This is a small village in the hills of Myanmar in Shan State. Like Daw Khin Hla, many families earn their livelihood from green tea. The freshly-picked leaves must be roasted at high temperatures. Only a year ago, the tea leaves were turned in a fire bowl with bare hands – the penetrating smoke almost took your breath away. Kneading the leaves afterwards was women’s work. Daw Khin Hla rolled leaves on a bamboo mat for five minutes, so the flavours diffused to the surface. After these time-consuming production stages, the tea leaves were dried in the sun for one day.
Tea farmers are delighted with technical assistance
Thanks to donations, those days are over – tea roasters, tea rollers, solar dryers and packaging machines combine to make life easier for the tea farmers in Key Twin Kone. The drum of the tea roaster is heated over a small fire and rotated for 15 to 20 minutes. Daw Khin Hla no longer needs to roll tea leaves by hand thanks to the tea rolling machine. The new solar dryer is the pride of the families; it is used to dry the rolled tea leaves. “We are all delighted with the new equipment”, says Daw Khin Hla. That’s not surprising: the entire process has not only become much faster and more pleasant; but the result is finer quality tea.
Faster processing boosts the tea’s value
When the farmers pack the tea to sell it locally or on the market, they know that they can charge double the price. Green teas usually have a noticeably tangy note, which can also become bitter, especially in cheaper varieties. Now that the tea leaves can be processed within a day, the tea from the farmers in Key Twin Kone definitely leaves no bitter aftertaste.