Speciality Tea : Part 6 – Handmade Tea

Blink and you might miss it! It’s so quick; the assessments of the tea leaf, deft movement to select the perfect leaf, pluck the bud or tender young leaf and skilfully hand roll.  Their experienced eyes will access the bud for:

  • Quality
  • Age
  • Size (all the buds would need to be the same length).  This is key, so that when the tea is brewed the buds unfurl at the same rate and pace.
Golden Tips and Silver Tips – Sri Lanka’s Speciality Tea

Their skilful fingers pluck and roll in one smooth action:

Handmade tea starts its journey when the tea estate decides to invest in growing this type of speciality tea varietal.  Selecting an appropriate part of the estate to grow particular kinds of tea varietals. The terroir that best suits the taste the tea estate wants to achieve.   Tea seeds are started off in the nursery and then moved to the selected plot when the seedlings are a few months old.  Nurturing the tea plants for a few years, plucking the tea leaves at its optimum and then the part that takes the quickest time – to hand roll the tender tea leaves.

Hand Selected Silver and Golden Tips

Leaves are allowed to dry either outside in the sun or inside, depending on the weather and humidity.  From tea seeds to seedlings to when the tea leaves/buds are plucked – there are no machines involved in any this process.

The most special tea leaves to be handmade in Sri Lanka are highly priced:

  • Silver Tips
  • And even more highly valued – Golden Tips

Silver Tips

The unopened tea leaf/bud is priced all over the world.  The young tender bud is the most protected part of the tea plant itself.  All most all its energies will be put into nurturing, shielding and guarding the tea buds. The tea plant will ensure the tender young bud gets the best chance against predators and thus to thrive. 

Silver tips are carefully selected by experienced tea puckers and then a further selection is done at the tea factory to sort the buds from young tea leaves. 

Size matters.  When silver tips are brewed, the unfurling of the buds will be synchronized. This gives you a brew where all the goodness has been extracted at the same time.  The liquor from Silver Tips are the most subtle, naturally sweet and gentle teas you could ever drink.

Golden Tip

These are now the most priced handpicked and handmade tea from Sri Lanka.  This particular tea leaf/bud is from a special varietal and it’s this that gives the brewed tea its golden hue and unique aroma and taste. 

Planting, harvesting, transporting, hand rolling, packing and shipping is all done in small quantities.  Tea leaves stay whole as possible so that when the leaf/bud unfurls in your cup, all you get is fragrance and flavour.

Its colour and taste profile fits the season we are coming into now – autumn.  Tastes of honey and a faraway hint of earthiness

Other Handmade Tea

Whole tea leaves are also handmade and hand rolled so that experienced tea pickers can select the leaves that will be rolled and dried out in the air naturally.

Golden Tips and Whole Tea Leaves Hand Rolled – Served at a Tea Tasting