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TEA PRODUCTION PROCESS
IN SRI LANKA
Production Process & Technology
Department of Town & Country Planning
University of Moratuwa
Registration Number: 102353B
I heartily thank our lecturer
Mr. K.D.Fernando who has taught us this subject
Perfectly and explained all the aspects till we understood fully;
I thank him once again
For explaining all the questions in the assignment
by briefing and guiding us.
I must thanks
My parents for their kind help to prepare this report for production process technology
My thanks go to
Manager of Hingalgoda Tea Factory
Mr. Dulip Karunadasa.
Finally thank goes to
Who help to prepare this report & module works in any way.
Background of tea industry in Sri Lanka 2-4
Orthodox tea production process 5-9
cfm - Cubic feet per minutes
ft. - feet
cft - cubic feet
Kg - kilo gram
min. – minutes
CTC- cut tear & curl
OP – Orange Pekoe
FBOPF – Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning
According to the module of Production Process Technology we study about few production
processes in Sri Lanka
In this report I explain about tea manufacturing process in Sri Lanka; I selected only
ORTHODOX TEA PRODUCTION PROCESS
for this study.
First I collected data related to tea industry in Sri Lanka by websites & then I went to see tea
manufacturing process inside the tea factory.
Through my observations, prepare this report.
In this report I include Background of the Tea Industry in Sri Lanka, ORTHODOX Tea
Production Process in step by step, Market for the final output of this process.
This information I present in the form of descriptions, photographs & maps.
I think this report will be able to give a brief idea about the ORTHODOX Tea Production
Process in Sri Lanka.
Background of the Tea Industry in Sri Lanka
According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, scholar and
herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. A leaf from
the tree dropped in to the water and Shen Nung decided to try the new brew. The tree
was a wild tea tree.
Tea is globally one of the most popular & lower cost beverages & it is consumed by a wide
range of age groups. Even though tea is not indigenous to Sri Lanka & it is an area where the
country can take a lot of pride. Tea industry has dominated history.
In 1824 a tea plant (Camellia Sinesis) was brought from China by
the British and planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens,
Peradeniya, Ceylon. In 1867 A Scot named James Taylor planted
the first 19 acres of tea in Loolecondra Estate near Kandy, Ceylon,
marking the birth of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Taylor had acquired
some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India and made
some initial experiments in manufacture, using his bungalow
verandah as the factory and rolling the leaf by hand on tables.
Firing of the oxidized leaf was carried out on clay stoves over
charcoal fires with the leaf on wire trays. His first teas were sold
locally and were declared delicious. By 1872, Taylor had a fully
equipped factory, and, in 1873, his first quality teas were sold for
a very good price at the London auction. Through his dedication
and determination, Taylor was largely responsible for the early
success of the tea crop in Ceylon. Between 1873 and 1880,
production rose from just 23 pounds to 81.3 tons, and by 1890, to
Most of the Ceylon tea gardens are situated at elevations between 3,000 and 8,000 feet in
two areas of the southwestern part of the island, to the east of Colombo and in the Galle
district on the southern point. In the hot, steamy plains and foothills, the tea bushes flush
every seven or eight days and are picked all year round. The finest teas are gathered from
late June to the end of August in eastern districts and from the beginning of February to
mid-March in the western parts.
Until 1971, more than 80 percent of the island’s tea estates were owned and managed by
British companies. In 1971, the Sri Lankan government introduced a Land Reform Act which
gave the state control of the majority of the plantations leaving about one-third in private
hands. Since 1990, a restructuring program has been going on to involve the private sector
companies (both Sri Lankan and foreign) as Managing Agents of the state-owned
plantations. The long-term aim is for the private managing companies to take on most, if not
all, of the financial responsibility and control of the estates, with the government retaining
Extreme political, industrial, and economic problems over the past
years have meant that Sri Lanka has fallen from the position of
number one producer in the world to number eight in 1993.
Producers have to face major decisions regarding production
methods, product range, and export markets. Although the U.K
was once Sri Lanka’s biggest customer, almost 70 percent of
production now goes to Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
The Arab market used to prefer orthodox teas but consumers
there are steadily moving towards European tastes and are
demanding more tea in tea bags. Sri Lanka’s fine orthodox teas, considered by many to be
among the best tea in the world, are not suitable for tea bags. Only 3 percent of production
in 1993 was CTC and producers have to decide whether to convert to CTC production in
order to reach a wider market. Some manufacturers think that there will always be a market
for the orthodox teas; others think that CTC is the best way forward. New customers are
also being sought for the increasing range of packet tea in sachets, cartons, economy packs,
reed ware, basket packs, soft wood boxes, tins, and canisters that are now available.
Products containing 100 percent Ceylon tea are now using the Lion logo, developed by the
Ceylon Tea Board that guarantees the country of origin and protects the image of Sri Lanka’s
There are six main tea producing areas. Galle, to the south of the island; Ratnapura,
about 55 miles east of the capital Colombo; Kandy, the low region near the ancient royal
capital; Nuwara Eliya, the highest area that produces the finest tea; Dimbula, west of the
central mountains; and Uva, located east of Dimbula.
Location map of tea producing regions in Sri Lanka
This is the brief history of tea production process & it is the main agricultural production in
Sri Lanka from starting point to now.
Before the Production process
The process of manufacture commences when the leaves are picked or ‘plucked’. Plucking
calls for discrimination and dexterity and is carried out mainly by women. Only the
uppermost foliage on every stem is picked the famous ‘two leaves and a bud’ and the stem
itself must be left undamaged. On arrival at the factory, the raw leaf is weighed. The total
weight recorded for the day’s batch provides a benchmark for quality assessment at the end
of the process of manufacture. After weighing, the tea is laid out for withering.
There are mainly three types of tea production process in Sri Lanka. That are;
Orthodox tea production process
CTC tea production process (cut, tear and curl)
Green tea production process
ORTHODOX Tea Production Process
In tea manufacturing process mainly use leaf of Camellia Sinensis tree as a main input. As
well as manufactures use wood, electricity, labour as other inputs of this process. There are
several steps of this production process.
First step of this process is withering. In this process manufactures expect to remove around
45% of water from green leaves. For that there is special equipment called “Withering
Trough”. In here they use hot & cool air with high speed fan. Normally the length of a
withering trough is 80ft width is 6ft & 1ft depth. In those withering through manufactures
spread 2.5kg green leaves in 1cft. So capacity of withering through is 80*6*1*2.5*= 1200kg
To take even wither need 20cfm air per 1kg of green leaves. Therefore
20cfm*1200kg=24000cfm air need for 80ft withering trough.
In this step few chemical changes also happen in the green leaves. Those are;
Activate polyphenol oxidase enzymes
Convert protein in to amino-acid
Increase glucose amount etc.
This is the second step of tea manufacturing process. For this they use tea rollers & roll
breakers. In this step manufactures feed around 275kg withered leaves in to a roller & start
rolling for 15to 20 min. This step called 1st
When working these rollers withered leaves subjected to roll & separate in to small
particles. After 15 to 20 min. those leaves discharge from roller & put in to a roll breaker.
Roll breakers use to separate small particles from the bulk by using a mesh. Large particles
feed again in to a roller & start rolling again 15 to 20 min. This step called as second rolling.
Again particles put in to roll breaker & separate small particles & large particles again put in
to a roller. This process is going up to 4th
During this critical stage of manufacture, important chemical reactions take place through
the action of air on the leaf tissue. In this step small particles which separated through roll
breakers store in fermentation beds. These leaf particles keep 2 to 3 hours on fermentation
beds to mix with O2. In this stage leaves colour change in to brown after around 2hours.
Fermentation is also sometimes known as ‘aeration’ or ‘oxidation’.
For this process factory used fire wood tea dryers. Fermented leaf particles feed in to this
dryer. There should be 220o
f keep in this dryer to prevent further chemical changes. Leaf
particles circulate around 20 min. tea dryer produce black tea, this completes the actual
This is the very complex stage in tea production process. There are three types of tea
According to size
According to weight
According to colour
Grading according to sizes
In the tea factory they use various kind of machine that fixes various sizes of mashes for
separate tea particles according to sizes. Middle turn Michesifter, Chotasifter are few
machines use to sort tea according to sizes.
Grading according to weight
They use suction winnower for tea grading according to weight.
Grading according to colour
For this process they use very expensive machine call colour sorter to separate tea
according to colour.
The final step of tea manufacturing process is packing. They use paper sacks to pack their
different type of tea grades. For one dispatch factory can include 10, 20 or 40 bags in each
grade by same weight. As an example;
Tea Grade Bags Weight of one bag Total weight
OP 20 26kg 520kg
FBOPF 10 40kg 400kg
Pekoe 40 38kg 1520kg
All these packed tea transport to Colombo tea auction through tea brokers. The finished
product is shipped in bulk to mainly to Europe, the middle-east, Australia, and North
America. Only the best tea is exported. Unfortunately once it leaves Sri Lanka it is mixed
with lower quality and cheaper produce from the African countries and India.
Reasons for tea production limitation in Sri Lanka
Restriction in land area
Comparatively low yield
High cost of production or low returns
Low investment in re planting or infilling
Slow factory Modernization
Impact of irregular weather patterns
Tea is globally one of the most popular & lower cost beverages & it is consumed by a wide
range of age groups. The tea industry targets the both local & global market.
Local market- Tea industry targets the existing local tea drinkers, providing them with
something new & attractive, with a great aroma & taste. Thus the industry tries to make
profit through customer satisfaction & also to make a good profit.
Global industry- Tea exports to foreign countries to earn foreign currency.
Tea Production Process & industry in Sri Lanka
Tea can use as row material in some chemical industry & some medical industry, As well as
tea is using as colouring in some industry as row materials. So we can tell black tea is one of
final production as well as it can use as intermediate production.
Sri Lanka Tea Board (http://www.pureceylontea.com)
History of Tea Industry in Sri Lanka (http://www.teaz.co.nz)
The Story of Ceylon Tea (http://www.angelfire.com)
Orthodox Tea Production Process- Manager of Hingalgoda Tea Factory