History of Tea in Malaysia
History of Tea in Malaysia
Although the Malaysians have been drinking tea for quite some time its plantation began in 1929. Cameron Highlands is situated on Titiwangsa Mountains above 1,500 meters above sea level. The temperature of the Highlands stays on an average of 18° Celsius while the mildly acidic soil is perfect for growing the Camellia sinensis. There is plenty of sunshine and the moisture is perfect which makes the tea leaves sweet and aromatic. The Cameron Highlands is also referred to as the ‘Green Bowl’ of Malaysia.
First Tea Plantation
J. A Russell who was an established businessman in rubber and tin was the first person to have got the idea of a tea plantation. He had seen that the even in the rough economic situations the Malaysians continued to buy tea. His tie up with another expert tea grower from Ceylon helped him in expanding his business. His company was called BOA Plantations and presently it is Malaysia’s largest producer of tea. Besides the BOA plantations three other tea gardens are famous for tea productions – Bukit Cheeding,SungeiPalas and Fairlie.
The BOH Plantations are the biggest growers of tea in Malaysia who produce about 4,000 tons of tea annually. They also happen to be one of the companies who control all the phases of tea production – right from planting to packaging. BOH are famous for production of high quality black tea.
About 70% of the country’s annual tea is produced by BOH. The remaining 30% is fulfilled by plantations of Bharat Tea and Sabah Tea. Both the plantations are known to be producers of good quality aromatic tea that give a rich honey colour and have a smooth flavour. All the gardens have their individual facilities where the processing of the tea happens. Fairlie uses some of the most modern machinery for the production of tea.
The harvesting of tea leaves is usually done by clipper style machines, used with hands or raised tractor harvesting machines. Being the best company in Malaysia BOH has a huge team of researchers who continuously strive to guarantee that the quality of tea produced in their company is the best. The quality team oversees the work at their processing house. They are not only the biggest distributors of tea in the local Malaysian markets but have spread their wings abroad too. Their customers abroad are Singapore, United States, Brunei, UAE and Japan.
One of the tea’s for which BOH is famous for is the ‘Palas Supreme’ which is a flowery pekoe(FP) black tea. Flowery pekoe are leaves which are rolled into balls. There is a list of names for the teas which and the names are got by their style of picking. For instance Flowery Orange Pekoe(FOP) is the end bud and first leaf of every shoot. Very tender leaves are rolled in an exact proportion of the tip and the end of the buds while the Orange Pekoe(OP) are pointed and long leaves which are bigger than FOP and are harvested when the buds open out into leaves.
The Bharat Company was set up soon after BOH in 1933. The present owner of Bharat tea is Kesave Kumar. Although Bharat is also a contributor in the production of the country’s tea they still have to work on their retail strategy.
Tea Market of Malaysia Present
Tea production in Malaysia is one of the oldest industries yet there is much more potential in the Malaysian which can be exploited. The global climatic changes and shortage of labour in the tea gardens pose a problem for them these days. Despite the challenges face by them the country is considerably contributing to the tea economy.