History of Indonesian Tea

Tea-producing plants (Camellia sinensis) first entered Indonesia in 1684, in the form of tea seeds (allegedly Sinensis tea) from Japan brought by a German national named Andreas Cleyer, and planted as ornamental plants in Batavia.

F. Valentijn, a monk, also reported in 1694, that he saw a Sinensis tea plant on the courtyard of the VOC governor general Camphuys in Batavia. In the 18th century, the establishment of tea processing (packaging) factories and supported by VOC began.

After the end of British rule in the archipelago, the Dutch East Indies government established the Bogor Botanical Gardens as a botanical garden (1817). In 1826 tea plants completed the collection of the Botanical Gardens, followed in 1827 at the Cisurupan Experimental Garden, Garut, West Java.

From here, a large-scale tea planting was tried in Wanayasa (Purwakarta) and the slopes of Raung Mountain (Banyuwangi). Because this experiment was considered successful, large scale plantations began pioneered by Jacobus Isidorus Lodewijk Levian Jacobson, a tea expert, in 1828 on Java.

This experiment happened during the reign of Governor-General van den Bosch. Tea became one of the plants involved in the Cultuurstelsel. Processed dried tea from Java was first received in Amsterdam in 1835. In the following year, privatisation of tea plantations was carried out. Assamica tea began to enter Indonesia (Java) imported from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1877, and was planted by R.E. Kerkhoven in Gambung Garden, West Java (now the location of the Tea and Quinine Research Center. Because it is very suitable and has a higher production, Sinensis tea plantations are gradually replaced with tea assamica, and since then tea plantations in Indonesia have expanded. In 1910 began the first tea plantations outside Java, namely in the Simalungun area, North Sumatra.

Bukit sari estate is known as "Citamboer" or Tjitamboer (during Dutch Colonialization age) which mean "The sound of Tamboer" (an Indonesian traditional percussion). It was named after the sounds made by the 100-200 m tall waterfall that flowing and dripped from the natural spring inside our farm.

These particular ±1400 hectares were established in the 1920s during the Dutch colonial age, and in 1943 it was transferred to the Indonesian Government and went privates. Finally, we brought them together under single ownership in 2003.

“How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?”

David McCullough

Tea Processing

Processing tea is a method that is applied to tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) which involves several stages, including drying to brewing tea. This types of tea are distinguished by the processing that goes through. In its most common form, tea processing involves oxidation of leaf tops, cessation of oxidation, tea formation and drying. From this stage, the degree of oxidation plays an important role in determining the taste of tea, with care and cutting of leaf shoots affecting flavour also play a role even though it is quite small.

Although each type of tea has different tastes, aromas, and forms, tea processing for all types of tea has a similar set of methods with slight variations:

Picking: Tea leaves, one bud and two shoots, picked from the Camellia sinensis bush twice a year at the beginning of spring and summer or the end of spring. Picking in autumn or winter is rarely done, although it can be possible when the season is possible. Picking is done by hand when the quality of tea is a priority, or when labour costs are not a problem. Picking by hand is done by grasping parallel to the beat of the wrist and without twisting or clamping because if the latter is done, it will reduce the quality of the leaves. Picking can also be done by machine, although more leaves will be damaged and partially wasted. It is also difficult to harvest tea with a machine on the slopes where tea is often planted.

Withering: Done to remove excess water from the leaves and allow as little oxidation as possible. Tea leaves can be dried in the sun or drained in soft windy rooms to reduce moisture. Leaves sometimes lose more than a quarter of their mass due to withering.

Crushing: To propel and accelerate the oxidation process, the leaves may be crushed by giving them a small impact on the basket or by rolling with heavy wheels. It also produces a little juice, which helps oxidize and improve the taste of tea.

Oxidation: For tea that requires oxidation, the leaves are left in the closed room where they soon become darker. In this stage, chlorophyll in the leaves is broken down enzymatically, and the tannins are removed and converted. In the tea industry, this process is called fermentation, although fermentation actually does not occur because this oxidative process does not generate energy (this step is also not triggered by microorganisms; in other tea processing steps - for example, storage - microorganisms can be used for fermentation).

Tea producers can choose when oxidation must be stopped. Oolong oxidation tea should occur 5-40%, in oolong tea that is brighter 60-70%, and in 100% black tea. Green-color removal: Another term shāqīng (殺青) is done to stop the oxidation of tea leaves at the expected level. This stage is destroyed by moderate heating, oxidative enzymes are inhibited, without damaging the taste of tea. Traditionally, tea leaves are roasted or steamed, but as technology advances, this stage is done by roasting inside the rotating drum. For black tea, this stage is done with drying.

Forming: The next stage is rolling to get an ergonomic Tea shape. It is usually done by placing it in a large garment bag, which is then pressed by hand or machine to form a lane. This winding action also causes some of the starch and juice from the inside to come out; this will enrich the taste of the tea. Tea lanes can be formed into other shapes, for example forming curly patterns, forming pellets, or rolled like balls and other expected shapes.

Drying: Drying is done as a "final stage" ahead of sales. This can be done in many ways, for example by roasting, drying, exhaling hot air, or baking it. However, roasting is the most common. Careful processing must be done so that the tea leaves are not too dry or even burnt.

Further processing: Although not always done, some teas require extra storage, second stage fermentation, or roasting to reach the potential of the drink.

"Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising."

Milton Hersey

Being Organic

How your food is grown or raised will have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

Organic product contains no pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat. Having Organic product means that you have saves your intestines from digesting all of the necessary unbroken chemicals.

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy, creating biodiversity for the Farm. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby Insects, birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.

Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.

"Save the Planet...Buy Organic"

Nancy Philips