Factory visits are always fun. Visiting the Dodabetta Tea Factory reminded me of my college days. These factories not only teaches us the process but also about the labour and technology behind the products that we consume on our day-to-day life. Tea is one such product that is consumed by millions of people worldwide. For some, it is just a refreshing beverage but for some, it’s a necessity to kick-start their day.
Ooty is one of India’s largest tea producing hill station and famous for its wide variety of flavoured tea. The Dodabetta Tea Factory and Museum resides on the lower hills of Dodabetta peak takes you through the complete journey of tea production from leaves to grains!
If the very thought of Tea makes you crave for it, then this factory visit is just for you!
The entire enclosure is divided into 4 parts, the Tea Factory, the museum, souvenir shops and the chocolate factory.
You will be taken through the entire process of tea manufacturing. The strong fragrance of the freshly crushed leaves will make you crave for a cup of hot tea. Worry not! They have a tea-tasting counter waiting for you at the exit point of the factory. Do try the chocolate tea and don’t forget to take some back home for your family and friends.
Fresh green leaves are harvested on a regular basis and this task is generally performed by women. The soft two-faced leaves and buds are plucked and sent to the factory three to four times a day.
The leaves are weighed and spread on troughs. Conditioned air is circulated between the leaves, to remove surface moisture, to concentrate and chemically break down the tea juices. It takes 10 hours to 14 hours to bring the leaf to a soft and rubbery condition suitable for the next procedures.
The leaves are then twisted inside the Rotorvane machine leading to the rupture of cell walls, to bring out the juices to the surface of the leaf. This process takes about 20 to 30 minutes. After which the twisted and the untwisted leaves are separated. This also helps in reducing the heat that is build up during this process. The rolled leaves are then passed over the roll breaker and the unrolled ones are put back into the rollers.
The process of Fermentation brings out the flavour, strength and the colour of the tea. During this process, the colour of the leaf changes from greenish to coppery brown.
The moisture is then extracted through the process of drying. The process takes about 20 to 25 minutes where the leaves are passed through driers, which have large circuits of perforated trays.
The tea particles are now separated based on their particle sizes and further cleaned down (removing of stalk and fibre).
Since tea has a tendency of absorbing moisture. They are packed in plywood tea chests of multi-walled aluminium craft paper lined paper sacks.
While the Tea Factory takes you through the process, the Tea Museum takes you through the journey of discovery and evolution of Tea. It is interesting to see the evolution and the growing technology to produce the finest of tea.
The Souvenir Shop
The souvenir shop is at the exit of the tea factory. You’ll find a variety of flavoured and regular tea. The shops also have a wide range of natural oils like Eucalyptus, tea, camphor etc & Spices like cardamom, cinnamon etc.
The Chocolate Factory on the second floor of the Tea factory is where you’ll get fresh homemade chocolates. They have an open kitchen where you can also see chocolate getting made. Rum and raisins, milk chocolates, dark chocolates and sugar-free chocolates are some of the specialities there. As you come down, do try out the doughnuts dipped in dark chocolate. It’s heavenly!
Let us know in the comments below your Tea Factory experience. We would love to hear!