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BOH Tea Plantation





BOH Plantations in Cameron Highlands is the leading back tea grower in Malaysia with four tea gardens – in Habu (the original), Sungei Palas Tea Garden, Fairlie Tea situated in Cameron Highlands; and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor – constituting a total land area of 1200 hectares. With a production capacity approaching 3000 kgs per hectare, the Company produces 4 million kilograms of tea annually which translates to about 5.5 million cups per day. This represents about 70% of all tea produced in Malaysia.

No trip to Cameron Highlands is complete without a trip to the tea plantations. It is one of the main attractions that's got to be in your "must see" list. You can visit the factories to learn the magical tea making process and you can also sit down and enjoy a perfect cup of tea at the cafe. The picturesque view overlooking the greenery is not only pleasant to the eye but also very calming and is a perfect ending of a long vacation.

History of the BOH Tea Plantation



The story of BOH begins with a young man named J. A. Russell, who came to Kuala Lumpur with his father in the year 1890 when he was just seven years old. He was later educated in England but returned to Malaysia after completing his education. J.A. soon became fluent in 5 Chinese dialects as well as Bahasa Melayu. He also started venturing into this interest in business, however, his greatest business venture was made in 1929. J.A. saw the potential of tea as an important crop for Malaya which until that time had been substantially dependent upon rubber and tin. Thus, J.A. applied and was granted a concession of land in Cameron Highlands together with A.B. Milne, a veteran tea planter from Ceylon.

With the help of only a steam roller, some labourers and several mules, they worked together to alter the tangled, dense jungle hillsides into the first highland tea garden in Malaysia. He proudly named it BOH which is an acronym that stands for ‘Best of Highlands’.

The Process: From Tea Bush to Teacup



Tea Harvest
The tea leaves are normally plucked every three weeks when the new shoots appear. Before the wondrous age of technology, workers used to pluck the tea leaves by hand. Nowadays, the most common way of harvesting tea leaves is with a two-man hand held machine that is assisted with winches. These machines can harvest up to 300 kilograms of tea leaves per day which is ten times more than traditional hand plucking. In Bukit Cheedang where the land is flatter and more accessible, a vehicular harvester is used. This machine can produce up to 9000 kilograms of tea leaves per day.

Withering
The main objectives of this process are to minimize the moisture content and to allow natural chemical processes to occur. There are two withering methods used – trough withering and bin withering. Trough withering involves warm air blown on leaves spread on troughs with perforated beds. Whereas bin withering involves 6 ft. deep bins that fill up to 2 tonnes of leaves with ambient air blown through the leaves to prevent overheating. This whole process takes up to 12 to 20 hours, therefore, it is normally done overnight.

Rolling
Rolling crushes the leaf cells while processing the leaves into smaller particles. This is to expose the cells to oxygen for the next phase. In ancient China, leaves were rolled between the palm. Later, in India, a machine was made that imitated the hand rolling action. This machine can be seen at the Sungei Palas factory. BOH also uses Rotovanes which have huge corkscrews that squeeze and grind the leaves. Another machine used is the Cut-Tear-Curl machine that has interlocking rollers that concurrently cut, tear and curl the leaves.

Fermentation
This process is also known as oxidation. The leaves are spread on trays o ferment or fed through series of rotating blades. Here, flavour, aroma and colour develops. Tea leaves enter the process green in colour and come out in a coppery colour.

Drying
Drying involves passing blasts of hot air (120 degree Celsius) Through fermented leaves. This prevents leaves from being over fermented. At the end of this process, the leaves moisture is reduced to 3%. Two types of dryers are used by BOH – the Endless China Plate and the Vibrating Fluid Bed. Tea leaves emerge in the familiar crisp, black curled form known as made tea. At this point, the tea leaves consist of various sizes, off grades, fibres and stalk.

Sorting
The off grades, fibres and stalk are removed by running the tea through a series of machines. There are four main grades: leaf; made tea whose whole leaf is still intact, broken; made tea whose whole leaf is broken, fannings; small broken grades, and dust; smallest grades which are commonly blended with fannings and used in teabags.

Tea Tasting
This process is essential to monitor and judge the characteristics of the tea. Tea tasting is an art that requires years of training and experience. The tea-taster firstly will examine the samples for colour, texture, amount of twist and evenness of grade. Next, the tea leaves are steeped in boiling water and decanted into tasting mugs. The infused leaves are examined for colour, uniformity and brightness. The tea taster will then sip the tea, testing the taste and flavour as well as aroma. He will make full use of his taste buds, gums and inner cheeks to test the taste of the tea.

Packing
All BOH’s packaging is done at Bukit Cheedang. At BOH, all packaging is designed to ensure optimum protection of tea. Leaf teas are packed in aluminium laminated packages. Premium leaf teas are packed in airtight canisters. The tea bags are then mechanically packed by tea bag packing machines. Tea dust are packed in aluminium laminated packages or tins and instant tea in airtight aluminium sachets.