We are 1250 meters (4100 feet) high, rolling green hills that stretch to the horizon with regular designs and harmonious sizes from the small Tea leafs, small lakes and rice paddies can be seen in the distance.
This is the landscape of Sahambavy, the center of Madagascar, the history of Tea cultivation in this country dates back to 1970 when they started the first attempts to grow the seedlings brought from Kenya. Due to the altitude, the humid climate, the favorable conditions, and the patient work of farmers the Tea had grown very well and in 1978 opened the first state owned factory, in 1996 it was privatized and from then it continues to cultivate and produce excellent Tea. Today plantations occupy approximately 350 acres and a third is managed directly by the farmers.
Around 250 people collect manually every day only the leaves that have reached the right point, and with baskets bring them to the collection center, it takes about 5 kg of leaves to produce 1 Kg of Tea. The maximum harvest takes place from October to April where it could reach 20 tons per day. Child labor is strictly forbidden, but it is inevitable that sometimes children after school help parents working in the fields, but it is not forced labor and the company has specially built a school for the children of employees.
THE PRODUCTION OF SAHAMBAVY TEA
The production starts with the drying, the leaves are spread on large horizontal driers ventilated both above and below, where they lose 30% of their water, are then rolled to reduce the leaves into thin strips.
Followed by the fermentation phase, which is perhaps the most important and takes about 1 hour where the Tea develops the flavor and aroma, oxidation produces the characteristic brown color of the Tea leaves.
The leaves are dried to arrest the fermentation and the Tea passes in an oven at 121 ° Celsius (250 ° Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes, this drying is achieved through a boiler fueled by Eucalyptus wood.
The Tea is then cleaned from impurities and filtered with a beautiful and ancient electrical machine in wood and steel, the distance between the steel rollers and the conveyor belt is finely adjusted according to the type of Tea in treatment, it’s then divided into different quality and put into a double aluminum packaging to avoid absorbing moisture and other odors.
A laboratory continuously monitor the quality of Tea coming directly out of the production line, samples are made to control beyond the color and appearance of the fibers also the aroma and acidity.
Madagascar produces about 500 tons per year which corresponds to approximately 0.01% of the global market.
80% of the production is exported to Kenya and in Mombasa where is the biggest auction of tea in the world, the big brands such as Lipton and other European and American buyers establish the market price. The Sahambavy Tea is requested on the international market for its quality.
The infusion has a very nice amber color with an intense flavor and aroma, a strong full-bodied black Tea which is good combined with milk and brown sugar or honey, as do the locals. It’s also very good added with Madagascar Vanilla that makes it more smooth and balanced, NatureMadagascar offers also a blend made exclusively with Sahambavy Tea and Bourbon Vanilla of top quality cut into small pieces, absolutely not to be confused with the vanilla flavored Tea that can be found on the market where the aroma of vanilla is given by synthetic vanillin.