See how your tea is made
See how your tea is made
Ghograjan Tea Estate is a 5th generation, family-run farm in the renowned tea belt of Upper Assam. Its history dates back to the early 1930’s, when aspiring tea entrepreneur Budhkaran Choukhany planted the garden’s first seeds near the Ghogra River. Hence, “Ghogra-Jan” came into existence, as “Jan” in the local language means “small river.”
In 1935, Budhkaran Choukhany became one of the founding members of the Assam Tea Planters Association, and in 1948, after Indian independence, he established the Ghograjan factory. Since then, his successors have developed the property by hiring the best planters to manage the estate, building a sophisticated modern tea processing facility, investing in R&D, and taking care of the Ghograjan community.
Today, the plantation sprawls more than 350 acres of tea under cultivation and employs over 400 people with well laid out infrastructure, including housing, a health center and a primary school. Ghograjan Tea is prevalent in quality conscious markets because of its compliance to ethical and sustainable agricultural practices. Together with bulk CTC teas, Ghograjan continues its legacy of ethical farming practices and is considered to be one of the finest gardens producing premium Orthodox teas.
Plucking is where the MAGIC begins - it is the process in which the delicate leaves are handpicked. The quality of tea made is determined mostly by the kind of leaf you pluck, hence it is extremely important for the leaf to be plucked at the right maturity level. Plucking of tea leaves is usually done in a two leaf and a bud sequence - since that ensures that the highest quality of tea is made and the tea waste (by product of tea) is minimized.
Handling of fresh leaf after its plucked is as important as the maturity of leaf plucked. Careless or excessive handling adds impurities to the leaf. Also as the temperature rises during the day the leaves tend to turn Brown from Green. Hence its extremely important to transport the fresh leaves to the manufacturing unit as soon as possible to minimize handling and to preserve the freshness of the leaves.
Freshly plucked tea leaves are fragile and can easily break apart. So as a first step, the leaves are laid out to dry for several hours so they will “wither” and loose some of their moisture content. Withering softens the tea leaves, making them flexible and supple so they won’t crumble during the rest of the processing steps.
Rolling is an essential step in making Whole Leaf teas. In this step the withered leaves get rolled and pressed in a rolling machine for about 30-35 minutes during which the leaves undergo various levels of pressure (light, medium and high) in cycles. Rolling helps release the juices of the tea and helps initiate the oxidation process. Also because of the rolling movement the leaves start to take their WIRY shape.
Oxidation is the process in which the Rolled Leaves are exposed to Oxygen in a controlled environment. Oxidation starts turning the leaves from Green to Brown because the juice of the leaves have been released and they start to undergo a natural reaction. This is also when the leaves start to acquire the inherent flavor.
Once the leaves are oxidized to the desired level, they are then shifted to the dryer. The dryer as the name suggests DRIES the leaves in a high temperature environment. This is done so that the moisture content in the tea comes down to 2.5% to 3%. In turn the color of the leaves turn from brown to black. This step also helps prolong the life of the tea and makes it possible for us to store teas months after it is manufactured.
Once the leaves have dried, they are taken to the sorting machine. Think of the sorting machine as a big net or a sieve with different size holes at different intervals. So once the dried leaves are run on the sorter, the leaves get segregated into groups according to the size of the leaves. The teas are then graded according to the different industry grades that rate how the tea visually looks depending on how much whole leaf, golden tips and broken leaves end up in the lot. These grading systems don’t necessarily determine quality though. The best measure of quality is how the final tea tastes.