In March 2011 we visited the organic tea gardens of our white tea and bailin gongfu black tea supplier in Fujian.
At that time it was early spring, so the tea was only just starting it's Spring growth. We decided to head back there again in April, to check out the farm when the tea was harvested and also to look at their processing, which wasn't in action on our earlier trip.
The difference now was amazing, with everything green and growing.
White tea can only be picked by hand, especially for Silver Needle, because it is only made up of the new, fragile, tea leaf buds. It takes over 60,000 buds to make 500g (a bit over 1lb) of Silver Needle tea!
The tea you drink from us may have been picked by this happy, hardworking woman. She has been working at the farm for over 8 years!
The tea pickers are everywhere. Much of the tea the company makes must be picked only within a very short time, only when the weather complies, to ensure the buds are not too old, too dry or too wet. So when the time is right, there are a swarm of people picking the tea.
The first step after the buds and leaves are picked is to wither them in the sun.
After sun withering, the tea is taken to a warmed, dark storeroom where it is further withered.
After withering, the tea is taken into their brand new processing area for drying.
The staff there constantly monitor ever step in the processing. The amount of attention to detail and the cleanliness of the area was amazing.
Here is a special section in the processing plant where they check the tea to make sure the teas don't contain any metal element.
In this room a team of people sort through the dried tea by hand, to select the correct buds and leaves for each tea.