Growing up drinking BOH tea, my recent visit to BOH’s lowland tea plantation in Bukit Cheeding, Selangor, was an eye-opener. The leading tea grower in Malaysia, BOH owns four tea plantations (or tea gardens) in the country. Besides Bukit Cheeding, the other three are Boh, Sungei Palas and Fairlie, all located in Cameron Highlands.
BOH’s most famous tea gardens are of course those in Cameron Highlands due to their scenic rolling hills. However, BOH tea from all plantations are transported to Bukit Cheeding because this is where the leaves are packed to be sold. Bukit Cheeding is BOH’s only packing plant.
Bukit Cheeding also has the distinction of being the world’s only lowland tea garden with tea plants grown under oil palm trees, where these trees serve as protection for the tea plants against direct sunlight.
Because tea leaves wilt so quickly, they have to be processed and withered for sixteen hours at their respective plantations before they are transported to Bukit Cheeding. At this 1,300-acre tea garden and packing plant, more than a hundred tonnes of tea dust are packed monthly, in addition to a hundred tonnes of tea leaves and another eighty tonnes of tea bag dust (or 40 million tea bags at 2g per bag).
BOH only produces black tea. Green tea and the natural (or natural identical) flavours used in their tea blends are imported. From these, BOH boasts some thirty different blends, including instant tea. These are sold through 200 different products (or packing types). The proper term is: Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).
Approximately ten percent of the products are exported, mainly to Japan, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, as well as neighbouring countries, Thailand and Singapore. BOH products are also sold online via Amazon.com for the USA market. And of course, all products are available at BOH’s Sungei Palas showroom in Cameron Highlands.
Tea is a valuable commodity but maintaining the tea plantation and harvesting the tea (two leaves and the bud) are labour-intensive jobs. Harvesting cycle is every 20 days, so you can imagine! Good thing that tea plants can last forever. At Bukit Cheeding, about thirty workers take care of the tea garden while the factory runs with 60 staff per shift.
It is interesting to note that tea leaves, once processed, have no expiry date. They can be kept for a very long time, the longer the better. They have to be kept air tight, though. Tea, in fact, is not only a beverage. It can be used to absorb whatever unpleasant smell in the room, or cupboard, for example.
BOH’s Bukit Cheeding packing plant is closed to the public. However, an educational tour could be arranged through the Kuala Langat District Council. For more information about BOH, log on to the company’s official website HERE.
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