A Tea Leaf’s Journey from Estate to Cup

As Kat’s morning cup of tea steeps, it puts me in mind of how easy it can be to take our tea for granted. It’s so easily accessible. A quick run to the market and you can grab any number of teas off the shelf! But just think. That tea began somewhere… most often it began thousands of miles away, growing happily on a tea estate. So how did it get from there to here?Estate to cup 3

For many of the teas you enjoy from your local grocery store, the journey begins with a company’s tea buyers working directly with specific estates and also through tea auctions.  The benefits to buying privately is not only managing requirements or specifications before the tea is made but also approving the tea before they are shipped.

When considering which teas to buy, there are a number of factors that may be taken into consideration. For example, flushes (distinct growing periods for bushes in a particular region) or growing regions.

The majority of grocery store tea manufacturers don’t rely on outside parties to approve the quality of teas. The approval process is taken very seriously and sensory analysis is performed on all the teas that are procured.

Once approved, teas are packed very carefully for their long journey.  Most commonly, they are packed in oxygen and moisture barrier, foil-layered paper sacks.  Regardless of origin, teas are shipped from a foreign port to a US dock.  On average, shipments take 45 days from dock to dock.  While the shortest trip is around 4 weeks, the longest is closer to 12 weeks! Quite a big journey for these little leaves!

You’ll notice a variety of tea blends on your grocery store shelves. Each blend is created by a blendmaster who picks the right ingredients and composition to establish the blend formula. The professional blenders work within the framework of the formula to issue batches to the production floor. Samples of each completed production blend are collected and evaluated by the approved tea taster before packaging to ensure the blends meet the blend’s specification. After the blend is approved, it is packaged to follow finished product’s specification. Each finished product is approved by the quality control department prior to releasing it to the warehouse.

Who knew the process was infused with such care and precision!

Kat is enjoying the most heavenly smelling tea this morning: Simply Balanced Organic White Tea Peach Honey. That peach fragrance infuses the warmth of spring and summer into my very being! She loves the how white tea is complemented (not overwhelmed) by the peach, with just the lighted finish of honey sweetness.

It’s quite the journey this tea has had: from the distant estate to Kat’s lovely tea cup. I must say, I’m glad it made the trip!

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