What is a tea plantation?

Loose leaf tea.

A tea plantation is a farm dedicated to growing varieties of camellia sinensis, the plant commonly known throughout the world as tea. The cultivation and sale of tea has become a worldwide practice, although some areas are better suited for cultivation than others, and it is generally considered a valuable commodity. Tea production usually takes place in several stages, including growing, harvesting, processing and selling. Plantations can maintain all processes beyond the growing and harvesting stages or sell the leaves to other companies for processing.

A cup of tea.

Tea cultivation requires adequate climate, soil conditions and rainfall levels for success, which limits the culture to several areas of the world, including parts of China and India. As a result, a tea plantation is usually situated within one of these regions. Tea leaves come in different varieties, which may or may not be grown separately. While some plantations mix several varieties during the growing process, others separate their tea crops during planting and any mixing is done during processing.

Green tea.

There are a few main varieties of tea leaves grown on a tea plantation. Green and black teas are generally the most common varieties. White and oolong teas are also often grown and sold. A tea plantation can be a large commercial operation or a small boutique farm. These smaller tea plantations focus their efforts on high-quality crops, which are coveted as specialty teas and therefore attract higher prices.

Tea plants, also known as camellia sinensis, are grown on a tea farm.

Lighter teas, such as the white and green varieties, are often picked from early or medium-growing leaves. Ripe leaves are often used to make oolong and black teas. Once picked, most tea leaves are fermented, which breaks down some chemicals in the leaves and produces other chemicals, such as caffeine. This fermentation process can take place on the tea plantation where the tea is grown or in a factory setting after the leaves are sold.

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Tea is grown, harvested and fermented on tea plantations.

Making tea involves taking the fermented leaves and putting them into a form that can be sold. This process can take place on a tea plantation, although it can also take place in separate facilities. Bulk teas are usually sold loose in bags, and single-serving teas are processed before being individually bagged. Various types of packaging processes are involved in tea making, depending on the variety and quantity available on a given plantation.

The tea production process is usually divided into stages in different facilities. One tea farm may sell its product to multiple facilities for use in different products, while others may sell to a specific customer. Tea plantations may also contain their own processing facilities as they can minimize costs and help ensure product quality.

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