Tea Industry

Tea Industry


a branch of the food-processing industry for the production of loose and pressed teas from leaves of the tea plant.

The cultivation of tea was introduced into Russia in the 1840’s in Georgia. In 1913, five tea factories were operating in Georgia and produced 131 tons of loose tea. The tea industry underwent considerable development in Georgia after the establishment of Soviet power. A large number of tea factories were constructed in the period of the five-year plans prior to World War II. In addition to loose black tea, the major product, the production of loose green and brick green teas was initiated.

The tea industry in the USSR maintains plants for the primary processing of tea leaves and for the packaging and pressing of natural tea. Factories for the primary processing of tea leaves are concentrated in three Soviet republics, namely, the RSFSR (Krasnodar Krai), the Georgian SSR, and the Azerbaijan SSR. In 1975, Georgia accounted for up to 95 percent of the total tea leaf harvest (see Table 1).

Table 1. Development of the tea industry in the Georgian SSR
 Number of primary processing plantsTea production (thousand tons)
1940 ...............348.8
1950 ...............4220.2
1960 ...............6538.2
1970 ...............7763.9
1975 ...............8482.5

Packaged tea under brand names is produced at 11 tea-packaging plants in the USSR (see Table 2). Tea production in 1975 at the largest plants was (in thousand tons) 16.5 at the Lenin Moscow Tea Factory, 13.4 at the Riazan’ plant, 13.6 at the Irkutsk plant, 20.0 at the Samarkand plant, and 19.8 at the Tbilisi plant.

In 1975 loose black tea accounted for 90,000 tons of the total tea production, loose green tea accounted for 31,170 tons, and black brick tea accounted for 7,970 tons. In addition, 10,000 tons of green brick tea were produced. The annual per capita production of tea grew significantly between 1965 and 1975: from 366 g to 580 g, including an increase in packaged brand tea from 312 g to 507 g.

Table 2. Production of packaged brand-name tea in the USSR (thousand tons)
1940 ...............21.951970 ...............87.50
1960 ...............62.401975 ...............129.18

An important feature of the tea industry in the USSR is the high degree of mechanization (80 percent in 1975) of the primary processing of tea leaves, especially in the drying and rolling stages, which require the most labor. Labor productivity in the industry increased by 25 percent during the ninth five-year plan (1971–75). The first stage in developing production lines for rolling tea leaves was completed, and a radically new technology for processing tea leaves by rapid freezing—which significantly reduces the production cycle time—was developed. Technologies for the production of black and green instant teas and tea dyes and a stalk-removal machine for improving the appearance and quality of tea were developed. Tea-packaging factories were equipped with highly efficient, new automatic tea packers. The production of tea in packages for single-cup brewing has been introduced. The production of a yellow-colored tea with enhanced physiological benefits was begun in 1977. The average unit output of a tea-leaf-processing factory has reached 5,000 tons per year of raw material.

The world production of tea (excluding the USSR) in 1974 was more than 1.5 million tons. In addition to the leading tea-producing countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, and the People’s Republic of China—where tea has been a traditional export item for many centuries—tea production developed rapidly in the 1970’s in the African countries of Kenya and Uganda and in Vietnam, where tea factories have been built with the assistance of the USSR.

In 1974 tea production (in thousand tons) was 492 in India, 318 (estimate) in the People’s Republic of China, 204 in Sri Lanka, 102 in Japan, 53 in Kenya, and 51 in Indonesia.


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