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FEB 1 2 1975 

EB 1 1 1975 

Idec 4 m 



Curator of Economic Botany 



-EP 11 1937 

Leaflet 21 

UNIVERSITY OF 1' ' "'^^ 





The Botanical Leaflets of Field Museum are designed to give 
brief, non-technical accounts of various features of plant life, especially 
with reference to the botanical exhibits in Field Museum, and of the 
local flora of the Chicago region. 


No. 1. Figs $ .10 

No. 2. The Coco Palm 10 

No. 3. Wheat 10 

No. 4. Cacao 10 

No. 5. A Fossil Flower 10 

No. 6. The Cannon-ball Tree 10 

No. 7. Spring Wild Flowers 25 

No. 8. Spring and Early Summer Wild Flowers . . .25 

No. 9. Summer Wild Flowers 25 

No. 10. Autumn Flowers and Fruits 25 

No. 11. Common Trees (second edition) 25 

No. 12. Poison Ivy 15 

No. 13. Sugar and Sugar-making .25 

No. 14. Indian Corn 25 

No. 15. Spices and Condiments (second edition) ... .25 

No. 16. Fifty Common Plant Galls of the Chicago Area .25 

No. 17. Common Weeds 25 

No. 18. Common Mushrooms 50 

No. 19. Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers 25 

No. 20. House Plants 35 

No. 21. Tea 25 






From an exhibit in Field Museum 


SEP 11 1937 


Field Museum of Natural History 

Chicago, 1937 

Leaflet Number 21 
^ Copyright 1937 by Field Museum of Natural History 


-i TEA 

Tea is prepared from the young leaves of an evergreen 
shrub or small tree, native to the uplands of southeastern 
Asia's monsoon regions. In 1753, Linnaeus described the 
plant as a single species, Thea sinensis. Later, however, 
he recognized two species, Thea Bohea and Thea viridis, 
as cultivated in China, and it was long thought that these 
were the origin of black and green tea respectively. Most 
botanists now agree that there is only one species and 
that the various forms are varieties of it. 

When left to its natural habit of growth and not sub- 
jected to the repeated pruning necessary for the produc- 
tion of a size and shape convenient for plucking, the tea 
plant may attain the dimensions of a tree, 20 or 30 feet 
in height. Its leaves are elliptical-oblong or lanceolate- 
pointed, toothed along the margin except at the base, 
smooth on both sides, green, shining, and supported on 
short stalks. Oil glands present in the substance of the 
leaf contain an essential or volatile oil. The flowers, 
resembling those of the mock orange, are slightly fragrant, 
white or cream-colored, and appear solitary or in clusters 
of two or three in the axils of the leaves. The fruit is a 
3-celled capsule, usually with one large spherical seed in 
each rounded compartment. 

The tea plant thrives best in humid tropical or sub- 
tropical regions with high temperatures, a long growing 
season, and a heavy, well-distributed rainfall to ensure a 
continuous, rapid growth of new and tender shoots. It 
favors rocky, undulating tracts where water flows freely, 
yet without washing away the light, friable soil. 


4 Field Museum of Natural History 


Much controversy has arisen as to the original home 
of the tea plant, the point in question being whether it 
originated in China or in the neighboring Indian pro- 
vince of Assam. Some maintain that plants had been 
transported from India into China for cultivation; others 
believe that the tea plant was carried from China to India 
despite the fact that the shrub was discovered in 1823 
growing wild in northeastern India. The modern view 
is that the plant is indigenous to the hill-lands and moun- 
tains of southwestern China, northern Siam, upper Indo- 
China, eastern Burma, and Assam. 

Tea as a beverage had its genesis in China untold 
centuries ago, but its early history is lost in the obscurity 
of China's antiquity and for the most part is traditional. 
Probably it will never be known when tea was first used, 
nor how it was discovered that tea leaves could be treated 
to make a palatable beverage. The legendary origin of 
tea, according to Chinese sources, dates back to approxi- 
mately 2700 B.C. The earliest credible reference is con- 
tained in a Chinese dictionary of about A.D. 350. By the 
fifth century tea had become an article of trade in China 
and late in the sixth century the Chinese generally began 
to regard the beverage as something more than a medicinal 
drink. Contemporary Chinese records indicate that tea 
cultivation began in the interior province of Szechuan 
about A.D. 350, gradually extending down the Yangtze 
Valley to the seaboard provinces. 

After the cultivation had spread through the provinces, 
it came to the attention of travelers from other shores, 
and China became the fountain-head whence tea culture 
spread to other countries. The first of these was Japan. 
Knowledge of tea was probably introduced into that 
country, along with Chinese civilization and Buddhism, 
late in the sixth century. 

Tea-drinking is one of the customs that the West 
shares with the East, yet it was many centuries after tea 

Exhibit in Hall of Food Plants, Field Museum of Natural History 

6 Field Museum of Natural History 

had come into common use in the Orient that Europeans 
became familiar with it. The earliest known mention of 
tea (under the name Chai Catai, Tea of China) in 
European literature was made by Giambattista Ramusio 
(1485-1557), a Venetian author who published a collec- 
tion of narratives of voyages and discoveries. In 1595- 
96, a Dutch navigator, Jan Hugo van Linschooten, 
published an account of Japanese manners and customs, 
and their mode of drinking tea. The Dutch were the 
first to bring tea to Europe, in 1610. By 1640 the aris- 
tocracy of the Netherlands had begun to drink it and soon 
afterwards its use became general in that country. 

The earliest known reference to tea by an Englishman is 
found in a letter, dated June 27, 1615, from R. L. Wickham, 
agent for the East India Company at Firando (now 
Kyoto), Japan, to another agent of the company at 
Macao, China, requesting the latter to forward "a pot of 
the best sort of chaw," chaw being Chinese for tea. 
Samuel Pepys, the English diarist to whom we are indebted 
for many intimate glimpses of the customs of his time, 
wrote in 1660: "I did send for a cup of tee, a China drink 
of which I had never drunk before." Seventeenth- 
century records agree that the real introduction of tea 
into England began in the London coffee-houses and that 
about the middle of that century tea-drinking became 
known in England. As the eighteenth century progressed, 
its use spread rapidly and attempts were begun to establish 
plantations in northeastern India. The Dutch were rather 
earlier than the English in attempting tea plantations in 
the Far East, though without much success until the 
middle of the nineteenth century. 

The use of tea as a beverage was known to the American 
colonists who settled along the Atlantic seaboard. Al- 
though there are no records of its earliest use in America, 
it is probable that the custom was brought from the 
Netherlands about the middle of the seventeenth century. 
A few years after the close of the Seven Years' War (1756- 

Tea 7 

63), the British Parliament passed an act whereby duty 
was imposed on tea, as well as on other commodities 
imported into the American colonies. The colonists 
resented the imposition of such duties, showing their 
resentment by staging the famous Boston Tea Party in 
1773. This was followed by similar occurrences at other 
places, incidents in the chain of events culminating in the 
Declaration of Independence and the subsequent Revo- 
lutionary War. 


Although there are several grades of tea, the product 
placed on the market is derived from two main varieties: 
namely, the small-leaved Chinese shrub and the large- 
leaved Assam type. The Chinese variety is a small, 
hardy bush, capable of thriving under more severe climatic 
conditions than the more prolific Assam type, and is the 
variety commonly cultivated in China and Japan. The 
Assam type is larger, attaining tree dimensions if un- 
pruned, and with leaves from four to six inches or more 
in length. It is tender and requires a hot, moist, equable 
climate. It is the one most widely cultivated in India, 
Ceylon, and the Dutch East Indies. 

The quality of the prepared leaf is dependent upon 
the elevation at which it is grown, and the care taken in 
cultivation. The flavor is due to the essential or volatile 
oil in the leaf and is affected by the method of curing, 
but the stimulating quality is due to theine, which it 
contains. Theine is an alkaloid similar to that found in 
coffee, cocoa, and the cola-nut. Two main classes of 
processed tea are recognized: namely, black and green 
tea, the former being almost exclusively the product of 
India, Ceylon, the Dutch East Indies, and, to a less extent, 
China, while green tea is obtained mostly from China and 

In the manufacture of black tea the leaf is plucked 
and is allowed to wither and ferment for a definite period 
before it is rolled and dried, while in the processing of 

8 Field Museum of Natural History 

green tea the raw leaf is subjected to a period of great 
heat immediately after being harvested, to prevent fermen- 
tation. In this last method, the treated leaf retains the 
original color and flavor. The so-called oolong tea of 
Formosa is semi-fermented, the period of withering being 
considerably less than is required in the manufacture of 
black tea. 



For hundreds of years tea has been cultivated mostly 
in China where the larger part of the annual crop is used 
for domestic consumption. Because of its immense 
home market, China is a leader in tea acreage and 
production, although the exports have declined from 
first to fourth position. As in other branches of agricul- 
ture, the Chinese tea industry is a family affair and the 
gardens are mostly small patches, four or five acres in 
area, preferably on the south side of hill-slopes. The 
cultivation of tea is concentrated in those southwestern 
provinces bordering the Yangtze and from that river 
southward. The more severe climate of North China, 
its short growing season, and relatively low rainfall make 
that region unsatisfactory for the cultivation of tea. 

China produces both green and black tea, the former 
usually predominating in export trade in the ratio of 
about two to one. Green tea for shipment abroad origi- 
nates mostly in the provinces of Chekiang, Anhwei, 
Fukien, and Kiangsi, while black tea for export is grown 
principally in the provinces of Hunan and Hupeh. 
Hankow, on the Yangtze River and surrounded by a 
vast tea-growing area, is the largest tea market in China. 


Like China, Japan grows its tea mostly on small 
patches, one-quarter to one acre in area, in mountain 
foothills and terraced uplands. The crop is confined to 
central and southern Japan, and is especially concentrated 

Photograph courlety oj Underwood & Underwood 



10 Field Museum of Natural History 

on the Pacific Ocean side of the country, where there is 
more summer rainfall and more sunshine, where the grow- 
ing season is longer, and the winter temperatures are less 
severe than on the Japan Sea side. One of the most famous 
tea-producing areas is Shizuoka, southwest of Tokyo, and 
Shizuoka City is the principal center for the manufac- 
turing and exporting of tea in Japan. 

All the tea produced in Japan is of the green variety. 
It is estimated that there are approximately 120,000 acres 
under cultivation, and it is claimed that the tea from each 
district possesses individual character both as to the 
formation of the leaf and the quality of the brew. 

Unlike cultivation of tea in India or Ceylon, where 
plants grown from seeds are transplanted into rows, in 
Japan the seeds are allowed to grow into dense, rounded, 
hedge-like rows of bushes in the original soil in which they 
were placed. It takes about five years for the bushes to 
attain maturity, ready for plucking. The young leaves 
are picked in the early spring. This is known as the first 
crop and is regarded as possessing the best quality. The 
second crop is harvested about the middle of June until 
August, and the third crop from the middle of August 
to the end of September. 


The tea gardens of Formosa are concentrated on the 
terraced mountain slopes in the northern part of the 
island. Small tea gardens are the rule, although efforts 
have begun recently to establish large estates. Oolong 
tea, a semi-fermented product exported mostly to the 
United States, constitutes nearly two-thirds of the entire 
tea crop, and pouchong, a scented variety sold mostly 
in the markets of the Far East, forms the remaining 


The first practical suggestion for the establishment of 
tea plantations in India was made in 1788 by Sir Joseph 


12 Field Museum of Natural History 

Banks to the East India Company, but was not acted 
upon until 1833, when experimental stations were laid 
out in the Himalayan region, using seeds and plants im- 
ported from China. Soon after the experiments were 
initiated, attention was drawn to the fact that a tea 
plant had been found growing wild in Assam, northeastern 
India, and that this variety was probably more suited for 
cultivation than the Chinese. Although the plant assured 
an abundance of yield, it was regarded at that time as 
inferior to the Chinese variety. In 1837 and subsequent 
years extensive tracts were cleared in Assam for tea- 
growing, and the first consignment of the commodity was 
exported in 1838. 

In India there are two large, distinct, and widely 
separated tea regions, the larger of the two being in the 
province of Assam and in the Darjeeling area, province 
of Bengal, while the smaller region is in extreme south- 
western India. Besides these two regions, there are smaller 
areas in the northern hill country of Bihar and Orissa and 
others in the Himalayan foothills of the United Provinces 
and Punjab. The total area planted to tea in India is 
estimated to be approximately 707,700 acres and the 
crop is exclusively of the black variety. 

Tea-growing in India is done on large estates, measur- 
ing up to two thousand acres or more in area, and located 
on the plains as well as on hill-slopes. Each estate is a 
self-sufficient community, with its native village, where 
the laborers dwell, its hospital, school, tea factory, and 
homes for the white managerial staff. 


After India, Ceylon is the greatest exporter of tea, 
and it also specializes almost entirely in black tea. The 
story of the development of the tea industry in Ceylon 
is one of the most interesting in the history of planting. 
Up to the middle of the nineteenth century coffee-growing 
formed one of the principal industries of the island, but 

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14 Field Museum of Natural History 

in the 1860's a serious fungoid disease attacked the coffee 
bushes and in a few years it became evident that the in- 
dustry was doomed. The planters turned their attention 
to cacao, spices, and other crops, and it was subsequently 
found that the warm, damp climate of the island was 
eminently suited for the cultivation of tea. 

Ceylon's more tropical climate, with no distinct cool 
season and with abundant rainfall throughout the year, 
permits the tea bush to produce leaves throughout the 
entire year, in contrast to climatic conditions in north- 
eastern India, which allow plucking only from April to 
October or November. 

The tea gardens are equal in size to those in India and 
are concentrated mostly in the mountain and broken hill- 
country of south central Ceylon. The tea plant grows 
from almost sea level up to 7,000 feet, though most of 
the estates are situated at an altitude of 3,000 feet. As 
in India, there is a contrast in quality and quantity of 
the product at various elevations. Trees grown in the 
plains furnish a larger yield, but the leaves have no dis- 
tinctive flavor. The teas produced in the hill regions, 
where the growth of leaf is slower, are noted for their 


These islands are third in rank among the tea-exporting 
countries, their trade being mostly in black tea. 

In Java, tea is grown mostly in the volcanic mountain 
range of the western part of the island, where there is a 
heavy and well-distributed rainfall. Java is not so famous 
as Ceylon or India for its fine quality teas. This is due in 
part to the large amount of tea produced on small patches 
by the natives, although there are many large, scienti- 
fically managed estates. These small gardens are usually 
poorly cultivated and the leaves are not carefully picked. 

Sumatra is still in its infancy as a tea-producing coun- 
try, although plenty of suitable land is available for the 
cultivation of tea. 

Photograph eourtegy of Underwood & Underwood 



16 Field Museum of Natural History 


It is believed that the tea plant was first introduced 
into South Africa about 1850, but tea-growing on a large 
scale was not undertaken until about 1875. The most 
productive gardens are situated at an elevation of about 
1,000 feet on undulating, well-watered land. Recent 
developments in Nyasaland have proved that this part 
of South Africa is well suited for cultivation of tea. 

For several years prior to the World War, efforts 
were made by the Russian government and private 
individuals to establish a tea industry in the Caucasus, 
chiefly in Georgia. Small plantations, mostly in the 
experimental stage, exist also in the Fiji Islands, State 
of Johore in the Straits Settlements, Andamans, Burma, 
and Jamaica. Tea can be grown in some parts of the 
United States, such as South Carolina, but development 
of the industry here is prevented by the low cost of labor 
in Asia. 


When selecting a site for a plantation, the first con- 
sideration is the general lie of the land. The soil must 
be sufficiently drained, but not too steep for planting. 
Exposure to the prevailing winds must also be taken into 
account, as the crop makes very poor growth in a windy 

While tea is grown on a wide variety of soils, it thrives 
best in light friable loam, rich in organic matter, with 
porous subsoil to allow healthy development of the plant's 
taproot and to permit free percolation of water, for the 
tea plant is intolerant of stagnant water in the soil or 
subsoil. Undulating, well-watered tracts, where the water 
flows freely without serious soil erosion, represent the 
ideal conditions for the growing of tea. 


In establishing a large tea garden, as in India or in 
Ceylon, the first step is to clear the jungle growth of 

Tea 17 

bamboo, tall trees, and undergrowth. The virgin soil is 
then hoed thoroughly until it becomes well pulverized, 
and this forms the nursery for raising young plants to 
fill the garden and to replace old or diseased shrubs. The 
nursery is divided into a number of beds, each 4 or 5 
feet wide and separated by paths 13^ to 2 feet in width. 
Before planting, the seeds are placed in water to separate 
those that float from those that sink. The floaters usually 
do not germinate well nor do they produce vigorous seed- 
lings. The seeds are then planted from 4 to 8 inches apart 
and about 13^ inches below the surface of the soil, and 
are covered with thatch to prevent scorching of the plants 
by the sun. 

Meanwhile, the clearing of the future garden has been 
proceeding. The soil is hoed several times and marked 
out with stakes, about 4 feet apart, indicating the rows 
which are to receive the young plants. The saplings are 
removed from the nursery when about 12 inches high, 
and are planted in holes 18 to 20 inches deep. Normally, 
about 3,500 saplings are planted out to the acre. Old or 
unhealthy shrubs are weeded out every year and sup- 
planted by young, healthy plants. The soil around the 
base of the bush is hoed continuously to keep down the 
weeds, and at the same time food materials taken from 
the soil are returned by the decomposition of the weeds 
hoed into the soil. 

As the land is being cleared, it is necessary to cut 
drains, roads, and pathways. If the garden is situated 
on hillsides, terraces have to be built to prevent the 
washing away of the soil by heavy rains. The soil is 
analyzed and the necessary fertilizers are added. The 
bushes are sprayed at frequent intervals to keep them free 
from insect and fungoid diseases. Except at the higher 
elevations, it is the usual practice to grow tea under shade. 
The trees commonly used for this purpose are members 
of the bean family (Leguminosae), which are planted 
between the rows of tea bushes. 

18 Field Museum of Natural History 

In northern India, from one-third to one-half of the 
total number of bushes are pruned every year during the 
dry or cold season. The bushes are thus kept down to a 
convenient height and a broad surface is produced, giving 
the largest possible area for plucking. If allowed to attain 
too great a height, the bushes grow more slowly and 
consequently produce less leaf suitable for harvesting. 
Also, old bushes have to be pruned to remove snags and 
old wood. 


A period of four or five years must elapse before a 
bush is sufficiently mature to harvest the leaves. Once 
this maturity has been reached, a healthy bush will con- 
tinue to grow and yield indefinitely. The plucking or 
harvesting of the crop consists of removing the young 
shoots by breaking them off with the thumb and fore- 
finger. Picking is done mostly by women and children, 
the men being employed in tilling the land, digging and 
cleaning ditches, and building roadways. Each person 
carries a basket suspended on the back, so that the two 
hands are free for gathering leaves. On a normal day 
each person will pluck from fifty to eighty pounds of leaf. 
The work follows a definite cycle. If a very delicate 
quality of tea is required, only the bud and the two young- 
est leaves are picked, while another crop of new shoots 
will appear in eight or nine days ready for plucking. 

In Assam the bushes are first tipped or plucked in 
late March or early April, but the first real "flush" occurs 
in May and the second in June. This continues until 
November, but in Ceylon, southern India, and the Dutch 
East Indies, picking is continued throughout the year. 
The leaf collected is weighed two or three times a day, 
at a convenient place in the field or at the factory. After 
weighing, the leaf is spread out on bamboo mats for 
examination, and is then placed in large baskets or sheets 

Tea 19 

for transport to the factory, care being taken to prevent 
the leaves from heating in transit. 

In China the first picking occurs in April before the 
beginning of the spring rains, and this crop produces the 
best tea. The second crop is harvested in May and at 
this time the leaves are thicker and tougher so that the 
liquor brewed from them is stronger. Third and fourth 
pickings, harvested in August and September, furnish 
low-grade teas for domestic consumption. 

In Japan there are, as a rule, two crops each year, 
one in May and the second in the middle of June, after 
the rains; a third crop is sometimes obtained, but the 
quality of the leaf is poor. The bushes are pruned after 
the first crop, and again during the winter. 



On arrival at the factory the leaf is examined to elimi- 
nate stalks, coarse leaf, and foreign matter. The bulk is 
then weighed and taken into the withering-shed. 

Withering. — The initial, and a very important step 
in the manufacture of tea is withering, which is done in 
large lofts. These are long rooms, running the entire 
length of the upper floors of the building. They contain 
a series of racks, each with a large number of shelves 
made of jute cloth stretched over wires. These racks are 
set 4 or 5 inches apart to allow free passage of air between 

On arrival at the lofts the leaves are spread evenly and 
thinly on the racks, which are exposed to the outside air. 
The necessity for withering lies in the fact that the leaf 
must be in a flaccid or soft state, so that the alkaloid 
present may be released during the subsequent process 
of rolling. To make this possible, the water content in 
the leaf, which may run as high as 55 per cent, must be 
evaporated. Under normal conditions, 24 hours is suffi- 
cient for proper withering. 

20 Field Museum of Natural History 

Rolling. — After the withering is completed, the dried 
leaf is sent through chutes into the rolling room. The 
object of rolling is to crush and twist the leaves, thereby 
breaking up the cells in the leaf and releasing the juices 
which contain theine. The machine used for this purpose 
resembles an old-fashioned grinding mill. 

Rolling usually occupies about 3 hours, divided into 
5 or 6 periods of 30 minutes each. During the first two 
rolls no pressure is put on the leaf, but in the succeeding 
rolls the pressure is gradually increased. After each roll 
the leaf is put into a "roll-breaker" machine, which moves 
in an oscillating manner. The object of this is to disperse 
the lumps of leaves which have formed during the process 
of rolling. 

Fermenting. — ^After the final roll, the leaf is removed 
to the fermenting room, where the temperature is always 
kept many degrees lower than in other parts of the factory. 
This room is usually roofed with galvanized iron sheets, 
over which water is run continuously; inside are hung 
jute curtains through which water is allowed to percolate 
in order to ensure sufficient moisture in the air, and the 
windows are covered so that no direct rays can enter. 

The leaf is spread to a depth of about 3^ inch on the 
floor, on glass or concrete tables, or on shelves. When 
the leaf is first spread the color is greenish brown, but 
as fermentation or oxidation proceeds it gradually be- 
comes darker, owing to chemical changes. When complete 
fermentation has taken place the leaf is a rich golden 
brown and has a pleasing aroma. As in the case of 
withering, the period of fermentation varies, but, depend- 
ing on weather conditions, from 4 to 43^ hours is usually 

Firing. — ^After fermentation has been completed, the 
leaf is taken to the drying room and placed in firing 
machines or driers, resembling large ovens. The principle 
involved is to pass hot air through or over the fermented 
leaf. Cold air from the outside is drawn through the back of 


22 Field Museum of Natural History 

the drier and passes through pipes to the bottom part 
containing the trays, below which is the furnace. The 
leaf is spread thinly on a chain of trays and conveyed 
through the hot air chambers, in which the temperature 
is increased gradually to 220° F. The average time 
necessary for firing is about 25 minutes. 

After this period of drying, the treated tea leaf is deep 
black and the moisture content has been reduced to about 
S per cent, but after standing for some time in bins 
awaiting packing, moisture accumulates from the air and 
may increase to 6 per cent. 

Tasting. — At different intervals during the process of 
firing, samples of tea are taken from the drying machine. 
A series of pots and cups is laid out on a counter. A tiny 
quantity of each grade of tea is selected for examination 
and placed in separate pots, to which is added water that 
has just been brought to the boiling point. The infusions 
are then allowed to brew for 5 or 6 minutes and the liquors 
are strained into cups. The infused leaf resting on the 
inverted lid is placed immediately in front of the cup 
containing the brew or liquor. The method of tasting 
involves examination of the dry or unused leaf, flavor of 
the liquor, and inspection of the infused leaf, which should 
be bright red if properly prepared. 

Grading. — After removal from the firing machine, the 
manufactured tea is stacked in heaps on the floor of the 
grading and packing room, for the removal of stalks and 
coarse or improperly treated leaves. 

The tea is then sifted into grades by a machine con- 
sisting of a series of moving sieves of different sizes of 
mesh. The resulting sif tings are known as "unbroken 
teas," Flowery Orange Pekoe, Orange Pekoe, and Pekoe 
No. 1. The first-mentioned is regarded as the finest 
quality. The coarser tea which does not pass through 
the meshes is transferred to a "breaking machine" to be 
broken up and again sifted, the products being known as 
Broken Orange Pekoe, Pekoe No. 2, etc. The tea dust 

Tea 23 

which accumulates during these processes is kept separate 
from the better qualities, and shipped as "Dust" and 

Packing. — ^After the tea has been sorted, the different 
grades are stored in separate air-tight bins, where they 
remain until a sufficient quantity of the required size 
has accumulated. The whole of each grade is carefully 
mixed to ensure that the quality is uniform throughout, 
and is then packed in lead-lined chests, each containing 
about 100 pounds. The packed chests are marked with the 
name of the estate and grade of the contents, and loaded 
in bullock carts, on trucks, or on the backs of elephants 
for transit to the railway to be sent to the nearest 
port, such as Calcutta in India or Colombo in Ceylon. 


In China the manufacture of green tea is mostly by 
hand. When mature, the leaves are picked, usually by 
women and girls, and the quantity collected is taken to 
the factory, which is centrally located. As the leaves 
are brought in from the gardens, each parcel is placed in 
pans over fire to seal the pores in the leaves and thus 
prevent fermentation. The leaves are stirred to ensure 
that the moisture present is evaporated. Stalks and 
impurities are then removed and the leaves are again 
placed in the heated pans and stirred in a circular fashion. 
The leaves are then spread out on tables and rolled by 
hand lengthwise or into balls. After further firing, the 
tea is ready to be sorted out in various grades, by winnow- 
ing or sifting, and is then packed in air-tight chests to be 
transported down river to the nearest port. 

There are two main grades of Chinese green tea, de- 
pending upon the appearance of the leaf. Those rolled 
between the palms of the hands into small rounded balls 
are known as "Gun-powder" and "Imperials"; and leaves 
rolled lengthwise furnish what is known as "Young Hyson" 
and "Hyson" tea. 

24 Field Museum of Natural History 

The tea manufactured in Japan is mostly green or 
unfermented. As soon as the leaves are brought into the 
factory, they are steamed or heated to dry up the natural 
sap and prevent oxidation or fermentation. After this 
treatment, the leaf is still soft and pliable, and is then 
rolled either by hand or by machinery. 

The tea is still in the raw leaf or crude stage and must 
be subjected to further firing. There are two ways of 
final curing. The first is by heating the tea in long rows 
of pans operated by machinery, in which are wire brushes 
that continually turn over the leaves in the pans. 

There are two rows of these pans, one above the other, 
the top ones heated, and the lower ones the cooling pans. 
Tea dried in this manner is known as "pan-fired." The 
other method is to place the tea in a wicker basket, divided 
in the center with a board upon which the tea rests. The 
basket is then set over charcoal fire. The tea is stirred 
by hand and rolled lengthwise. Thus is produced what 
is known as "basket-fired" tea. Probably because of the 
fumes from the charcoal fire, the tea is darkened until it 
becomes almost black. There is a third type called 
"natural leaf," in which all the grades are kept together 
so that the finished product is a mixture of large and small 
leaf. This may be finally cured either by pan- or basket- 

The dried tea is now passed through sieves and sorted 
into the various grades of broken leaf, fannings, siftings, 
and nibs. Each of these grades, pan-fired, basket-fired, 
and natural leaf, is grown in distinct districts, each pro- 
ducing its own variety of tea. The tea is packed in zinc- or 
aluminum-lined chests or made into small packages for 


Tea produced in Formosa, to which the name oolong, 
meaning "black dragon," is given, is semi-fermented. The 
shrubs are ready to bear leaf, suitable for plucking, when 
they are about three years old, the plants having been 


26 Field Museum of Natural History 

pruned to limit the height and the circumference to about 
3 feet. The harvest season lasts from April until Novem- 
ber, and the successive pluckings are known as spring, 
summer, autumn, and winter crops. 

The preliminary step in the preparation of oolong 
tea is to spread the leaves out on bamboo trays. These 
are placed in the sun for partial drying, and, at the same 
time, to allow a certain amount of fermentation to take 
place. In this manner the leaf changes its color from dark 
green to a reddish or dark brown. During this time the 
leaves are rolled and crushed gently to eliminate moisture 
and to keep them pliable. By repeating the process of 
rolling and drying, the leaf is brought to the proper state 
of fermentation. When this is completed, the semi-moist 
and still crude leaf is transported to the manufacturing 

This consists of a room with a series of circular wells, 
about 2 feet in diameter, in the floor. In these, burning 
charcoal is placed, and over it stand bamboo baskets 
about 3 feet high, divided in the middle by a board. The 
tea is placed on this board and worked by hand until 
completely dried. It is then removed to another room 
where it is thoroughly mixed and packed in lead-lined 
chests for export. 


An interesting variety of tea is that used in Tibet and 
in some parts of Russia under the name of "brick tea." 
The product may be described as cheap coarse tea made 
by compressing small twigs and coarse leaves. The 
chief center of production is in western China. 

There is no preliminary withering or fermenting, but 
the leaves and twigs are heated for a few minutes in iron 
pans, and then tied in bundles or placed in sacks for 
transport to the factory, where the material is placed in 
heaps and allowed to ferment. The leaf is then dried 
in the sun, sorted into grades, steamed, and finally placed 
for 3 or 4 days in brick-shaped molds to be pressed. When 

.-^■■•i^ jiLi>a»>j t »»t > 


' / Geographic Society 



28 Field Museum of Natural History 

sufficiently dry, the bricks are stamped with the maker's 
name and are then ready to be packed in loads to be 
carried on the backs of porters or horses. 

Another form made in China and sold in the Russian 
market is "tablet tea," which is made either from tea 
dust obtained in the manufacture of better quality tea 
or by pulverizing tea leaves. The dust is steamed for a 
few minutes, after which it is cast into bricks by placing 
it in molds. The bricks are allowed to dry and harden in 
these molds for 2 or 3 weeks, after which they are packed 
in bamboo baskets for transport, mostly to Russia. 


Also called Jasmine Oolong, this is semi-fermented 
tea produced in the province of Foochow, China. When 
sufficiently dried to stop fermentation, the tea is spread 
out on the ground and a layer of jasmine blossoms is 
spread over it. Another layer of tea is added and more 
blossoms, until several layers have been formed. The 
mixture is then left to stand for several hours. The tea 
and blossoms are gathered together and finally heated, 
during which process the jasmine flowers are taken out; 
but their aroma remains. 

There are many grades of tea sold in the market under 
different names, but the following brief descriptions serve 
to characterize the principal varieties. 


Teas from India, Ceylon, Java, and Sumatra are similar 
in growth and manufacture. The tea leaf is reddish or dark 
brown to black, and the brew or liquor varies from light 
to dark brown. The grades, listed in the order of their 
quality, are: 

Leaf Grades 

Orange Pekoe. — Well-defined and closely twisted leaf. 

Pekoe No. 1. — Small tightly rolled leaf to more open leaf and 
similar to Orange Pekoe. 

Souchong. — The largest or coarsest leaf picked. 

Tea 29 

Broken Grades 

Broken Orange Pekoe. — Smallest parts of leaf, well made. 
Broken Pekoe or Pekoe No. 2. — Next largest parts of leaf to the 

Broken Orange Pekoe, more open. 
Broken Pekoe Souchong. — Still larger leaf than Broken Pekoe, 

but similar. 

China black tea is usually classified according to the 
region in which it is produced. The best quality is that 
from the Keemun district. This tea has a small, well-made 
grayish black leaf. The brew is a deep amber color and 
has a distinctive flavor. Other grades are Ichang, Ning- 
chow, and Hankow, of which seventeen different kinds 
are recognized locally. 


Chinese green teas produce a liquor of a light to dark 
yellow shade. The principal grades are Gunpowder, 
Hysons, and Young Hysons, and Imperials, according 
to whether they are rolled into small round balls or rolled 

Japanese green teas produce the same general character 
of liquor, which is light green to pale yellow in color. 

Pan-fired. — Small tightly twisted leaf, greenish in color. 
Basket-fired. — Long leaf, cured in such a way as to produce length. 
Natural Leaf. — Leaves of medium size, all grades cured together. 
Fannings, Siftings, Dust, and Nibs. — Considered as by-products 
in the manufacture of the above-named grades. 


Formosa semi-fermented or oolong tea is black in 
color, the highest grades consisting of small, tightly rolled 
leaf, while the lower grades are more open leaf. The 
grades, listed in the order of quality, are: Choicest, Choice, 
Fine, Good, Medium, and Standard. All produce a brew 
of amber color, which is highly flavored in the better 

Jasmine tea or Jasmine oolong tea is a mixture of 
tea leaves mixed with jasmine blossoms to impart aroma. 

80 Field Museum of Natural History 

This is grown in the Foochow district, in China, and 
prepared from the so-called Wysan leaf. 

Scented Orange Pekoe is manufactured also in the 
Foochow district, from the youngest and smallest shoots, 
and is scented with jasmine flowers. 


During the season 1933-34 the world production of 
tea of all kinds grown for export, amounted to approxi- 
mately 1,031 million pounds. The quantity produced by 
the different countries is as follows: 

(In millions of pounds) 

North India 320 

Ceylon 220 

China 200 

Java 135 

Japan 60 

South India.... 50 

Sumatra 26 

Formosa 20 

Total 1,031 

This total, of 1,031 million pounds, was exported to 
the following countries: 

(In millions of pounds) 

United Kingdom and Ire- 
land 438 

For home consumption in 
various tea-producing 
countries 180 

United States 86 

Soviet Russia 75 

Africa 60 

Australia 60 

Asia 40 

Canada 40 

Europe 40 

South America 12 

Total 1,031 

In the United States the yearly consumption of tea 
per capita amounts to ^ pound. In the United Kingdom 
the amount per capita is 11 pounds, in Australia 83^ 
pounds, in Ireland and South Africa 8 pounds each, and 
in Canada 4 pounds. 


SEP 11 1937