Life of Tea

Tea is one of nature’s most noble gifts to mankind. History records show that tea was consumed by Han Dynasty Emperors in China as early as 2nd century BC. Dating back to Ancient China, tea was used as a medicinal beverage. After its healing properties were discovered, it was then used as a frequent drink to prevent any common illness. Soon, it was popularised around other large Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam before spreading to western nations such as England. Tea is a historic beverage, yet it has evolved both in technology and in the way it’s consumed to fit the requirements of the modern day.


Ceylon tea is known for its superior quality, unmatched character, and taste. Tea was first introduced to Sri Lanka, then known as “Ceylon”, by the British in the 1800’s. Ceylon at the time was under the British rule as a colony and was introduced to many different industries new to the country. James Taylor was one of the pioneers who established the Ceylon tea industry in an area of the country known as “Kandy”. Coffee was an already well established industry with many coffee plantations operating successfully throughout. Coffee plantations were soon converted to tea, pioneered by Henry Randolph Trafford, who had extensive knowledge of tea cultivation. Technology and machinery were imported from England to process the tea leaves which were to be sold commercially. Ceylon tea was auctioned to the highest bidder at various prices and its popularity grew in a significantly short period of time. In 1893, one million packs of tea were sold at the Chicago World’s Fair.

Tea Manufacturing

1. Tea Plucking

  • Only the young buds with 2-3 leaves are hand-picked
  • Leaves are plucked every 6-15 days, depending on the season/climatic conditions
  • Each kg will carry about 20,000 shoots
  • 4 kgs of fresh leaves are needed to make 1 kg of tea
  • Machine plucking is not done in Sri Lanka

2. Tea Withering

  • The objective is to evaporate the moisture slowly over a period of 18 to 24 hours depending on temperature and humidity.
  • Approximately 65% of the water content in the green leaf is removed at this stage
  • It becomes pliable and will withstand the subsequent process of ‘rolling’, without breaking up into flakes.

3. Tea Rolling

  • The purpose of rolling is to achieve the final curved appearance and to break the leaf cell walls. Rolling releases essential oils to start a chemical reaction of fermentation.
  • In this process, the green color of the leaf is replaced by a brown coppery-colored texture.
  • When the leaf cells are ruptured, the enzymes in the leaf come in to contact with oxygen in the air which initiates chemical reactions that are necessary for the production of black tea.

4. Tea Fermentation

  • The finer particles collected after roll breaking are fermented to bring about the changes necessary to make a tea liquor palatable.
  • The leaf is thinly spread in a cool, well-ventilated room to slowly oxidize (ferment).
  • Flavanols combine with oxygen in the air, developing the flavor as well as changing the color from green to brown over a period ranging from 2 to 4 hours
  • This is a fine art of the factory tea maker.

5. Tea drying

  • The Tea Dryer is a chamber which exposes the fermented leaf to hot, dry air at regulated, varying temperature within its parts, for a duration of 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Once optimum fermentation has been achieved, the rolled leaf is taken for firing (or drying) to prevent further fermentation by deactivating the enzymes. The drying will remove almost all of the remaining moisture of the leaf.

6. Tea Sorting/Grading

  • The separation of tea particles into ‘grades’ (different shapes and sizes) is required to conform to trade standards.
  • The dried tea is sorted into different grades by passing them over a series of vibrating screens of different mesh sizes.
  • The various grades of tea only denote a certain size and appearance of the leaf; it has no reference to quality. Broken grades normally give darker liquor and stronger tea. Leaf grades on the hand are lighter colored and less strong. The quality of tea is unrelated to a grade

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase Tipson Teas?

Currently, you can purchase Tipson Tea USA blends from You can also find our products in Sips By Tea tea of the month program at

How do I brew Tipson tea?

  1. It first begins with the water—the element that brings tea to its complete potential. We suggest using filtered, spring or bottled water to yield a better cup.
  2. Fill your tea kettle with fresh, cold water and heat to a rolling boil.
  3. If you’re using a teapot, warm it first by whirling in a splash of steamy water and drain it out.
  4. Plan on approximately one teaspoon of tea or herbs or one tea bag per six-ounce cup. If using whole leaf tea, place the tea in the infusing basket or teapot.

Time Your Steeping

Pour the water over the tea, cover if in a pot, and infuse to taste. Different teas require varying infusing times. Experiment to find your ideal time, but take care not to don’t steep for too long or you’ll find your tea has gone bitter or acidic.

Enjoy Your Tea

Remove the tea bag or infuser, or use a strainer for the leaves. Pour the steaming tea into a cup and let it cool for a few minutes.

Can I drink Tipson teas cold or over ice?

Yes. To prepare Tipson iced tea, we recommend using 8 oz of water per tea bag. Bring the water just to boiling and steep for the time indicated on the back of the Tipson box. Once the tea has fully steeped, allow it to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once chilled to your desired temperature, you may then add sweeteners, lemon and/or ice to suit your preference. If you plan on adding ice to your Tipson tea, we suggest using 2 tea bags per 8 oz of water.

Are Tipson teas organic?

Tipson’s collection of teas are USDA certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. Each ingredient is hand-selected and blended with the organic moringa leaves, so you can be sure you’re getting the best herbal tea can offer.

Tea Vocabulary

Terms used to describe Dry Leaf :

Black: A black appearance is desirable.

Blackish: A satisfactory appearance.

Bold: Particles of the leaf which are too large for the particular grade.

Brown: A brown appearance in teas that normally indicates the overly harsh treatment of the leaf.

Clean: Leaf that is free from fiber, dust and all extraneous matter.

Curly: The leaf appearance of whole leaf grade teas such as O.P., as distinct from “wiry”.

Even: True to the grade, consisting of pieces of the leaf of fairly even size.

Flaky: Flat, open and often light in texture.

Gray: Caused by too much abrasion during sorting.

Grainy: Describes primary grades of well-made CTC teas such as Pekoe Dust.

Leafy: A tea in which leaves tend to be on the large or long side.

Musty: A tea affected by mildew.

Neat: A grade having good “make” and size.

Powdery: Fine light dust.

Ragged: An uneven, badly manufactured and graded tea.

Stalk & Fibre: Should be minimal in superior grades, but is generally unavoidable in lower-grade teas.

Shotty: well-made Gunpowder or Pekoe. Bold in appearance, curly.Shotty: well-made Gunpowder or Pekoe. Bold in appearance, curly.Tip: A sign of fine plucking, apparent in top grades of orthodox “Low Grown Type Teas”.

Uneven & Mixed: “Uneven” pieces of the leaf usually indicative of poor sorting and not true to the particular grade.

Well Twisted: Used for describing whole-leaf grades, often referred to as “well-made” or “rolled”. OP, OP1 grades.

Wiry: Leaf appearance of a well-twisted, thin-leaf tea. OP, OP1grades.

Terms used to describe Infused Leaf :

Bright: A lively bright appearance. Usually indicates bright liquors.

Coppery: Bright leaf that indicates a well-manufactured tea.

Dull: Lacks brightness and usually denotes poor tea. Can be due to faulty manufacture and firing, or high moisture content.

Dark: A dark or dull color that usually indicates poorer leaf.

Green: When referring to black tea, refers to under-fermentation or to leaves from immature bushes (liquors often raw or light). Can also be caused by poor rolling.

Mixed or Uneven: Leaf of varying color.

Terms used to describe Liquors:

Aroma: Smell or scent denoting “inherent character,” usually in tea grown at high altitudes.

Bakey: An over-fired liquor. Tea in which too much moisture has been driven off.

Body: A liquor having both fullness and strength, as opposed to being thin.

Bright: Denotes a lively fresh tea with good keeping quality.

Brisk: The most “live” characteristic. Results from good manufacture.

Burnt: Extreme over-firing.

Character: An attractive taste, specific to the origin, describing teas grown at high altitudes.

Coarse: Describes a harsh, undesirable liquor.

Color: Indicates a useful depth of color and strength.

Cream: A precipitate obtained after cooling in well-made low grown teas.

Dull: Not clear, and lacking any brightness or briskness.

Earthy: Normally caused by damp storage, but can also describe a taste that is sometimes “climatically inherent” in teas from certain regions.

Empty: Describes a liquor lacking fullness. No substance.

Flat: Not fresh (usually due to age).

Flavor: A most desirable extension of “character,” caused by slow growth at high elevations. Relatively rare.

Fruity: Can be due to over-fermentation and/or bacterial infection before firing. An overripe taste.

Full: A good combination of strength and color.

Gone off: A flat or old tea. Often denotes a high moisture content.

Green: An immature, “raw” character. Often due to under fermentation (Sometimes under withering).

Harsh: A taste generally due to under withered leaf. Very rough.

Heavy: A thick, strong and colored liquor with limited briskness.

High-Fried: Over-fired but not bakery or burnt

Lacking: Describes a neutral liquor. No body or pronounced characteristics.

Light: Lacking the strength and depth of color.

Malty: A full, bright tea with a taste of malt.

Mature: Not bitter or flat.

Metallic: A sharp Metallic taste.

Muddy: A dull liquor.

Musty: Suspicion of mold.

Plain: A liquor that is “clean” but lacking in desirable characteristics.

Pungent: Astringent with a good combination of briskness, brightness and strength.

Quality: Refers to “cup quality” and denotes a combination of the most desirable liquoring qualities.

Raw: A bitter, unpleasant flavor.

Soft: The opposite of briskness. Lacking any “live” characteristic. Caused by inefficient fermentation and/or firing.

Strength: Substance in the cup.

Taint: Characteristic or taste that is foreign to tea, such as oil, garlic, etc. Often due to being stored next to other commodities with strong characteristics of their own.

Thick: Liquor with good color and strength.

Thin: An insipid light liquor that lacks desirable characteristics.