Stay on a tea plantation in the Himalayas
Maximum Duration: 1 Year
Language Requirements: English
Location: Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
Accommodation: Rustic house on the plantation
Price: In Tab "Rate"
The commercial cultivation of tea in India was started in 1778 by the East India Company, led by the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks. Today, 89% of the world's tea production comes from the 3.376 billion kilograms (2005 data) from Asia; India, with 28%, is the world's largest producer of tea.
The tea plant is actually a tree that lives up to 100 years. If you do not support it, it is 12-15 meters high, but the plants are usually pruned to a height between 1 and 1.5 meters and shaped as a kind of bush, so that picking the leaves is easy. Due to permanent plucking, the bushes are permanently kept in the vegetative phase, ensuring sustainable harvesting. Depending on the season, every 9–13 days, the new-grown leaves and buds are usually plucked by women, based on the rule: "two leaves and a bud“, which means to pluck the two youngest leaves and one bud to ensure the best quality of tea. An experienced tea harvester plucks approximately 30 kg of tea leaves per day. To produce 1 kg of tea, 4 kg of tea leaves are needed. A single tea plant can produce 70 kg tea per year.
Teas are categorized into three main classes: Green tea is not oxidized, Oolong tea is partially oxidized and black tea is fully oxidized. A special feature is white tea and instant tea (water-soluble tea).
For the production of green tea, the freshly picked leaves are exposed to a high temperature to stop the oxidation. This is done with steam or by roasting in a pan. After the heat-induced inactivation of oxidation enzymes, the leaves are rolled and dried to a residual moisture content of 2.5-3%.
In the traditional production of Black tea, which accounts for about 76% of global tea production, tea leaves are picked through the 5 stages: first they must "wither" (withering) to be soft and tender. Then, they are spread on drying racks and dried under air blowing about 12-16 hours, thereby losing much of their moisture. The next step is called "maceration“ which has the purpose of breaking the leave's cells in order to make the cell sap get in contact with oxygen. For 45 minutes, the leaves are being rolled in several tandem rotary or reciprocating sifters. The next step is the fermentation for which the macerated leaves are spread in layers for 2 – 3 hours at a temperature of 25 – 30 degrees and moisture of 90%. During this process, the leave's colour changes from green to copper and develops the characteristic tea flavour. Afterwards, the tea leaves need to be dried again, which takes 10 – 25 minutes in modern drying machines. Finally, the tea particles need to be sorted into different categories of sizes and fibers and flakes need to be removed. That results in three grades of tea: complete leaves, broken leaves, and dust. Within these levels, experts make further differences. The levels do not define the quality of the tea.
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Maheshu (Shimla), Palampur, Dharamshala
In Rishikesh, there are a number of temples and ashrams (religious hostels), both historical and built in recent times. The city attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists, both from India, as well as from western countries. It is home to several yoga centers, in keeping with an age old tradition. Rishikesh therefore, has the reputation of being the "yoga capital" of the world. Hindus believe that meditation in Rishikesh, as well as a dip in the holy river Ganges, leads them closer to salvation (Moksha).
Our Coordinator in the Himalayas
Our coordinator in Maheshu, Dharamshala and Rishikesh is Vikas and his team from the Chrysalid Oudoor Camps. In Palampur, we work with Atul, a guide.