

the tea tree and its cultivation

The tea plant belongs to the Camellia family. There are two main varieties of plants: the Camellia Sinensis (or Chinese Camelia) and the Camellia Assamica (from Assam, India). All the other varieties now cultivated are a result of hybridization of these two. The latter, can reach up to 20 meters in nature, but when cultivated it is pruned to maintain a comfortable plucking height of about 1,20 meters. The plant usually lives up to 50 years and can be plucked starting from the fifth year.

The growing regions are situated between 42° latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and 31° latitude in the Southern Hemisphere. Ideal growing temperatures should remain between 18 and 20°C and have little variations. In tropical regions, tea can be cultivated at high altitudes up to 2500 meters a.s.l.. The ground should be permeable and sloping because the tea plant cannot survive in stagnant water. Sun and shadow are other key elements, which is why often very big trees are planted all around the plantation to filter sunrays that are too strong and can burn essential oils that are crucial for the tea leaves aroma.

Lahe harvest is done mainly from February to November depending on the region. Normally, in tropical regions it is done all the year round (like in Sri Lanka or Indonesia), while in sub-tropical regions only 4 times a year (like in Japan or northern India). At the end of a tea tree's branch there's a bud, followed by other leaves below it. The leaves are never plucked separately: the part of the stem that unites the young shoot and the leaves are always plucked as a whole. The number of leaves plucked under the bud determines the quality of the tea. Generally, the more leaves are removed the lower the quality. The best plucking (imperial) consists of the bud and the first leaf that follows. The second best (fine) consists of the bud and the two leaves that follow. The average plucking is the bud and the three leaves that follow. The fourth and fifth leaves are normally used for smoked teas.

A curiosity: the harvest on the plantations of India or Sri Lanka is still largely done by hand, but in the large commercial plantations of Kenya or in countries with very high labor costs such as Japan, harvesting now take place almost exclusively with the use of machines.