The Journey of Tea
Only the finest, freshest and most flavourful tea leaves are selected by our expert tea tasters to ensure that every single cup of tea bearing the Ahmad Tea name matches the high expectations of our customers. Below are the processes that are undertaken from plucking to bulk tea packing.
For decades we have worked in close partnership with many estates, gaining a deep understanding of the characteristics of the tea they produce and a detailed insight into the methods they employ. Our commitment to such a close partnership over so many years is part of our investment in the ongoing quality of our tea.
The tea leaf grows on the Thea Sinensis plant, a member of the Camellia family; it grows naturally to over 20ft and is indigenous to China and India. When in cultivation, the tea bush is regularly pruned so that it is kept to a height of three feet.
Only the tips and the top two layers of young leaves, where the sap and nutrients are concentrated, are plucked. Not only does this help to provide a good quality cup of tea, it also stimulates the growth of the bush, thus increasing the maximum yield.
Tea bushes are grown best between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and between the altitudes of 1000 and 7000 feet. They enjoy warm, tropical climates with good rainfall. The climate dictates whether the bush can be plucked all year round, or if it is seasonal. The warmer climates, such as those of Africa and Sri Lanka, allow all year round producttion, with especially high yields during the monsoon periods. Colder climates, such as those found in the Himalayan foothills, only produce yields in seasonal "flushes." Differences in soil acidity, altitude and climate produce the distinctively different flavours of the various teas.
The top “two leaves and bud” are carefully and expertly plucked by the many pluckers employed by the garden. Harvesting the crop is a very labour-intensive process. The worker has to manually select the leaves and tips from the bush. Each bush is plucked every 5-10 days depending on the area in which it is grown. The steep hilly location prevents the use of high-tech equipment in most cases. This, however, is beneficial as it ensures that only the finest tips and leaves are plucked and that no foreign matter, such as twigs, find their way into the finished product. Ahmad Tea uses only hand-plucked teas.
Once collected, the leaves are spread over a long tray and dried with hot air. In most cases this air is forced through small holes in the tray as it quickens the process. The leaves will turn supple after withering which prevents it from breaking into flakes when under the action of a CTC/orthodox machine. Besides reduction of moisture content, some biochemical changes occur in the leaves during withering which influence the characteristics of the made tea.
This stage breaks the veins of the leaves, releasing the juices (catechins and enzymes) essential in order to begin fermentation. During processing the leaves take on the final shape found in the Ahmad Tea caddies bought in shops across the world. There are two different methods of processing the leaf: Orthodox, primarily used for loose leaf tea, and C.T.C. (Crush-Tear-Curl).
Once the leaves have been 'processed' they are placed in a cool, airy and humid room to ferment. The thickness of the spread controls the temperature of the leaf, the rate of moisture loss and the access of oxygen. It is this stage that is the most important as it determines the taste. If the fermentation process continues for too long, or stopped prematurely, the tea taste will be impaired.
Drying the leaf in an oven stops fermentation. The leaves are dried to a moisture content of approximately 2%, in order to prevent a musty taste. If the firing continues for too long the tea will adopt a poor, burnt taste.
Once the firing stage has been completed the leaves must be graded into differing sizes and categories before final bulk tea packaging. There are many grades of tea, for both the Orthodox and C.T.C methods, from dust through to whole leaves. Understandably, only about 5% of the total production retains its full leaf shape. As a result it is these leaves that command the highest prices. In general, though, quality is primarily determined not by the size of the leaf but by ensuring that leaves are plucked from the top two layers of the bush.
World of Ahmad Tea
The preservation of the tea's quality over its long and intricate journey from the estate to our hands is dependent upon the continuous care with which it is treated, tested and tasted every step of the way.
It continues through our care at every step of our selected teas' journeys. And it culminates in the creation and recreation of each blend according to the palates, skill and experience of the Ahmad Tea artisan tasters, supported by the exhaustive nature of our tasting, selection, blending and testing procedures.
Over 500 cups of tea
OVER 500 cups of tea are carefully tasted each day.
Our process culminates in the creation and recreation of each blend according to the palates, skill and experience of the Ahmad Tea artisan tasters.
Ahmad Tea proudly exports to over 80 countries worldwide, assuring the best quality in every cup.