Involves planting of selected tea seedlings on prepared suitable land which is well maintained to ensure survival and proper establishment; fertilizer application, weed control and planned harvesting to realize optimum yields and sustainable environmental management systems.
Harvesting of green leaf is done through manual picking, shears and mechanical harvesting machines on an established harvesting rounds to achieve green leaf of acceptable standard through quality checks.
Transport of harvested green leaf from the field to the factory by use of four or seven ton lorries, and tractor towed trailers. Leaf should be delivered to the factory at most six hours after harvesting with a maximum temperature of 32oC.
The weighbridge clerk weighs the gross weight of green leaf on arrival and records. After offloading the green leaf in the reception bay the tare weight is taken to determine the net weight of green leaf purchased. The variance between field and factory weight should be ± 1.0%.
To ensure that the leaf meets company-set standards for quality products. Total acceptable (TA) 72% hand plucked leaf; 65% for SP leaf and 60% machine harvested leaf; temperature below 32oC. Leaf that does not meet the minimum leaf quality parameters is rejected by the factory.
To ensure that moisture content is 68 -69% and allow enough time for the necessary biochemical reaction. Duration between 12 and 18 hrs.
Withered leaf manually discharged by putting in polypropylene sacks of about 11kgs and conveying to CTC platform through a series of conveyors. Withered leaf is channeled through a weigh feeder for a through put of 5,000 kg per hour for three lines which can be varied depending on the number of processing lines
CTC~Crush, Tear and Curl
Withered leaf macerated through a rotorvane and subjected to four stages of CTC. Metals controlled by use of magnets and good manufacturing practices as prerequisite programmes. Product of CTC referred to as dhool.
The product from CTC (dhool) is conveyed through a perforated conveyor to allow for air supply to come into contact with the chemicals contained in tea (polyphenols) in a biochemical process that requires temperature range of 28oC to 22oC by use of continuous fermenting units (CFUs).Target moisture content of dhool at the end of fermentation is 66-68%.
To reduce dhool moisture content to about 3% within 25 minutes by use of fluidized bed dryers. This is achieved by use of hot air at various temperature ranges within the drier to produce black drier mouth teas. This is critical point no 1 under food safety management system.
Sorting & Binning
Removal of crude fibre and separation of various particles by use of fibrex rollers and vibroscreen machines. Metals controlled by use of magnets established as prerequisite programme. Sorted primary and secondary grades poured on designated bins prior to packing.
Packing & Dispatching
Binned teas discharged to packing area by use of conveyor belt and packed according to grades in paper sacks for primary grades and polypropylene bags for secondary grades. Final control points for metals by use of magnets as a critical control point No.2. Packed teas given invoice numbers for the appropriate marks. Dispatching of packed teas to Mombasa is done by use of contracted lorry transporters. All containers are inspected to conform to FSSC 22000 standard requirements prior to loading.