THE JOURNEY OF TEA
From the tea gardens where it's grown and plucked, the typical tea journey crosses thousands of miles and through many hands before reaching your home. Here is a simplified itinerary for the trip.
1. The first stop, often on the same property as the garden, is where the tea is dried, twisted, rolled, and graded - broken grades are 80% of the total crop. Some individuals and importers buy directly from this point.
2. Next, are the auction centers in major cities such as London and Calcutta. Samples are sent to buyers who bid on the teas they like.
3. Buyers ship to fill existing orders or warehouse the teas while they send samples to company packers or importers.
4. Importers receive shipment and sell to individuals, retailers, or company packers.
5. Company packers receive tea and:
a. Company tea tasters blend sometimes 20 or more teas together to maintain the company's flavors.
b. Loose teas are weighed and packed in quantities of 1/4 lb. or larger.
c. Dust is weighed and teabags are filled, sealed, get strings & tags, and packed.
d. Company packers may send teas direct to grocers but usually to wholesalers and jobbers who sell to chain stores, retailers, etc. Supermarket chains warehouse the teas until local stores need them.
Thus, the journey of the typical supermarket tea means that many months pass before the tea reaches your grocer.
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