A Portuguese Tea Factory

“A woman is like a teabag – only in hot water do you realize how strong she is” – Nancy Reagan.

Tea

I found that quote interesting. And the subject of tea just so happens to be in relation to my visit to a tea factory in Portugal.

Tea_Field

Tea Field

When I was in the Azores, I got to see the only commercialized tea producer, ChΓ  Gorrena. The other one, Porto Fermoso, is non-commercialized and the owner apparently only does it for fun. It must be nice to have such hobbies, let alone the time to do it!

Cha_Gorreana

Cha Gorreana

Tea appeared in Portugal when some people brought seeds from Brazil and planted them. At first, the Portuguese didn’t know how to properly cultivate them so they were having a lot of trouble growing the plants. Thankfully, due to some Portuguese ties with Macau (an island not too far from Hong Kong that was colonized by the Portuguese), they were able to fly in some “tea experts” to teach them how to grow the plants and that’s when tea started to take off in Portugal.

Tea_Plant

Tea Plant

While I have seen tea fields before, I never knew that one plant could produce several types of teas. The top leaf of this particular plant produces orange pekoe, the second is just pekoe, and the third is broken leaf tea used to make iced tea.

Tea_diagram

Tea diagram

To gather the leaves, workers manually pluck them off of metre high bushes. It takes seven years for these bushes to grow before you can even use them for tea.

Tea_Field_Cha_Gorreana

Tea field of ChΓ  Gorreana

I can’t fully recall the full process, but the general idea is they separate the leaves, mix them with steam to avoid oxidation, dry them, and then make tea with them.

Back in the day with the older machinery,  only 60 teabags were produced per hour. With the newer technology that they use now, it has doubled production, making it 120 teabags per hour now.

I don’t know about you, but I love tea and this tour was enlightening. Now I have to add tea picking to my bucket list. Perhaps in my next visit to China. πŸ™‚

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