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Citizens' Mail

Adding sugar in tea manufacture

I read with interest the article by Walter Wuthmann in the Daily News dated June 29. Having been a tea planter for over forty years and having obtained very good tea prices for the teas manufactured on the estates I was in charge, I would like to make a few notes on this subject.

The good tea prices I obtained was not by adding sugar or any other external agents but by getting a good standard of green leaf to the tea factory. The saying goes “Tea factory is to get a good standard of green leaf for manufacture. No Estate Superintendent or factory officer can make good tea with coarse green tea leaf. The green tea leaf arriving at the tea factory for manufacture should be 80% good tea leaf.

The green tea leaf should not be damaged or heated up in transport, and after weighing at the tea factory should be spread out in withering troughs or tats with minimal or no hot air being used for withering. Thereafter the withered leaf is fed into rollers, rolled for thirty minutes, sifted, fermented and fired in the drier. The fired tea is graded, packed and sent to the tea brokers for sale at the Weekly Tea Auction. This is a process known to every tea planter. If sugar is added this I believe is done to accelerate the fermentation of dhools before firing. This is like adding sugar to “Kasippu”. The accepted refuse tea percentage is 3 to 5% and not beyond. If as the Minister says it is 15% there is something radically going wrong. The maintenance of correct plucking rounds should be closely checked by the superintendent in-charge or proprietor of the estate.

Declining of tea yields due to not increasing tea extents

The TRI has given proper guidelines on these subjects. The correct procedure to be adopted to increase tea yields, the tea fields have to be catagorized into ‘A’ ‘B’ ‘C’ ‘D’.

‘A’ and ‘B’ category are fields with good yields but world require infilling. ‘C’ and ‘D’ category fields are low yielding fields that have to uprooted and re-planted with high yielding clonal tea. Uprooting will start with ‘D’ category fields and then ‘C’ category fields.

The tea bush will tell the tale

It was the late General Ranjan Wijeratne who was a reputed tea planter who later became Chairman of Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation who uttered the words “The tea bush will tell the tale” when he visited estates meaning the tea bushes will indicate to him whether the Superintendent was working on that estate or not.

Leslie Abeyasekera



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