Why Wither Tea Leaves?



Tea is the most frequently consumed drink worldwide, next to the water. About 75% of the total world tea production includes black tea, and withering is one of the major processing steps critical for the quality of black tea. Plucking the leaf initiates the withering stage, in which the leaf becomes flaccid and loses water until, from a fresh moisture content of 74 to 83(seasonal variations will be there) percentage by weight; it arrives at a withered content of 55 to 70 percentage, depending upon the type of processing. In the traditional process, the fresh leaf is spread by hand in thin layers onto trays or sections of coarse fabric called tats. It is then allowed to wither for 12 to 20 hours, depending upon several factors that include the temperature and humidity of the air and the size and moisture content of the leaf. Withering in the open air has been replaced by various mechanized systems. In trough withering, air is forced through a thick layer of leaf on a mesh in a trough. Continuous withering machines move the leaf on conveyor belts and subject it to hot air in an enclosed chamber, discharging withered leaf while the fresh leaf is simultaneously loaded. the trough withering system is the most commonly used. Mainly two types of troughs, open trough and enclosed trough, are commonly used respectively.

loading the troughs Photo courtesy Google

In open troughs, leaves are spread at a particular thickness and air is blown in an upward direction from the bottom to the top layers, and in this way, the bottom layers of the leaves become withered. In order to minimize leaves handling and to reduce leaves damage by avoiding the leaves turning operation, the provision is made to move the fan both in forward and reverse directions. Therefore, the leaves in the upper layer also become withered as air is drawn into the leaf bed. However, during the reverse rotation, the fan efficiency is drastically reduced to about 60% as compared to the efficiency in the forward direction, thus consuming more power.In the case of using an enclosed trough, leaves are spread enclosed by the raised sides of the trough and a cover on top of the bed is used. In this system, a fan is forcing air only in the forward direction, and simultaneously air is passing through both the top and bottom of the leaves using a damper. As the handling of the leaves is less, the chances of leaves damage in enclosed troughs are much lower. In addition, the leaves do not get affected by the sudden variation in conditions of the outside environment. However, open troughs are still more popular in tea processing factories because they are more convenient for loading and unloading, and it is easier to inspect the progress of the withering process.

image courtesy Google

There are two types of tea withering methods: physical and chemical withering. During physical withering, tea shoots loose moisture content that drops from approximately 70-80% to 55-70% (wet basis). This leads to increased sap concentration in tea leaf cells, and turgid leaves become flaccid. It also prevents tea shoots from damage during maceration or rolling. During chemical withering, complex chemical compounds break down into simpler one’s volatile flavour compounds, amino acids, and simple sugars are formed. Withering increases enzymatic activities as well as the concentration of caffeine. Research indicates that about 15% of chlorophyll degradation occurs during withering. It is also reported that during withering lipids break down/degradation into simpler compounds( if the degradation is not complete, it results in “Pacha taint”). Improper withering can cause adverse effects on subsequent manufacturing operations, such as maceration, rolling, Oxidation, drying, and tea storage. Withering increases the hydrolytic activity due to water loss, which increases hydrolysis and tea extract activity. Ultimately, this activity catalyzes the oxidative reaction, which is mainly responsible for the quality of the product

We can conclude withering as freshly harvested leaves are conditioned physically and chemically for subsequent processing. There is no specified withering duration, but 12-20 hr is generally considered the optimum period. Proper and even withering of tea shoots greatly depends on the standards of plucking, handling, transportation, environmental conditions, time, and temperature. Thus, to ensure consumption of high-quality tea, the withering step must be monitored carefully.

If attempts are made to roll fresh leaf in the conventional tea roller without the normal withering preparation, it breaks up into small flakes and the resultant tea is unacceptable to the tea trade, or at least, they are not prepared to pay normal prices for such product. The juice from the broken leaf which contains the full content of moisture is diluted and drained away from the broken leaf very freely, introducing a practical difficulty and losing the potential strength of liquor. In spite of the mess and the loss of valuable juice the cells in the pieces of flake are not properly bruised and the flake does not ferment evenly. It is obvious, therefore, that since the conventional tea roller is designed to twist or wring juice out of tea leaf, the leaf must be conditioned to stand up to such treatment. The main objects of withering are, therefore, to reduce the moisture content of the leaf, to concentrate the juice, and bring the physical condition to a “rubbery” state in which it will stand twisting without breaking up into flakes.

One of the first essentials of withering is, therefore, to get a correct physical condition which will not only allow the leaf to be rolled without breaking up to quickly but which will also prevent the juice from running out of the leaf. The feel of a well-withered leaf is something like that of a crumpled soft handkerchief. It has a drooping appearance and lacks the lustre of fresh leaf. The stalks can also be bent without their breaking, and if the fingers are pressed into the leaf, the impression is clearly visible. The smell of the leaf is also a guide for judging the wither. These empirical methods are the best means of judging the extent of wither, cannot always be entirely depended upon.

The Main Factors that influence withering are:-

(a) The extent of damage to green leaf – damage tends to cause premature critical    changes and hence uneven withering. As a result of the cell constituents being mixed with the enzyme, premature Oxidation is started. The leaf which is damaged also dries out during withering and causes loss of both appearance and potential liquoring quality. A soft wither will help to minimize the effect, but it is virtually impossible to prevent it altogether. Blister blight causes the same mechanical damage and badly blistered leaf cannot be hard withered. Damaged leaf is easily recognized after withering by its discoloured appearance. The brownishness it acquires sometimes gives the impression that it is caused by too high a temperature, but that is generally not the case. If the leaf that is damaged is carefully examined it will be found that only those parts which have been bruised are affected. Undamaged leaf retains its green colour.
(b) The condition of the leaf received – coarse plucking results to slow withering leaves than fine plucking.  surface water content determines the degree of withering or time. Presence of moisture encourages bacterial growth which adversely affects final tea quality thus, the rapid removal of surface moisture is strongly recommended for wet leaf.
(c) Type of Leaf – Leaves from different fields may have different sizes and composition which may influence the rate of withering(Type of leaf or “Jat”, size of the leaf, and its general composition).
(d) The thickness of spread – Air flow rate depends on the thickness of spread of leaf, higher the thickness withering is slowed down (time to achieve the desired wither will be increased). Thick spreading also increases the unevenness of wither. Extremely thin spreading is wasteful in space and should be restored to only if conditions are unfavourable to the procuring of a wither in a reasonable time(during wet days it is sometimes necessitated). The deciding factor should be the drying capacity of the air used. The whole question of how thickly leaf should be spread depends on this. A fixed spreading rate cannot be adopted in any factory. Apart from the wide variation in the conditions of the leaf that is received, the lofts themselves do not provide completely uniform conditions for withering. Their position in relation to the direction of the wind and bulking chambers has to be carefully noted. Besides, airspeeds in Lofts are seldom uniform.
(e) Period of wither – This is governed to a large extent by the amount of crop, equipment, type of tea required and working hours. There is no such thing as a normal withering period. What is normal to one estate may be abnormal to another. Long withers give more coloury teas than short withers, and this colour is gained at the expense of quality. This is an established fact. The longer leaf is withered, the more quality is lost. Flavour reacts in similar manner. It is thus a simple matter in so far as colour, quality and flavour are concerned, to gain some control over these characteristics by varying the period of wither. It must be remembered, however, that temperature is inter-linked with the period. If quick withers are obtained by employing high temperatures, colour may be developed at the expenses of quality, the Low temperature in association with long periods of wither may have the same effect. The optimum period to be decided on must, therefore, be related to withering conditions and their influence on the finished product. When quality and flavour are at high level, there is no advantage in holding back a wither, but it should not be rushed. Flavoury teas can be produced in a withering period of as long as 20 hours. If it could be shortened without the use of heated air so much the better. When these to characteristics are virtually absent, withering can be prolonged, but should not exceed 48 hours because this may lead to sourness. If neither of these characteristics is marked a normal withering period of about 20 hours will probably give optimum results unless experience has shown that either extreme has been found to give the most satisfactory results.
(f) Drying capacity of Air – This factor embraces temperature, hygrometric difference, the volume of air and movement of air. If large volumes of moving air are supplied for withering, the necessity for very high temperatures does not arise, providing the hygrometric difference is large enough to wither the leaf to the degree necessary in manufacture. High temperature in withering are harmful to quality, This is another established fact, but the statement may be misleading unless the effect of both the dry and wet bulb temperatures is clearly understood.

Withering brings about biochemical changes in tea leaves. To acquire the improved aroma, flavour, and other benefits in black tea, the proper withering of leaves is exceedingly important.

Suggestions and comments are welcome to improve the article further.

Manoj. D. Archibald



Ref: (I). Monographs on tea production by E.L Keegel,1958,

(2). (Changes in enzyme activities (polyphenol oxidase and phenylalanine ammonia                 lyase) with type of tea leaf and during black tea manufacture and the effect of                    enzyme supplementation of dhool on black tea quality Author links open overlay                 panelRamaswamyRavichandran RamaswamyParthiban


Olive leaves, a symbol of peace


Let the aftertaste linger.
Let it stir your senses.
Let this be your escape. ~  Olitia


Out of all the herbal teas I have sampled and enjoyed, olive leaf Infusion is my true favorite, and for a couple of reasons.  I am little excited with the wonderful taste.

But before we get into the interesting health aspects, first let’s tackle what olive Infusion is…


Olitia’s  Olive tea is in a category of its own, and like Rooibos deserves a section of its own. It is truly a unique Infusion/ Herbal tea which I recommend my friends to try at least once above all!

The brew from olive Leaf is not steeped from little bits of fruity olives, but as its name states, is steeped from the leaves of this ancient tree.

Once the leaves are handpicked from the tree, they are carefully processed. Once processed, these leaves can stay fresh for up to one year so long as they are properly sealed and stored away from sunlight.


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Well, Olives, in general, are enjoyed throughout the world and for many years have had noted benefits. Olive oil is a top choice in culinary when baking, frying, or sautéing since it is one of the healthiest, and also enhances the flavor in foods it’s mixed with.

So, it does make perfect sense to utilize the leaves of this tree as well.

As with most herbal teas, it is easily prepared by bringing fresh water to a boil, let cool for a couple of seconds, then poured over the loose leaves/ or put your leaf bags in an infuser where it is left to steep for 4 to 5 minutes. This tea also comes in whole leaf size, as well as tea bags.

The taste of this tea is rewarding as well, almost everyone can enjoy its flavor! It is not very grassy, not at all bitter, smooth, slightly vegetal, anything else that is sometimes associated with some other teas. Olive leaf tea has a mild sweet aroma and pleasant taste along with other “olive-like” notes that treat the palate quite nicely. Its texture is like any other tea

Even when it is brewed from a tea bag it still obtains most of its flavor.


OLITIA is making 4 variants of Olive infusion:

1 EXOTICA: This is really amazing one with pure olive taste

2 LEMONGRASS: Olive leaf with pure organic lemongrass, this has smooth lemongrass flavor with olive taste

3. MINT: Mint flavor with Olive leaf

4: HOLY BASIL: This one is really holy !! A strong Basil flavor in the beginning and will take you to the world of olive taste

I rank these infusions in following order :-



3.    MINT



The Health Benefits Of Olive Leaf Infusion

Now let’s look at the other side olive tea is known for…its health benefits. (Source from various websites) Olive infusion has some tremendous therapeutic value. Rich of antioxidant, high level of calcium and vitamin C.

Some benefits of the Olive Leaf Tea are:

Combats Viruses, Inhibiting Them From Replicating
Helps Lower Cholesterol
Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Has Anti-Fungal Properties
Have Anti-Bacterial Properties
Helps Prevent Cold Sores And Herpes
Maintains A Strong And Balanced Immune System
Can Help Prevent Shingles
Fights The Common Cold And Flu Bugs

Conclusion…is the Olive Leaf Tea the Best “Herbal” Tea?

Well, that all depends on how you look at it. While olive leaf tea tastes great and offers many health benefits, it’s too early to tell if this will be the next green tea. I certainly hope so since the research looks promising, but at this time it still seems very young in the world of tea connoisseurs.

It also comes down to your own personal preferences. For me, a tea type should taste great and offer many varieties, all but one of which something olive tea lacks. Olivia overcomes that also by introducing 4 varieties, it is something that is truly unique, and that alone deserves a place in my tea cupboard any day.

Olive leaf tea can be brewed to your own taste. Steeping the leaves for a few minutes will provide you with a delicate, soft and satisfying cuppa, whilst leaving the leaves a little longer provides a stronger, more powerful infusion.

Historically, olive leaves are known as a symbol of peace, so it is not surprising that olive leaf tea provides a soothing, relaxing, gently mellow herbal brew that evokes a sense of wellbeing. Some lemon or honey enhances the flavor; it is excellent chilled and drunk over ice.

Although boiling dispels some of the volatile constituents, olive leaf provides most of the health benefits of olive leaf extract but in a milder way.

This may be a better starting option for people on medication. (Check with your doctor first).

Over time ease arthritic pain and in theory should provide the all-round benefits to the cardiovascular system that olive leaf extract does.


Although fairly well absorbed, concentrations of active ingredients are low and results typically take few weeks to show. A strong liquor for medicinal purposes will have a bitter taste. It can be made into iced tea with lemon to mask the taste if desired.



Photo courtesy Shinu Thomas

For more details and order please click here


Manoj. D. Archibald

The history of tea in Azerbaijan

The history of tea in Azerbaijan

The question of growing tea in the humid regions on the coast of Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea coast was first raised in the 1880s and 1890s; the Lenkeran-Astara region attracted attention and was assessed positively in terms of tea-growing.

M.O.Novoselov, a landowner, was the first practical planter of tea. Novoselov published an article in the journal “Russkiye subtropiki” (“Russian subtropics”) on tea and other subtropical plants in 1912, based on the results of his experiments in Lenkeran. He showed that conditions were right for growing tea in the region.

A scientific study on growing tea on the Caspian Sea coast was initiated in 1929, at the Lenkeran tea branch of the current Azerbaijan Institute of Gardening and Subtropical Plants.

Tea by decree

The first Government decree on developing tea production in the Lenkeran-Astara region was issued in 1931 and the establishment of the second tea producing base in the former Soviet Union began during that period. An independent “Azerbaijan chay” (“Azerbaijan tea”) trust was established in 1937 to manage the developing tea industry, particular attention being given to training local tea producing personnel abroad.

The USSR’s Cabinet of Ministers issued a decree “On measures to further develop the tea plant in the Azerbaijan SSR” on 7 May 1949. This decree instructed the rapid development of tea plantations in the Republic and a fundamental increase in the productivity of the tea plant.

Project institutions developed a programme of improvements which was considered and approved by the Technical-Economic Experts’ Council of the State Plan Committee of the Soviet Union in 1953. This was the first move to plan tea-growing facilities. The draft plan envisaged the drying of 36 thousand hectares of land and building a series of water reservoirs to establish irrigation networks in the Lenkeran-Astara region. As these measures were gradually implemented, the tea plantations were extended and tea leaf collection increased.

During the large-scale expansion of tea growing in Azerbaijan, there were fluctuations in the pace of development. However, it should be specifically mentioned that regular measures were taken from 1970-1980 to extend tea plantation fields, to improve agro-technical services, to establish a material-technical base, in particular, to improve water supplies and, in general, to intensify tea growing. During this period water reservoirs, the construction and operation of irrigation units in Lovain in Astara, in Khanbulanchay in Lenkeran and in Vileshchay of Masalli greatly improved the irrigation of the tea plantations. Besides, much has been done to restore sunken plantations and make more rational use of the land.

All this, including training personnel in tea-growing and improving the tea refining industry, has made tea-growing and tea-producing into a profitable area of agriculture. It became possible to increase the overall area of tea plantations to 13.4 thousand ha. and to produce over 34 million tons of tea leaves, out of which 9 thousand tons of quality Azerbaijan tea was produced. At the same time, 14 tea leaf refining factories and 2 tea weighing and packing factories were built, which allowed 45 thousand tons of green tea leaves to be refined annually. The tea leaf industry exceeded 64% efficiency. 65-70% of the country’s demand for dry tea was covered by local tea production. 65-70,000 people were involved in tea-growing and tea refining in the region.

Considering the high economic, social, consumption and ecological importance of tea-growing, the Government of Azerbaijan adopted a decree to improve tea-growing in 1987.

It was intended to expand the area of tea plantation by 7 thousand ha. – up to 21 thousand ha. – improve the tea industry and thus raise the production of green tea leaves to 80-90 thousand tons and the production of dry tea to 20-22 thousand tons by the beginning of 2000. In 2001-2002 it would have been possible fully meet the demand for dry tea from the country’s population with the local Azerbaijani black velvety tea. The socio-political events that took place in Azerbaijan from 1988-1994 (the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan – ed.) had a negative impact on tea production in the country as well as on other areas. On the eve of transferring tea-growing and tea refining to a market economy, there were a number of material-technical and organisational problems. And this had a negative impact on production.

In this situation, tea imports increased. However, the development of local tea-growing remained a most important issue.

The prospects

The revival of tea production in Azerbaijan is a focus for the current programme on food safety.

Observations prove that the Azerbaijani population ranks highest among tea-growing countries for its consumption of the product. About 2-2.5 kg of tea is consumed per capita, which is a large amount of dry tea for a country with a population of 9 million people. Tea holds an important place on the table of the Azerbaijan population as a strategic food. This is why the reputation of Azerbaijani tea should be restored and its applications should be extended.

Explorations carried out in the humid, subtropical Caspian Sea region of Lenkeran-Astara in 1980 revealed that more than 20 thousand ha. of land are needed to produce tea profitably. However, even in the good times only 13 thousand ha., or 65% of the amount necessary, was used for tea plantations. In the Zagatala-Balaken region of Azerbaijan, there is suitable soil for tea growing, out of which only 200 ha. was used for that purpose. This indicates the potential resources for tea-growing in the region.
Natural conditions

In Azerbaijan tea is mainly grown in the Lenkeran-Astara region. This is an area of some 5.33 thousand square km. and includes the districts of Astara, Lenkeran, Masalli, Lerik, Yardimli and Jalilabad. Tea is grown in the first four of these districts. The Lenkeran-Astara region is a humid, subtropical region. About 55% of the region is mountainous, the rest consisting of lowlands and plains. The region borders the Caspian Sea in the east, with Iran to the south, south-west and north-west. The region’s humid climate is due to the Caspian Sea to the east, the humid, subtropical areas of Iran in the south, the Talysh mountains and the coverage of vegetation. The region differs from other regions of the country in the richness, colour and variety of its flora. The Talysh chain of mountains has not undergone icing and has been covered by the unique Hirkan forest for some 70 million years. Unique, ancient species of plants are endemic and widespread here.

Recent explorations have revealed a very important agro-climate potential for tea plant on the southern hillsides of the Great Caucasus. These could be considered as a base for further extension of tea plantations in Azerbaijan in the future.

It would be worthwhile developing first a “Plan to revive and improve tea-growing in Azerbaijan” to provide for a revival and future improvement of tea-growing in Azerbaijan.

In this plan, special importance should be given to establishing an “Azerchay” working group, to establish the relevant financial foundation by involving foreign investors, providing low-interest loans, increasing the endurance of Azerbaijan tea in the face of competition etc.






The tea and coffee plantations at Manjolai Tea Estates, are situated in the Western Ghats in Ambasamudram taluk in Tirunelveli district. Spread over forest land measuring about 3,500 hectares, the plantations are owned by the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. They consist of a group of tea estates – Singampatti Group – which is divided into three units: Manjolai Estate (three divisions), Manimuthar estate (two divisions) and Oothu estate (two divisions). I am blessed to work in Singampatti Group late 1999 to early 2002



The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited (often simply called the “Bombay Burmah Trading Company”) was formed in 1863 by the Wallace Brothers. The Corporation was originally formed as a public company to engage in the Burmese tea business by taking over the assets in Burma of William Wallace. It is India’s second oldest publicly quoted company.

The Wallace Brothers were a Scottish merchant house in Edinburgh. The six brothers first arrived in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1840s to develop large Burmese operations. A Bombay partnership was formed in 1848 as “Wallace Bros & Co”. In the mid-1850s the Wallaces set up a business in Rangoon, shipping tea to Bombay. In 1862 The Wallace’s, who had been in partnership with and English merchant both in Bombay and in London, established their own partnership, Wallace Brothers, in London. In 1863  the business was floated as “The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation” (BBTC). Its equity was held by Indian merchants, as well as the Wallace Brothers who had the controlling interests. By the 1870s it was a leading producer of teak in Burma and Siam as well as having other interests in cotton, oil exploration and shipping.

British motivations for the third Anglo-Burmese War –  (The Third Anglo-Burmese War, also known as the Third Burma War, was a conflict that took place during 7–29 November 1885, with sporadic resistance and insurgency continuing into 1887.  Dates: 14 Nov 1885 – 27 Nov 1885 Result: End of the Konbaung Dynasty in Upper Burma. The province of Burma becomes part of British India. Continuation of resistance until 1895 (British victory)) –   were partly influenced by concerns of capitalism. The Burmese state’s conflict with the BBTC furnished British leaders with a pretext for conquest. By the 1880s Wallace Brothers had become a leading financial house in London. This firm was able to affect the intelligence about Burma and, more critically, about the growing French influence in the country.

The Vissanji family purchased the company from the Wallace brothers around the time of Indian independence. The BBTC acquired and merged in BCS Springs. Later, The BBTC was acquired by the Wadia group based in Bombay.

The 150-year-old Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited entered the plantation business in 1913. Today its plantations in the hills of South India cover 2,822 hectares under tea. These plantations are located in prime plantation areas, producing 8 million kgs of tea annually. Preserving the aroma, flavour and distinct taste of classic Indian tea, BBTC is one of the most experienced and highly respected business houses in the country. Operating for the last 150 years. The BBTCL was incorporated in 1863 and is the oldest Rupee company in India founded with public participation. As the name suggests, the company in its early years, dealt with the trading of timber from Burma (now Myanmar). It was not until 1913 that they turned their attention to tea plantations. After learning about the areas suitable for tea plantations in South India, BBTC decided to invest there and opened their first estates in the Anamallai hills of Coimbatore District in Tamil Nadu.
By 1926, BBTC established “The Mudis Group of Estates”, which today comprises of five Tea Estates and four factories having 1,863 hectares for tea plantation. It was also at this time that BBTC acquired land in the further south (at the tip of the Indian peninsular) and founded “The Singampatti Group” which today has three estates, covering 804 hectares and having three factories. In addition, BBTC, as popularly known in South India acquired Dunsandle Estate (155 hectares) in the Nilgiris, which is one of the earliest planted estates in South India. Today, BBTC has 2,822 hectares under tea and produce about 8 million kgs of tea annually.



Situated at the southern tip of the Western Ghats, just 40 miles from the cape of the peninsular, is the Singampatti Group of Estates of BBTCL. The estates nestled in the midst of a lush green rainforest, which stands untouched and pristine and is completely isolated. No other human habitation or industry exists in the area for miles around. The elevation of the three estates in the group range from 2,300 to 4,200 feet above sea level. The lowest is named Manjolai, which translates to ‘mango grove.’ The next estate is 10 kilometres away and 1,500 feet higher and is called Manimuttar (river of pearls) after the river that flows through it. The third, close to Manimuttar, is Oothu, which means ‘spring of water.


History says Its polygar belonged to the Siruthaali-Katti subcaste of the Maravar. According to tradition, the founder of the Singampati family was Apadhurhara Thevar, who on orders from the Pandyan ruler of the day, routed an invading Kannada army and, as a reward, was given possession of Singampati. The fifth in descent was made polygar of Singampati by Visvanatha Nayakar, the first king of Madurai. This palaiyam headed 24 palaiyams of 72 palaiyams of south Tamil Nadu (Undivided Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari)


Coalition with Puli Thevar in Poligar War

Singampati was one of the palaiyams that joined Pooli Thevan’s coalition in 1754-1761 (see Nerkattumseval). In 1766, it joined the insurrection led by the polegar of Kollamkondan after victories over the Anglo-Nawabi forces helped the revolt spread to other polygars. That same year, General Donald Campbell began a systematic campaign, taking the forts of the major confederates one by one, including Singampati. Anxious over Hyder Ali’s activities, however, Campbell settled the polegars’ revenue accounts and restored them to their possessions in 1767.

At the end of the First Polygar War in 1799, the polygar of Singampati surrendered one fort and 105 armed men to Major J. Bannerman. The palaiyam, which had been under the Company’s administration since 1798 and consisted of only one village at the time, was restored to its former chief, Polygar Nellakotti Thevar(Nallakutti Thevar), in 1801, at the conclusion of the Second Polegar War; it survived into the 19th century as a zamindari. The zamindari originally had an area of more than 90 sq. m., and included four villages.

Post-abolition of Zamindari – Singampatti currently comes under Ambasamudram Taluk of Tirunelveli District. Manjolai area is set deep within the Western Ghats within the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Tirunelveli District. Located on top of the Manimuthar Dam & the Manimuthar Water Falls, the Manjolai area comprises Tea Plantations, Small settlements around the tea plantations; Upper Kodaiyar Dam and a windy view point called Kuthiravetti The Tea Plantations and the whole of Manjolai Estates are tea operated by The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd on Forest Lands leased by the Singampatti Zamindar in 1929. The estates, road & the settlements in the Manjolai area are managed by Singampatti Group.

The BBTC entered the plantation business in 1913 and has been at the centre of one controversy or another from the time it acquired the forest land in 1929 on a 99-year lease under agreed conditions from the Singampatti Zemin. The company made a down payment of Rs.88 per hectare and agreed to pay an annual rent of Rs.4.32 per hectare. On February 19, 1952, the land was taken over from the ownership of the zamindar and vested with the Government under the Madras Estates Abolition Act, 1948. However, the Board of Revenue, in its proceedings of August 13, 1958, stated that although the company was not entitled to any rights in or to remain in possession of, the land leased out to it, on or after February 19, 1952, it could continue to use the land subject to certain additional conditions that were deemed necessary in the public interest. The conditions, which placed restrictions on the company in respect of clearing forests and selling timber, were modified whenever the need arose.

BBTC Oothu Estate is ISO 9002:2000 Certified. In 1988, when the idea of organic tea arose, it was natural to think of Singampatti. The isolation from external contamination was a contributing consideration, and the environment was the clinching factor.

From Tea to Organic Tea
Botanically Tea plants are the species of Camellia Sinensis or Thea Sinensis and organic tea is not a different plant but the cultivation process and natural treatment bring about a considerable difference. Organic tea cultures totally discard the flow of agrochemicals in the food chain.

Organic tea came into being by the philosophical views of Rudolf Steiner and later Lady Eve Balfour, who in the 1930s founded the Soil Association and encouraged the culture of organic and beverages in developing countries. Furthering this initiation we started organic tea cultures.

Organic cultivation is not just manpower intensive, but also taxing on the fertility front, where soil fertility has to be maintained without the use of chemicals. BBTC, therefore, made enriching composite on site, which when combined with oil seed cake acts as a banned fertiliser, improving soil condition and conservation. Vermiculture, nature’s own way of soil enrichment was used extensively.

Complete Organic Cultivation
Organic tea at Oothu is grown with absolutely no chemical input or artificial fertilisers. Nutrition is provided by the use of vermiculture and large scale application of compost and oil cakes. All pest and disease control is carried out by purely natural methods of cultivation. Today, Oothu Tea Estate produces 1million kgs of organic tea annually.

Tea appreciated the world over

In 1992, BBTC built a factory dedicated to the manufacture of organic tea at Oothu and today, both black and green tea are produced here. This production is carefully inspected and certified by The Institut Für Marktökologie, Switzerland, that is accredited to EEC and associate members of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The certification conforms to EEC regulations for production of organic


Mr.P.D. Jothikumar (Ex.VP. Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd) shared the following details with me “The lease from the zamindar was for little over 8200 acres. Initially, coffee and cardamom were planted with a small acreage of tea. Coffee did not fare well and was gradually replaced with tea.Oothu,  K.V and Kakachi and stream division of M.J.were originally planted with coffee. Once zamindari was abolished in the mid-fifties, the government became the owner. They allowed the corporation to continue the lease imposing some conditions. No.1 is leaving an area of about 1200 acres of cardamom abandoned to serve as a corridor for the migration of lion-tailed macaque. No.2 is not to have any activities in the Kusunguliar (Manimuttar falls)catchment area.The corporation agreed to these conditions and continuing the operations.Out of the original 8200 acres, only about 3500 acres were cleared for plantation work and the rest is undisturbed jungle even today.”


My sincere thanks to Mr. Ronne M Disawalla for the Guidance to make this article  https://www.facebook.com/ronnie.disawalla


Why the Difference Between Oxidation and Fermentation Matters

Why the Difference Between Oxidation and Fermentation Matters

The World Is a Tea Party Site

Having recently seen yet another article on oxidation versus fermentation as those terms related to the processing of tea leaves, we thought that not only should we repeat here the essential parts of our previous articles about those terms but also why the difference even matters. A lot of hair-splitting goes on in the tea world, such as how to spell pu-erh (with some insisting we should use “puer” or “pu’er” despite the negative impact on SEO and the total ho-hum response from our customers), but in this case, a whole wig is being split, and with good reason.

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