Step 1: Plantation
The finest tea bushes of KTE thrive in the moist hills of the eastern Nepal at an altitude of 1300m to 1800m under suitable conditions. Nurtured in the Himalayan foothills, it is from the veils of mist, cool mountain air and abundant sunshine, where Nepal organic tea gets its bright colour and the fine, subtle and slightly fruity flavour.
The bushes are grown without the use of any harmful chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. The fact that plantation is done with only the use of organic manure, is what separates us from the numerous tea estates in the country.
Step 2: Plucking and Pruning
The plucking of green leaves is done by skilled labours that have been trained within KTE. ‘Two leaves and a bud’ is what is to be plucked from each growing shoot of the tea plant. Plucking is done with such care so as not to hamper the proper growth of the shoot during the week when they are ready to be plucked again.
Pruning is the process of restricting the vertical growth of the tea bush and balancing the tea plant to stimulate horizontal expansion which makes plucking easier and abundant during the next plucking season. Pruning not only helps to get rid of the worn out and unproductive part of the plant but also maintains the plant hygiene.
The tea leaves start to wilt soon after plucking and hence, the timely transportation of the green leaves to the factory or the weathering area is of utmost importance. Weathering is carried out to remove excess amount of water from the leaves and stimulate a temperate enzymatic oxidation. The leaves are arranged in weathering columns as soon as they are transported to the factory. Cool/warm air is passed through the weathering columns depending on the nature of the leaves. The leaves lose almost a quarter of their weight during weathering. This allows the breakdown of leaf proteins into amino acids and enhances the amount of caffeine which is essential for the taste of the tea.
Step 4: Rolling
Rolling is done soon after the weathering process is completed. It is done to stimulate oxidation of the leaves and remove essential oils from the tea leaves which are essential for the oxidation process. The leaves are rolled with the help of heavy rolling machines for certain amount of time depending on the quality of the leaves and the type of tea being processed. This is another process which is highly responsible for the taste of the final tea.
Step 5: Fermentation/ Oxidation:
Oxidation is done to produce black and oolong tea and not required for the processing of green tea. The rolled tea leaves are exposed in a temperate controlled room where the leaves turn darker after losing their chlorophyll content. The production of black tea requires 100% oxidation of the leaves. It takes almost 12 hours for the leaves to get completely oxidized. Oxidation is responsible for the aroma, colour and taste of the final tea.
Step 6: Firing and Baking:
The final process of tea processing is the drying of the oxidized leaves which is commonly referred to as firing or baking. This is done to halt the process of fermentation. Drying must be done taking great care so as not to over-cook the leaves. Firing is responsible for the final quality of the tea.
Step 7: Sorting and Grading:
Tea is finally sorted and graded in a sorting machine according to the size. The tea is sorted into basically three parts. The tea containing whole leaves is called leaf tea while the tea containing broken leaves is called broken tea. Finally, the tea broken into fine dust particles is called fennings.
Step 8: Tea Tasting:
The final step before packing is the tasting of tea. It is done to ensure the quality of the tea. Tea tasting is done after every batch of tea is produced. Certified tea tasters comment on the final quality of the tea with regards to its taste, colour, aroma and other various factors.
Step 9: Bulk Packing:
The bulk packing is done at KTE factory itself before transporting it to the head marketing office at Kathmandu. It is done in aluminum sacks. To ensure the quality and save the tea from any damage during the 2 days journey to Kathmandu, it is further enclosed in wooden chests.
Step 10: Packaging
The final packaging is done at Sangrilla Agro World in Kathmandu. The tea is packed in various packets as per the demand of the customers. Tea bagging is also done at the same office in Kathmandu. For more information on the variety of packets and products, visit the product profile section of the website.
Step 11: Ready To Brew:
Preliminary test results of KTEs tea have indicated that the caffeine content is comparatively low and Linalool, Methyllsalcylate (a flavoring compound) is significantly higher as compared to other tea. Tea experts believe that such character exists due to its unique geographical location and virginity of soil.
The finest cup of tea that reaches the final drinker odder them a mystic Himalayan orthodox tea- a spectacular unforgettable taste of fine tea, a result of the fruits of nature blended to perfection.