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Indonesia tea - an emerald jewel.

Indonesia tea - an emerald jewel

Every Wednesday the Indonesian tea industry gathers for the Jakarta tea auction. Representatives from the major tea packers, exporters, importers, and smallholders convene for a good-natured, relaxed round of buying and selling.

Both tea production and exports have been increasing, much to the delight of the industry but exporters claim, unfortunately, that it is a buyers' market. In 1986, tea production registered just under 130,000 MT and in 1988, a slight rise to 137,000 MT was reported. Tea exports for 1986 registered almost 79,000 MT and 1987 shot up to 90,000 MT. 1988 continued to rise to 92,000 MT. The U.S. is the largest importer of Indonesian tea with 15,000 MT most recently imported, an amount larger than the entire Western Europe contingency.

Russia, which hardly ever imported Indonesian tea, has begun importing since 1985 and currently imports about 8,000 MT. Pakistan follows with 7,400 MT, Iraq with 6,900 MT and Egypt with 5,000 MT. Russia's import activity has helped the Indonesian market, enabling the industry to get a more competitive price for their teas.

In the last 10 years both tea production and exports have increased by almost 50 percent.

There are 28 PTP's (tea estates) numbered geographically which range from North to South Indonesia. The PTP's may sell their tea on their own but many go through the Joint Marketing Office which sells their tea and also runs the weekly auctions.

Gunung Mas Tea Estate & Factory

Gunung Mas Tea Estate belongs to PT Perkebunan XII and is a state-owned enterprise. It is located in Puncak West Java around 100 km from Jakarta. R.G.S. Soeriadananingrati is the president and director of Gunung Mas.

Gunung Mas (meaning Gold Mountain) tea estate comprises some 1000 hectares (about 2500 acres) of tea. This estate started in 1910 and the factory is at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level, thus its product is classified as good medium tea. Precipitation averaged 3600 mm with 173 rainy days per year during the last five years.

The estate plans include replanting some 50 percent of the existing mature area during the period 1986-1992 using improved planting material, mostly leaf cutting from selected clones. Tea production in 1988 was 1,131 tons and it is expected that by 1993, the estate will yield more than 2,500 tons.

The estate employs about 1700 people, all women, of which 1,300 are residents, the balance being casual labor.

Gunung Mas Tea Factory produces what is called "CTC black tea" (Crushing - Tearing & Curling) using modern machinery which started in 1987. Since 1910 until 1987, Gunung Mas Tea Factory produces "orthodox black tea".

Tea fields in Indonesia are plucked all-year round with negligible variation in monthly crops. Except during a few months after pruning, which is done once every three to four years, each field is plucked once every 9-11 days. What is removed from the tea bushes are the young shoots, consisting of two to three leaves and the bud.

About 100 hectares are replanted every year. Fertilizers are continually used on the plants and at times pest problems are encountered. Tea bushes yield as much as 1.5 kg per hectare. After 15 or 20 years, the tea's production decreases drastically and so new bushes are planted. The nursery is continually propagating new seedlings.

The leaf collected from various fields are weighed and spread on a withering trough where warm or fresh air is blown through it. After 10 to 14 hours the leaf loses about 30 percent of its moisture and becomes flaccid and supple.

Besides this purely physical change some chemical processes also occur in the withering leaf.

The withered leaves are then charged and passed by a series of rolling machines consisting of:

GLS, green leaf sifter

BLC, Barbora leaf conditioner

CTC, 1 - 2 - 3

This series of rolling is about one minute, the leaf is broken into small pieces, the leaf cells are ruptured and specific substances in the cells oxidize (or ferment). This is the essential difference between black and green tea (which is not fermented at all).

The fermentation in the fermenting unit takes around one hour. When the fermentation process reaches its optimum point, the best combination between flavor and strength (different for every factory) the leaf is fed into drying machines (FBD-fluid bed drier) for contact with heated air.

The chemical process is abruptly stopped and the characteristics, acquired during the previous processes, are fixed and preserved while the moisture content is reduced to less than four percent.

The tea is then sorted to size, form and appearance into commercial grades - broken--fannings and dusts (several factory also make leaf grades). For the time being Gunung Mas tea estate makes several grades, BPI (Broken Pecco, PFI (Pekoe Fanning), PD (Pekoe Dust), D1 (dust), F (fanning), and BM (Broken Mix).

Each grade is packed in aluminium-foil lined plywood chests containing 45-55 kgs each; then sent to Jakarta, sold in the auctions and shipped abroad in "breaks" consisting of pallet loads of 20-25 chests each.

The estate processes 20 tons a day. According to the director, the estate prefers not to pack CTC tea in paper sacks because there is an appearance of spoilage but they will pack it in sacks if the customer wishes.

Gunang Mas also packs tea in tea bags for the local market. For the local market, the product is packed in small boxes containing 25 tea bags and/or packed in aluminium-foil lined paper. The facility houses one Mai teabag packing machine, which can pack up to 120 tea bags per minute, and one IMA which packs up to 180 per minute.

The estate supplies tea for the 4 & 5 star hotels in Jakarta and for Garuda Airlines (Indonesia's own airline). Before packing, moisture is checked every hour so that moisture content is no larger than 3.7 percent. The average range of tea's moisture content is 2.5-3.7 percent.

Approximately, 85 percent of their product is exported to Europe, the U.S., Middle East, and Australia.

PHOTO : Gunung Mas is one of the smallest tea estates, but to this editor, who never saw a tea

PHOTO : plantation before, it was huge.

PHOTO : The nursery is always in use as seedlings are planted each year.

PHOTO : Gunung Mas spans over 2500 acres (1000 hectares).
COPYRIGHT 1989 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:McCabe, Jane Phillips
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1989
Words:1067
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