Ceylon Tea is the premier quality tea in the world tea market for the last many decades. Its superiority brings by the excellent cultivation and production practices and natured and nourished by the fantastic climate conditions. The flavor and the color bring along with the two chemical compositions that blend in excellent proportion radiating magnificent aroma around the tea processing plants. During my recent visit to Ahinsa Tea at the base of the Sinharaja National Park gave me a fantastic feeling and also it brings to light the conscious effort that Prof Piyasena Abegunawardana has made during the last ten years to maintain chemical-free teacup for current and future generation. This visit reinvigorated my old University notes on tea production and manufacturing at Uduwela Tea Estate. It brings my attention not only to the clean tea production process but also the immense contribution to the ongoing demand for healthy foods and drinks for a generation. I determined to write this review to salute the founder of Ahinsa Tea for his unstinting effort to establish such a wonderful product unit during the last ten years.
Excellent cropping system adopting the green technology of natural shade cover, grass terraces preventing erosion, space planting and weed control insect repellent nim trees (Komba) and many more in the Ahinsa tea plantation.
The organic foods and drinks are important and a big choice for modern life. Various industries introduce an unlimited range of fancy food and drinks every day with eye-catching packages, media clips and amusing television advertisements. Overexcited consumers and change our feeding habits without any knowledge of their detrimental effects. For some years my wife and I have chosen to produce food using chemical-free, organic production. It is strongly reinforced to me why we have made this choice after seen the process of chemical-free clean tea at Ahinsa Tea Factory. Most of the pesticides and herbicides used in agricultural production systems are been linked with detrimental effects on humans health. It is for not only the human being but also the most prestigious wildlife in our environments that bring amazing diversity. According to credible medical researches, these effects of pesticide exposure on human beings have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, birth defects, neurological and reproductive risks, and hormonal imbalances. All these explanations are carefully considered during the development of Ahinsa organic tea industry and strictly follows the national and international regulation to make it product 100% safer.
Picture 2. The correct withering of tea leaves is an integral part of quality tea manufacturing. The slow phase air circulation and agitation on withering benches is the best system for quality tea.
The industry uses most modern equipment and machinery for the production system and field operation. Well-trained and skilled filed operators are conducting the most dedicated operations in the field. The basic principles of science always applied for crop establishment, mixed crop management, shading and quality control, manual and selective weed control, and minimizing erosion. There is an interesting return from this methodical operation. Well, train groups of young women do tea plucking with their careful hands. We hear the company provided the training facility for these delicate operations.
Picture 3. Modernized tea roller smoothly cruses the finely withered tea leaves like crushing between thumb and the pointing finger.
Picture 4. Conditioning of processed tea leaves before grading
The factory processing units are very clean and well maintained. Chains of actions are being taken from tealeaves haulage. The process of withering, rolling, fermentation, drying and grading have a big impact on the quality of the final product. Ahinsa Tea has controlled Union certificate
Picture 5. The best quality tea samples for the day as we entering to tea tasting lab
Figure 6. Tea tasting always takes place under the hand of Prof Abegunawardana who have completed an extensive tea plantation course at the Faculty of Agriculture, The University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
The modern green technology such as biogas for the tea tasting process, hydropower electricity for the factory operation and the office equipment being used. This brilliant industry not only producing excellent quality organic tea but also a classic example of massive investment in carbon footprint. We have visited the hydropower plant installed in the backyard of the plantation using the cascading waterfall in the natural environment. This hydropower generates a significant amount of energy to run the industry. It also saved a large quantity of energy from the national grid.
The tea tasting process needs clean hot water to make the real taste of the tea. Most of the waist bio-products used to produce biogas that provides energy for boiling water. In addition, hot water is used for cleaning and some other processes in the laboratory.
Job opportunities and out-grower farm families
The Ahinsa tea industry is a classic example of how rural livelihood can be uplifted with an agriculture-based small industry. There are about 200 out-growers plucking tea leaves every day for the factory requirement. Those growers will receive a premium price for the quality of fresh tea leaves. The industry supports the social activities which bring social harmony among the small community. In addition to the out-growers, there are factory workers permanently employed by the Ahinsa tea industry.
Marketing and advertisement
Ahinsa tea produces a variety of organic tea. These products carry the brand name AHINSA and will find it very attractive air-tight packaging. As the process of drying and packaging take place with highly supervised staff, its quality is always guaranteed. Even though it’s a small industry the price of high-quality tea is very attractive.
Ahinsa tea has a very high-quality recommendation from Japan, the USA, Australia, and some other developed countries. It always maintained high quality for organic tea and we wish them well for the great work done for Sri Lanka.
Jayampathi Basnayake (Ph.D.)
Principal Scientist, Sugar Research Australia Ltd
PO Box 387 | 30962 Bruce Highway | Brandon Q 4808 Australia