The freshly gathered shoots are collected and a method of withering, rolling fermenting and drying, produces the fine teas of India. Black tea makes up 98 percent of the international tea trade and is the familiar coloured tea, flavoured with a delicate aroma and should be without any bitterness. Green tea does not go through the fermenting process and the leaves are heated (roasted in an iron pan or steamed) to prevent fermentation. It makes a pale greenish-yellow tea, which is milder and slightly bitter.

In the final sorting or grading, tea acquires the colourful names that are used in the tea trade. They do not refer to the quality but to the size and appearance of the tea. There are two main grades – leaf and broken leaf.

  • Leaf grades: These have larger leaves and are classified as Orange Pekoe and Pekoe.
  • Broken leaf grades: Broken Orange Pekoe and Broken Pekoe.

Within the broken leaf type there are further divisions which include:

  • Fannings: All small leaf teas. They make stronger tea than broken leaves.
  • Dust: The smallest leaf particle size and it is certainly not “dust from the factory floor”.

It can take five years to train a tea tasterĂ­s palate capable of tasting one to three hundred teas in a day. People imagine that a tea taster drinks the liquid until he is awash with it, but, as in the case with wine tasting, this is not so. The taster will take a large spoonful of tea, suck the liquid onto the taste buds all over the tongue, savour it, and spit it out.

The process of blending takes place after further professional tasting. Usually a blend may be made up of different teas from various tea gardens. The blenderĂ­s expertise guarantees consistency – to ensure tea picked and packed throughout the year in different seasonal conditions does not vary in quality, aroma or taste.