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Official Blog of the English Tea Store

It’s a Tea Leaf’s Life…

A great start to a tea leaf's journey to your cup! (stock image)
A great start to a tea leaf’s journey to your cup! (stock image)

by Guest Blogger Sarah Rosalind Roberts

Everyday millions of us drink cups of tea, but how many of you have ever wondered about the journey the tea leaf takes to make it to your mug? This is the story from the tea leaf’s point of view.

Hello – I am Camellia sinensis. It’s early spring and time for me to begin my journey. As one of the top two tea leaves on the plant, I am destined to be made into premium loose black tea. I have been allowed to grow to the perfect height to make harvesting easier to complete. Approached by an expert picker, I am twisted and plucked from the stem by hand and start to fly through the air into the basket on the plucker’s back. I’m left waiting a while until the basket begins to get full, at which point I’m moved to quality control to check that I’m good enough (which of course I am!)

From the moment I was picked, I feel myself start to wilt, which gradually starts enzymatic oxidation, also known as withering. I’m laid out with all the other leaves in the sun which is making me lose a lot of my water content and I’m starting to feel limp as my structure weakens.

Tea leaves ready for packing and shipping. (stock image)
Tea leaves ready for packing and shipping. (stock image)

I’m now being rolled and kneaded, causing me to ooze some of my leaf juices, which will help with the final flavour once I’m brewed. After this I’m left to oxidise in a climate controlled room for almost an hour. If I was going to be a different type of tea, I’d be oxidised for a shorter period of time. To finish me off and seal me at the right oxidation level, I’m being heated gently – it’s actually getting quite warm!

I’m now being shipped across the globe to a tea wholesaler to be sold on to a tea vendor. As a loose tea leaf, I find myself being placed into packaging with many others (it’s pretty dark in here). I find myself on the shelf of the tea vendor ready for someone to buy me. Although I have no idea who’s bought me I know I’m being transported somewhere. Suddenly there is light as the packaging that contains me opens. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or more precisely, I can see a teaspoon that shovels me into a teapot.

Black tea in the cup (ETS Image)
Black tea in the cup (ETS Image)

The hot water from the kettle hits me like a wave and all the time that went into my preparation makes it worth it for you. I’m being poured into a cup now and being stopped from entering by the strainer.

My journey has come to an end – it’s been one that has taken time and spanned many miles to reach your mug. I hope you can appreciate the lengths I’ve been through to give you the perfect cuppa when you need it most.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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