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While visiting the tea growing area in the Western Ghats of India, we could see the harvesting and processing of the leaves from the tea trees. And yes, they are trees that are kept short for the production of leaves. The intensive labor of picking the leaves is only the first step in the process and helps to bring the wide variety of teas we savor.
Tea Plantations in the Western Ghats of IndiaWe visited the Tea Museum where we saw the manufacturing processTo bring us a wide variety of teas we all so enjoyAnd had a formal tea tasting experienceThen we  headed out into the tea plantation for an afternoon trekThe higher up the mountain, the better the quality of the teaTea plantations were spread along the hills of Kerala and the neighboring statesThe tea trees are kept short so the leaves are more easily harvestedEvery ten days the tea leaves are harvested from the treesOnly women harvest the leaves as they are thought to have the needed patienceThe women use large shears with a bag attached for collection of the leavesSometimes the women work by themselvesOther times the women work in groupsOnly the leaves from the top part of the tree are harvestedBut most often they work on the steep sides of the hillsThe roots of the tea trees are massive and go deep into the soilEach woman is expected to harvest 100 kilos of leaves per dayThe hot, hard work is broken with  breaks under the shade of the treesEvery chai walla had their own method of preparing the teaIt is part ceremony and part tradition