From December to March, there is no tea production or tea picking and one would think everyone can go on holiday. But, it's quite the opposite as all the maintenance work, both in the fields and the factory, take place at this time of the year. We are also currently putting up a new factory at Khongea to support all the small growers in the region who sell their leaf to estates like us that have extra capacity. We called some of them for a meeting and discussion on the best practices to ensure we produce high-quality AND responsibly-grown tea. As we don’t have any control over how these small growers “grow” their tea, it's been very interesting interact with them and see how we can motivate them to follow the same good practices that we insist on within our own estates.
Freshly picked Moonshine leaves in the withering troughs!
Freshly picked Silver Needle buds! The buds appear green in colour because this photo is in the field right after the buds were plucked. It is after the buds are carefully dried for over 12 hours that they turn silver.
While this tea requires precise execution of cultivation and tea making processes, the most difficult step is plucking. Our most skilled pickers are called upon for plucking Silver Needles, as they are required to pluck only the bud and nothing else. While a plucker would pick about 8-12kg of leaf in a day, they only pluck about 150g of the buds.
In addition, we are only able to harvest these chunky buds for around 7 days in the entire year. The buds come from pruned bushes, that first bear leaf in April. After the first plucking, the buds become much smaller in size; not to the quality of the Glenburn Silver Needle.
This unique combination of art and science produces one of the rarest and most sought after