Crop-to-cup

Crop To Cup

From the moment the leaves are plucked to the day they land in your teacup, The Tea Centre oversees the ethical and sustainable trade of our tea. This is our ‘crop to cup’ philosophy.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘paddock-to-plate’ but what about ‘crop to cup’? This phrase is The Tea Centre’s pledge to always consciously craft our 150+ loose leaf collection with ethical sourcing, sustainability, and the finest quality tea in mind. 

In this Tea Journal entry, we’re walking you through the four distinct steps in our ‘crop to cup’ distribution chain. Come embark on a tea journey with us.

Starting at the crop: Sourcing

There’s a common misconception that ‘crop to cup’ means that we directly source all of our tea from one place. This couldn’t be further from the truth! 

The Tea Centre works with nine trusted and certified suppliers in Australia and abroad to source our 150+ collection from regenerative tea gardens around the world. 

Furthermore, did you know that we purposefully diversify how we source our tea? We do this to not only provide sippers with plenty of choice but to ensure that our business does not overharvest or place undue pressure on any single tea garden. 

With some partnerships spanning close to three decades, The Tea Centre can attest that every one of our suppliers is the cream of the crop when it comes to their speciality fields. 

Specifically, The Tea Centre has carefully curated decade-long relationships with suppliers who specialise in the following areas: naturopathic herbals, high-grade, single-origin, Australian-grown, certified organic, and European Union quality-tested teas.

What you’ll find in common with all our suppliers, however, is an absence of mass-produced teas. Our suppliers deal only with the finest quality teas.

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One example of this is The Tea Centre’s relationship with Kelani Valley Plantations. TC Orange Pekoe and several of our breakfast blends come from Kelani, a company whose goals and focuses align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

These goals include reducing poverty within their community and enacting regenerative environmental practices through socially responsible approaches to tea production. You can read more about Kelani here.

What’s more, our Ceylon supplier was the first tea company in Sri Lanka to receive the Official Certification for Quality Assurance for Food Safety and Good Manufacturing Practices of Tea. This award comes from the Sri Lanka Tea Board, which has been the main administrative body of the Sri Lankan tea industry since 1976.

2) From the tip of tea plant: Plucking

We’ve discussed how we source our tea and now it’s time to harvest! How one harvest tea is just as important as where it’s from, which is why The Tea Centre boasts seven orthodox teas and a dozen hand-plucked loose leaf brews.

What are orthodox teas, you ask? Orthodox teas such as Joonktollee Assam and Makaibari Darjeeling are special because their entire harvesting and production process is done the traditional way—by hand.

Hand-picked from the very tip of the tea plant, orthodox loose leaf is also withered, rolled, oxidated, and fired completely by hand too! Another advantage of the orthodox method is that farmers are able to better maintain the integrity of the whole leaf. This means the tea that eventually lands in your teacup still retains all of its original and complex flavours.

While The Tea Centre loves supporting tea farmers via the orthodox tea supply chain, we’re also proud to stock CTC (crush, tear, curl) machine-produced teas like Assam Dimakusi and TC Broken Orange Pekoe.

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This is because CTC teas have historically democratised tea drinking for all classes, and remain an affordable option to this day! What’s more, some CTC teas like Assam Dimakusi still support local pickers who hand-harvest the tea. In this case, ‘CTC’ simply denotes that the final stage in the production process was done by machine. 

Speaking of abbreviations, what the FTGFOP is tea grading? While this long jumble of letters is unfamiliar to some, The Tea Centre does offer several high-grade teas to cater for our customers with discerning palates! 

If you would like to learn more about tea grading and how the highest grade teas are plucked from the very top of the tea plant, read our Tea Journal entry here.

3) A tea master’s gift: Blending

Another important aspect of The Tea Centre’s crop-to-cup philosophy is the blending of our fusion teas and herbal tisanes. Did you know that the majority of our fusion teas are carefully blended in Germany by local tea sommeliers? 

Delicious brews like our bestselling Stockholm Blend are the work of master craftspeople who The Tea Centre has worked closely with since 1993. 

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Not only are these recipes honed by the best people in the trade, but the tea itself also undergoes rigorous quality testing. As a member of The German Tea Association, our exporters are committed to observing the Code of Practice for Quality Control. 

This code is set out by the European Union, the world’s foremost leader in regulating the use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture. The Tea Centre follows such strict guidelines to ensure that every tea we sell is the best it can possibly be!

On top of this, the recipes behind our wellbeing teas are specially designed with our customer’s holistic health in mind! No matter the ailment, The Tea Centre has the herbal tisane to help. 

For example, beautiful brews like pregnancy tea (for mums) and tranquil tummy (for digestion) are the incredible handiwork of celebrated Australian naturopath Mim Beim! First created for The Tea Centre over 20 years ago, Mim’s nourishing naturopathic blends to this day remain in high demand. You can find them here.

4) The last step: Brewing

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The last chapter is our tea journey is here and is also where you—the customer—come into the story! After such a long and considered process, The Tea Centre wants to ensure that every tea you brew is made to perfection. 

That’s why we have our online brewing guide and also upload weekly Tea Journal entries to help educate customers on everything tea (including how to brew it)!

The Tea Centre stores are also fully stocked with tasting manuals, helpful teawares, and the most helpful guides you could possibly have一our Tea Centre staff! 

Each and every one of our loose leaf experts is specially trained to provide you with the tea recommendations that best suit your lifestyle and equip you with all the brewing tools you need. 

Sourcing, Plucking, Blending, and Brewing: this is The Tea Centre’s crop to cup guarantee! 

If you would like to learn more about this philosophy or see it in action, get excited about our soon-to-launch Tea Tailoring initiative! An in-store service you can book online, Tea Tailoring will give customers the opportunity to have one-on-one tea consultations with our loose leaf experts.

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