The ritual of plucking the famed two leaves and a bud is monitored with utmost stringency, for this is where quality tea is born. The estate employees who do the harvesting are provided with special training on implementing the "choicest plucking", a concept by which only quality input is allowed to the production facilities.

The leaves collected at the factories are withered by the passage of air blown through them by axial flow fans.

The tea leaves lose 30% to 45% of moisture when laid out on the withering troughs for 12 to 16 hours.

The leaves then pass through either of two production processes, Orthodox and CTC or cut, tear and curl, depending on the nature of the final product desired.

In the CTC method of manufacture, the withered leaf is fed into a Rotorvane, which crushes the leaf by building pressure in itself.

The crushed leaf is then fed through a bank of CTC machines. During this process, the crushed leaf is first cut into small pieces. Then the cells in the leaf are ruptured and exposed by a tearing effect and finally,cut pieces are curled to give a grainy make of tea.

The next stage in the CTC manufacture is Fermentation, which is a process of oxidation. The cut leaves are fed into a fermentation drum and rolled.

It is during fermentation that certain characteristics of the tea such as briskness, brightness, colour and hardness are developed

The penultimate stage of CTC manufacture is the drying process. The main purpose of drying is to arrest fermentation. Hittakkal uses the program logic controlled Kilburn vs-dd4 dryer and the camlin vibro fluid bed dryer, the best drying systems available.

Finally, the dried teas are sorted, cleaned and graded by passage over electrostatic fibre extractors and wire meshes of different apertures. The graded teas are now ready to be packed.

The first among the packed black tea to be rolled out from Hittakkal is the prestigious "Mystic Bud".

© Hittakkal