Posted in Kafevend Blog
Black tea was first developed by the Chinese centuries ago and was carefully made by hand throughout a succession of stages. However, once the British had established their own tea estates in their African, Indian and Sri Lankan colonies they began to work on ways of speeding up the process, which inevitably lead to mechanisation. By the 1860s they had developed what is known in the tea trade as orthodox production, a method that still accounts for around 10% of teas produced today. Although machinery plays an integral role, a high level of skill and expertise is still required and so the degree of control and fine tuning results in fine tasting and distinctive blends.
The pursuit of speed and economy didn't rest there though and approximately 90% of the tea we drink has been processed via the Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) method. It was in the early 1930s that William McKercher, looking for ways to increase productivity on his estate in India, took industrialisation further still with his development of CTC machinery; cylindrical rollers inset with small sharp teeth crush, tear and curl the tea leaves as they pass through. This is what gives the tea in our teabags its granular consistency. Although to begin with CTC was a useful way to deal with broken and lower quality leaf, it soon became the standard method for processing tea. Its advantage is that it produces homogeneous tea that transfers its colour and strength very quickly to the cup, thus making it ideal for use in teabags. The other obvious benefit is that the speedier processing and lower production costs translate to cheaper tea for sale in the shops.