Tea Craft: When is Tea Picked?

Picking tea leaves is not just about harvesting tea that will make it to your cup. It’s a key part of the lifecycle of the tea bush.

The timing of the pick is crucial for quality - in China it's said that ‘three days early it is treasure, three days late it is grass’ - and to ensure the start of the germination of new leaves at just the right time.

In countries like Kenya where the climate is similar all year, there is growth all year and picking every fortnight. In countries with seasons, the tea plant is dormant for part of the year, until it ‘flushes’ into life and new shoots emerge; picking can start.

Different countries revere different flushes or harvests - the 1st flush in Darjeeling in Spring is considered to be the most flavoursome, whilst it’s the 2nd flush in Assam that is most prized.

Find out more about how tea is picked.


Ceylon Rainforest Lumbini SFTGFOP Loose Leaf Black Tea Pouch 100g

Net Weight: 100g

From the Lumbini rainforest region of Sri Lanka, only the higher grown leaves are selected. Laced with gold tips, it a full-bodied tea, with a rich natural sweetness of caramel and dark sugar.

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This Sri Lankan tea is from the unique Lumbini Estate, located in the village of Pallegama in the Deniyaya valley in southern Sri Lanka. Named in honour of the place believed to be the birthplace of The Buddha in Nepal, the Lumbini Estate and factory was established just under 40 years ago. A unique environment contributes to the characteristics of the local teas. Lumbini, sitting at the relatively low altitude of 450m, is surrounded by 20,000 hectares of the virgin Sinharaja rainforest. Giant trees fill the valley with oxygen and the high concentration benefits the oxidation process of the regions black teas. Fresh sea breezes rush from the south coast and sweep across the tea bushes. The combination of these climatic conditions gives Lumbini teas unique flavours.
This black tea grown on the edge of rainforest, is a SFTGFOP grade, that tea connoisseurs know is the best grade of black tea possible. For those not so familiar, it's 'official' black tea grade language used for black teas from India. It stands for: Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Working backwards, Flowery Orange Pekoe [FOP] denotes two leaves a bud from the end of the plant - the finest, tenderest young leaves. Flowery is self-explantory, Orange refers to the Dutch House of Orange, and Pekoe is of Chinese origin referencing the silvery hairs on the buds. Golden refers to the golden yellow leaf buds and when these are in abundance, it becomes Tippy. Special Finest.... means the Special Finest. The best.
A Copper coloured liquor with reddish highlights.

It's a full bodied, strong and hearty black tea with a rich sweetness of dark sugar and complex notes of caramel. Lingers on the palate.

Makes a super breakfast tea, with milk.




Brewing Time



Ceylon Black Tea


Store in a cool, dry place avoiding direct sunlight and strong odours.


What makes Black Tea black?

It all starts with a small ‘just-plucked’ green tea leaf, usually about 5 cm long, delivered fresh by the picker to the local factory for processing. Whilst varying by region, there are always 5 core steps to making a Black Tea.

Step 1 - ‘Withering’: the leaves are spread out in warm air for up to a day to reduce the water content by about 20%. The leaves wilt and lose some of the vibrant green colour.

Step 2 - ‘Rolling’: the wilted leaves are soft and malleable and are placed in an ‘orthodox’ rolling machine. It presses the leaf and breaks down the cell walls, releasing the enzymes required to start the oxidation process. Sometimes the leaf is broken more by a rotavane ‘mincing’ machine that produces smaller grades of tea. If a very small teabag grade is required, a Cut-Tea-Curl machine is used.
Step 3 - ‘Oxidation’ [not fermentation, which requires a microbe involvement]: takes half an hour or so depending on the conditions. Chemical reactions are now creating the natural chemicals that deliver flavour and [reputed!] health benefits. The leaf darkens, just like a cut apple after a few minutes.

Step 4 - ‘Firing’: the oxidised tea is fed into a dryer at about 120 Celsius. This does 3 things - it destroys the enzymes, so oxidation stops; secondly it removes nearly all the water [about 3% remains]; and thirdly, it darkens the colour from light brown to dark to almost black, depending on the length of firing.

Step 5 - Sorting: tea exits the firing process in different sizes, which will complicate brewing - hence the last stage of the process is grading – fired tea is poured into the top of a sifting machine with different mesh sizes from top to bottom. It vibrates and the different sized tea leaves are separated as the tea travels from top to bottom, the biggest leaves being left the top.

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  • FAQ

    Does this tea contain caffeine and is there more or less than in coffee?
    Yes, all tea like coffee, contains caffeine. The amount in both teas and coffees does vary, depending on the type, but typically Sri Lankan black tea is lighter than other teas in caffeine content, usually between 50 and 90mg for a normally brewed 230ml serving. This compares to about 95mg for a normal cup of coffee. The best advice is to treat tea and coffee similarly if you need to manage your caffeine intake.

    I’ve heard that tea contains theanine. What is it and what does it do?
    Tea does indeed contain theanine, which is an amino acid [the building blocks of proteins]. Tea is one of only a few sources of theanine. It represents about 1% of dry weight and is at its highest concentrate in shade-grown teas like matcha and gyokuro. Whilst not yet proven in scientific studies that would permit specific health claims to be made, it is believed by many to be able to reduce mental and physical stress, promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. But not only that, it is more recently being thought to aid cognitive function. It’s one explanation for tea’s famous ability to create calm in a crisis [the Great British solution to all problems – ‘putting the kettle on’] and to stimulate when a little boost is required.

  • Delivery & Returns

    UK Standard Delivery: £3.95
    UK Next Day Delivery (mainland UK only): £9.95 (Order before 12pm)
    International Delivery is available, please see our delivery page for details. For more information and Terms & Conditions, please see our Delivery page.

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