Agulhas Honeybush Tea – Processing of tea
Several stages are involved in the processing of our tea, before it is sold in bulk or as tea bags. Following harvesting, the material is transported to our processing facility and is cut into 1 mm (approximation) pieces. Up to this stage both the fermented tea and the green tea undergo the same process.
Normal fermented honeybush tea is made when the freshly chopped plant material is put into two huge stainless steel fermentation tanks. To initiate the fermenting process, only pure fountain water is added to the tea, inside these tanks. The tea is heated to ±70˚C and kept at this temperature for three days. Nothing else is added to this process and no run-off is produced during this process. During fermentation the colour of the plant material changes from green to brown. The fermentation tanks are rotated four times daily to ensure that the entire batch tea inside the tanks comes into contact with oxygen. After the third day, the tea is taken out of the fermentation tanks and sun dried on specially made drying beds.
When a batch green honeybush tea is made it also gets chopped, but it is immediately dried in the sun. Thus, the green honeybush tea doesn’t undergo the fermenting stage.
When both fermented and green tea are completely dried (<8% moisture) the raw material is sieved into four different cuts: tea dust, extra fine cut, fine cut, coarse cut and extra coarse cut. The tea dust has been used for extracts in the cosmetic industry or special tea cappuccino drinks, whereas the extra fine cut is used for tea bags. The coarse cut tea is sold as loose tea.