University of Tea Part 2: Pruning

This is the third of our insights from the recently held PMD Tea University weeklong experience held in Sri Lanka. 

A well-managed tea plant is critical to every perfect cup of tea.  

Tea plants start life in the nursery, either from as a seed or from a cutting. (Click here to read an article on tea bush propagation).

Plants that are older than two years will be transferred from the nursery either into a new hill clearing or will fill a gap in the field. The latter occurs when a plant has died, and the reason for this can vary, but the most common is usually pests and diseases. 

Depending on where in the country a tea plant is, it will usually be picked every 3 to 10 days. 3-4 for low country as the tea grows faster, due to the hotter temperatures and slower for the higher elevation teas. 

Every four years tea bushes will be pruned, this is where 70% of the tea bush is cut away and it helps bring back vigour and growth and the results in a higher bush yield.

Pruning in action

Pruning is very labour intensive and extremely hard work. One person will typically prune anywhere between 400 - 500 bushes a day. The cut angle is extremely important. Cutting each stem at 45 degrees is essential because if it’s not done properly what will result is the bush being more susceptible to rot as the new leaves are formed.  

Have a look at the following video to understand just how labour intensive and skilful one needs to be with a pruning knife. [ URL needed} 

Hopefully this has given you an insight into our activities at the University of Tea. Next week we’ll continue with a look at re-planting.