Tea Virgins of Kerala

Have you ever been at a tea field? Now it's time to see how the plant is collected.

It is said that the best tea needs not only two upper leaves but also tender hands of virgins who collect it tenderly whispering curative mantra. What you will see today is collection of tea at one of high-altitude tea plantation in Kerala, India located 1800 meters above the sea. Tender women start their work in the early morning.
They distribute along the field not to bother each other.
Long and manual labor follows.

Everything is done manually and according to every rule. They collect two upper leaves and buds. Omitting the fact of female exploitation, it should be accepted that the best tea can be collected only manually. Machines spoil the whole process. First and foremost, a machine will constantly grasp other small branches which are not needed in a finished product. Second, the integrity of a tea leaf won't be provided and thus, the quality of the whole process is not guaranteed. So, buds collected with the help of machines are used in cheap type of tea. The work is very complicated. They have to spend the whole day under the burning sun and treat tea tenderly and carefully. That's why the work requires hands of a woman as men are unable to carry out the same monotonous work the entire day. Nevertheless, the girls are eager to laugh and joke.
Collected buds are put into a special bag attached to the head.
Tea grows in the mountains that's why the women have to move along steep mountainous slopes.
The job of that manager consists in watching the amazing process of tea collection.
The girl was very shy and didn't want to participate in the photo session.
Beside the burning sun and tough work the girls deal with another problem. Leeches. There is a plenty of leeches both in summer and in spring. It is enough to spend some time standing on the wet ground and you will be attacked by leeches. The girls always have canes nearby which have to get rid of another leech.

Having filled all the bags the women go down the mountain to the warehouses. Every such bag weighs around 20-23 kg or around 40 pounds.
Waiting for the manager.

The manager checks the work.
The assistant weighs every bag and the manager records the numbers.
He doesn't seem to respect the people much.
Putting the numbers in a special book. Every woman's income depends on the amount of work done during her shift. It is possible to collect around 40 kg or 80 pounds of tea per day which will be sent to the workshops for further treatment. The most hard working ones will get 100-120 dollars per month. Enjoying another cup of perfect tea remind yourself of the hard labor invested in its collection. 
via ezheg


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