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Tea Basics

Where Is It Grown?
Over 1,500 types of tea grow in over 25 different countries around the world. The main producers are Sri Lanka, India, China and Japan, as well as parts of Africa, South America, Indonesia and Turkey. Tea plants flourish in warm, moist climates and can grow 20 feet high if left unchecked. The finest tea, however, is grown in cooler climates, at high altitudes, with the tea plants trimmed to only three to four feet in height and width.

Tea leaves can be harvested a number of times throughout the year, with only the topmost two leaves and a bud being picked. Tea is a year-to-year commodity. Its flavor, quality and character are completely dependent on the region, altitude, type of soil and climate in which it is grown. It takes about four pounds of freshly picked tea leaves to produce one pound of dried tea.

Types of Tea
Tea can be grouped into three types, according to the degree of their oxidation or exposure to air:

  • Black - Black teas are by far the most widely consumed tea in the United States and are withered, rolled, sifted and oxidized until they turn a bright copper color.
  • Green/White Teas - Green tea is most popular in China and Japan and is not oxidized. White tea is also not oxidized.
  • Oolong - Oolong tea is semi-oxidized, its leaves turning a greenish brown.

Buying, Tasting and Blending
Tetley produces the perfect blend by finding the best teas from around the world. Buying agents participate in all the world's major auctions—including in Calcutta and Mombassa—and purchase more than two million pounds of tea a week. These teas may come from some 10,000 different estates. Before each auction, small samples of tea are sent to London for testing and grading by the buyers and blenders. As many as 30 of the finest teas from around the world are selected to give Tetley Tea its pure tea flavor.

The secret of producing the perfect cup of Tetley Tea is the expertise of a small team right at the heart of Tetley operations: our tea tasters and blenders. The way these professionals practice their art and develop their precise palate skills has changed very little in over 160 years. It still takes years of training and experience to be able to judge with complete accuracy up to 1,000 different tea samples a day, selecting only those that are right for the Tetley blend.

Blending is a critical—and precise—part of the manufacturing process. Tetley's steadfast commitment to quality ensures that its teas maintain a consistent flavor, aroma and color. Taking many years to master tea's intricacies, the most expert blender can detect minute differences and easily determine where a particular crop was grown, and usually on which estate.