In order to guarantee true tea pleasure, the tea industry consequently applies a series of quality control measures. Sensorial, visual and analytical controls of the tea are done both, in the tea growing country and in the country of destination. Or in other words: Quality assurance already begins at the earliest stage – namely, when the small leaves are budding.
Right from the start
Right from the start, growers are able to ensure high and consistent quality by choosing a suitable soil and climate zone. The tea plants (Camellia sinensis L. Kuntze) are controlled carefully during the entire growing process and harvested at the optimal times.
During harvest, attention is given to the collected leaves, in order to ensure the highest quality. The harvested leaves are inspected and processed carefully. Both the staff as well as the processing place need to fulfil certain hygiene requirements in order to assure safe tea production.
As regards quality assurance at the tea origin, Tea & Herbal Infusions Europe regularly seeks a successful exchange with tea boards and relevant organisations, in order to inform them on the latest European regulations related to tea quality. Amongst others, the target is to encourage tea growing countries to reduce the application of plant protection products to the absolute necessary minimum.
Blenders and buyers - all tea tasters - taste the teas brought at auction on arrival at the tea-packaging factory, to reassess that they have not been contaminated or damaged whilst in the warehouses awaiting the auction.
Before purchase, samples of the tea in question are always analysed by the potential buying company.
The tea is then packed carefully and supplied to the European producer, where it undergoes further comprehensive quality control measures.
Arriving at its destination
All producers of tea have a quality assurance system and staff available to check the raw materials at each production stage.
On arrival at the destination country, the tea is again carefully analysed for example with regard to its content of valuable substances, but also for possible residues of pesticides and contaminants by a specialised laboratory. Only after the raw material has successfully passed this stage of quality control, processing at the producing company begins. This procedure ensures that the tea sold on the European market is in compliance with the European pesticide residue and contaminants legislation. Analytical results prove that tea is amongst the best controlled foodstuffs.
When arriving at the processing company, the sensorial and visual quality is determined once again. That is, where the tea taster comes in: He smells, looks, feels and tastes in order to closely examine the tea. In doing so, he takes into account the dry tea leaf, the already infused leaf and the “cup”, i.e. the liquor. Next to the flavour and colour of the tea, also the brilliance, freshness and strength of the brew are crucial criteria. Determination of the sensorial and visual tea quality is always made according to strictly specified and internationally recognised criteria.
After successfully passing all stages of quality control, the tea is packaged carefully and sold to the European consumer.