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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 IndiaTea plantations were spread along the hills of Kerala and the neighboring statesWe visited the Tea Museum where we saw the manufacturing processAnd 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 teaThe tea trees are kept short so the leaves are more easily harvestedOnly the leaves from the top part of the tree are harvestedThe roots of the tea trees are massive and go deep into the soilEvery 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 leavesEach woman is expected to harvest 100 kilos of leaves per dayThe hot, hard work is broken with  breaks under the shade of the treesSometimes the women work by themselvesOther times the women work in groupsBut most often they work on the steep sides of the hillsTo bring us a wide variety of teas we all so enjoyEvery chai walla had their own method of preparing the teaIt is part ceremony and part tradition