What is the difference between CTC and Orthodox Tea?
If you asked us, the CTC-Orthodox divide is as stark as whittling is to sculpting! To be less abstract about it, Orthodox Teas are harvested in the traditional method, with trained professionals ensuring they extract the finest qualities of the leaf, every single step of the way. CTC teas, on the other hand, are produced to be sold in larger quantities, so there’s very little leeway for the meticulous and laborious process involved in Orthodox Teas. We could really go on all day about this, so we’ll leave you with this simple answer, and the tiniest request to try out our Orthodox Tea, which is a lot better at doing the talking!
What is whole leaf tea and what is broken leaf tea?
Did you know for the longest time, until the Ming Dynasty specifically, broken leaf tea was the norm? Broken leaf tea also lent itself well to the tea craze in Europe as it was easier to transport in large quantities. As the name suggests, broken leaf tea is tea that has been torn or broken, but is still in large enough pieces to be recognizable as pieces of leaf. This results in the tea needing less time to steep and a stronger brew in every cup! Whole leaf tea, on the other hand, preserves the entire leaf during production. This tea takes the longest to infuse and is often said to possess a quality and depth that other teas lack. Basically, it's the gold standard according to tea experts, but it's completely up to you as to which type of tea you prefer!
What are the benefits of drinking Tea?
A quick internet search will make out tea to be nothing short of a miracle leaf just waiting to overcome any malady you might put in its way! We’d like to think tea is miraculous indeed, but a recent study by Harvard wanted to put this to the test. They concluded that tea is a great source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress.
Several large, population-based studies show that people who regularly drink black or green tea may be less likely to have heart attacks and strokes. However, scientists are yet to figure if this is related more to the tea drinking or just other qualities that tea drinkers might possess! Ultimately, a cup of tea does make you feel good, and there have actually been studies that explain why.
How do you make a good cup of orthodox tea?
You might have been to tea tastings where the process of making a cup of tea is imbued with so much finesse that the ordeal might seem daunting! We’re here to say that tea is a fundamentally easy drink to brew, all it takes is some hot water, a kettle or infuser, and tea leaves. Really hard to go wrong with three elements right? For Peermade tea, boil the water, but not all the way until it is bubbling and infernal! Add tea leaves to your kettle or infuser and gently pour in the water. Now let it steep for about 3-5 minutes, this part is up to you and how strong a brew you’d like! While we encourage our tea to be had without any additives, we understand that many people like their tea with honey, sugar, milk, even spices. However, to really savour the qualities of Peermade, try it out straight from the kettle to the cup, we guarantee our liquor provides an interesting experience on it’s own two feet!
What are the characteristics unique to Peermade Tea?
Well, altitude matters when it comes to tea, it makes all the difference in some cases. Ours is a mid-grown tea, cultivated in a bio-diverse region that’s known for its unique properties. Peermade tea possesses an inherently strong liquor, a rich vibrant colour, a distinctive malty flavour and is extremely rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Tea, when cultivated in the orthodox fashion, takes on the character of the land from whence it sprung. We know Peermade, but we encourage people to try out a cup and tell us something we don’t know about ourselves!
What are the various stages in tea cultivation & production?
Given that the process of making a cup of tea is so simple, it’s somewhat mind-boggling to learn of the journey those tea leaves make all the way to your kitchen drawer. In the case of orthodox tea, even more so! Let’s quickly run you through the various stages, we’ll try and keep it simple!
Plucking: The leaves are plucked by tea-pickers, who are trained to discern and carefully pluck and preserve the leaves.
Withering: Freshly plucked tea leaves are spread and laid out indoors or to remove the moisture content. Withering is essential in keeping the leaf supple for the other processes it undergoes.
Rolling: After the withering, the tea leaves are rolled to the desired shape either by using machines or by hand-pressing.
Oxidizing: Oxidising is a process that helps the tea leaves attain their ultimate flavor, color , appearance and aroma. The level of oxidization determines or distinguishes different types of tea.
Drying: The oxidized teas are further dried in optimum temperature before they are sent for final packaging and transportation.
How Do You Grade Orthodox Tea?
A good portion, indeed an entire half of our factory, is dedicated to grading the leaf. So why is this process so important? On our tea tour, you might think that the tea leaves you see on the way are all rather similar looking. However, many, many different flavours and types of tea can be derived from these innocuous looking leaves. Grading is important because it allows us to classify and understand the various levels of expression and flavour of these tea leaves. Different countries have different methods of grading, some go numerically, in India we try to sort out the tea we process into categories like flowery orange pekoe, orange pekoe, tippy golden flowery orange pekoe, tippy golden flowery orange pekoe one, special finest tippy golden flowery orange pekoe one and much more. So how is the grading done at our factory? The really short answer is that teas are graded based on how intact the leaves are, how they are rolled and by the presence of and quality of the buds. But let’s get a little in-depth, we’ll try to keep this as simple as possible, in the hopes that you come over one day and see the magic for yourselves.
For orthodox teas, after the removal of stalks and fibre, it is fed to a Myddleton machine at the first stage. The spillover is next passed through a rotary hexagonal sifter or ghugi. Next, it is forwarded to the Arnott and Macintosh sorters for final sorting. The Arnotts break down the largest particles that we term as big bulk which is basically coarse leaf that cannot be broken down unlike tender leaf. We use Middleton bubble trays to extract stalk and fibre. Mickie Sifters, essentially a wire mesh with layers of netting, allows us to sift smaller particles through smaller holes is used to separate broken grades.A daniel sifter is also used to further sift broken grades into their many sub grades. It works on the same principle of a layered wire mesh.A ghugi/ rotary hexagonal sifter, which operates under the same wire mesh system, is used to separate whole leaf grades. Orange pekoe, flowery orange pekoe and so on!
As we mentioned earlier, there are multiple grades the tea is categorised into after this, and as we implore once again, do come to our estate to witness the magic firsthand.
What is Orange Pekoe?
Now we’re really heading into deep tea territory, so buckle up! Simply put, Orange Pekoe simply refers to the grading of a tea based on its origins. So for example, Flowery Orange Pekoe tea is made from the end bud and first leaf of each shoot, while Golden flowery orange pekoe is a flowery pekoe with golden tips, and Tippy golden flowery orange pekoe is an FOP with a large proportion of golden tips. Pretty simple right? Ok, we guess not. But before you dismiss our patterns of grading do sample these types of teas to know their distinct brilliance!
Where Is Tea From And How Did It Get To India?
The tale of tea is as alluring and often as mysterious as the product itself! However, we all know its origins, the story of tea begins in what is now China in 2737 B.C.E. when the Emperor Shen Nong supposedly accidentally brewed a cup!
Myths aside, the common consensus is that tea found its origins in China and was also consumed there for the longest time. If we indulge another myth, some say that the great Bodhidharma, an Indian origin Zen Buddhist hopped over to China to invent tea, as well as the martial arts! However, tea, as we know it, whether in a tea-bag or a glass of masala chai at the bus-stand, has shockingly recent origins.
Shocking why? Well, any Indian brought up in the last century or so would be hard-pressed to believe tea is “foreign” in any sense. Tea in India, begins with the British East India Company, who actually relied heavily on the Chinese at the outset for tea. Realising that trade with China for this increasingly popular product was simply not viable, the Company sent a man undercover to China, a botanist named Robert Fortune. He studied and effectively stole Chinese tea cultivation methods, in order to replicate them in India, a presidency of theirs at the time, where regulations on trade weren’t as strict as China.
Fortune came back, and the rest, as they say is history! Well, not quite, it would be charitable to say the English brought tea to India because of their fond feelings towards Indians, but that would be wrong. The Company eyed Europe for trade, where the tea craze took off soon after. It wasn’t until later that Indians started consuming tea in the industrial quantities they do now!
What are the ideal climatic conditions for Tea cultivation?
In some ways, a good tea requires a good monsoon, and as we know monsoons are something of a speciality to Asia. Tea needs high temperatures, long growing season and heavy rainfall help the growth of tea plants. A temperature of 21°C during the growing season of not less than eight months is ideal. Warm summers and frequent rains promote rapid leaf reproduction and increase the number of annual pickings. In India and Bangladesh, the highest yields are obtained from June to September when the weather is hot and rainy, but the best quality tea is derived from the earlier and later pickings when the climate is cooler and drier. This is why we often find tea estates in hill stations, where the weather is ideally suited for tea cultivation. There are also finer points about how the soil and climatic as well as bio-diversity of these regions affect the leaves, every terrain providing its own unique properties.