People of Kerala and their love for tea go a long way. Without sipping on a hot tea in the morning, seldom do a majority of the Keralites begin their day. And they hardly stop with one cup of tea a day! No wonder, tea plants and tea growing regions in Kerala are popular in the state.
In Kerala, Idukki and Wayanad are the two districts that are well known for being tea growing regions. Then there are Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Palakkad districts too that contribute to tea growing. Those of you who have toured Kerala might have visited Munnar in Idukki. Munnar is a famous tourist destination simultaneously one of the major tea growing regions in Kerala.
Other main tea growing regions in Kerala are Mankulam, Pallivasal, Meppadi, Mananthavady, and Nelliyampathy. Of course, besides these, there are other pockets too that are tea growing regions in Kerala.
It is an exotic tourist location famous for enchanting views, pleasant climate, and a large area of tea plantations. With a history dating back to the pre-independence era, the tourist town in Idukki grew popular during British rule. Thousands of tourists from within the country and abroad make a beeline to the charming town in every season of the year. About 1600 m above sea level means the town is always a pleasant spot to visit. Even at noon, the place can be fog-blanketed as can be seen in the video.
The hilly regions of the town are seen mostly enveloped by the green tops of tea plants. A sight to behold during the snowclad mornings. The bewitching sight aside, the tea produced from this region is commercially sought-after. And it is one of the most popular tea growing regions in South India.
Tea plant cultivation by Kanan Devan brand of Tata Tea ltd in this region is widely popular.
Dotted with tea gardens, and coffee and cardamom estates, the village of Mankulam in the Idukki district of Kerala is a gem of a place. The exotic location in the lap of nature is not far from the famous town of Munnar. Multiple creeks and waterfalls add sparkle to this green hilltop tourist destination. Tranquil and chilly the village is without the immediate disturbances of city life. It is a weekend getaway destination among many tourists. For this reason, there are several homestays and resorts to accommodate the guests.
Besides the attractive side, the village is popular for its tea, coffee, and cardamom plantations. The cool climate and misty mornings make the village conducive for the farming of tea and coffee. Although the geography and climate resemble that of Munnar, you will not see such a large area of tea plants cultivation here.
My brother Abin and his family have been to Munnar and Mankulam recently and they could capture these images.
Munnar and Mankulam are well connected by roads. However, being a hilly region no nearby airports or railways routes. At 110 KM away is Cochin international airport.
Wayanad is another district in Kerala that has innumerable tea growing regions in it. Among the few towns and villages popular for commercially growing tea plants, Meppadi is a beautiful one. The conducive atmosphere here produces spices like cardamom, black pepper, ginger, vanilla, cocoa, and coffee among others.
There are several other villages and towns like Wayanad that produce tea leaves in small or large quantities. Among them Meppadi and Vythiri are popular. Surya Tea brand is famous in this tea-growing region.
My friend, Sudheesh who is a native of Wayanad has shared these photos and videos.
Meppadi is close to Kalpetta town and can be reached via road even from the neighboring state of Karnataka.
Cultivation Of Tea Plants
Usually, seeds are used for the planting and propagation of tea plants. High-yielding saplings are available these days for commercial agriculture. The plant can grow wildly and can attain a height of 15 feet or above if not cared for. For this reason, those growing the plants commercially take utmost care to timely prune them. Haven’t you seen the green bed of tea plants at a waist height? At this height, the harvesting of the leaves becomes easier. The fresh and juicy leaves are picked by hand usually. Although a few modern and smart methods are adopted, it is assumed, handpicked leaves remain fresh and less bruised.
For a healthy and copious crop conducive climate is essential at all stages of its growth. Not surprisingly the hilly regions of the Idukki district in Kerala are a steadfast haven for tea plant growers. Multiple natural elements are taken into consideration when growing tea plants. For the vibrant and luxurious growth and healthy leaves, a tropical or sub-tropical climate is mandated. Besides good soil, abundant rainfall and sunlight are necessary too.
Commercially grown plants are well maintained, cropping it in season and nipping the buds in time. Having collected the shoots from the plants, they are processed in the specified areas of the factory.
Processing Of Leaves
Basic segregation is done to classify them into green tea, black tea, or oolong tea. A two-fold step to dry and preserve the leaves and to best utilize the caffeine element in the leaves constitutes the fundamental preservation process.
Of course, depending on the branded companies there will be further classifications and addition of flavors. The use of different chemicals and enzymes to enrich the characteristics of tea enhances its color, flavor, and aroma.
Types Of Tea
Being one of the widely accepted and enjoyed beverages, tea is available in hundreds of varieties. White, green, black, spicy, herbal, dust tea, whole leaf, broken leaf, and the list can go on. The less caffeinated drink compared to many other drinks, tea is refreshing and soothing. With or without milk tea is one of the must-haves for a good majority of people in India and abroad.
The commercial and health ads have boosted our need to have tea – not just the regular ones, but the different colored or flavored ones.
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers