Tea Packaging, Distribution & Trading
For loose-leaf packets, the blended tea is put into a hopper which feeds a machine that carefully measures and dispenses the right amount of tea into the packet, filling it and sealing it, and weighing it as a final check. This is all done automatically in seconds.
Tea bag tea is fed into specially designed machines which will fill thousands of teabags, be they round, square or pyramid shaped, each minute. Each bag usually contains at least 2.27gms of tea and is hermetically sealed, then packed into cartons.
Speciality teas, that is a blend of teas which take their name from a growing area, time of day or person's name, are blended in just the same way, but there are not so many teas in any one blend of speciality tea as there are in a popular blend.
The tea packaging companies sell their tea to the supermarkets, and other retailers using a national accounts system, through wholesalers and even by a team of salesmen calling on corner shops.
Your tea reaches the supermarket or shop shelf between 20 to 30 weeks after it has been plucked on the estate or smallholding.
To see a list of companies and organisations involved in the journey from estate to cup, go to the Tea List section of the website.
Tea is sold in a variety of ways. Tea may be sold at auction in countries of origin. There are international auction centres in Mombasa in Kenya, Colombo in Sri Lanka and Limbe in Malawi. India has auction centres in the north and south. Indonesia sells tea in Jakarta. China sells her tea by numbered standards at commodity fairs at Guangzhou.
Tea prices are governed by quality, supply and demand. Tea brokers act as intermediaries and taste, value and bid on their client's behalf. Tea may also be sold from the tea garden by private sale or at offshore auction whilst on route to its destination. After its arrival in Britain, the tea is taken to the various packaging companies for blending and packing.