We use the same technology as the others do. We pluck tea, sun and mince it or we don’t mince it (if we make loose tea) ferment and dry. After that we season it. It is that simple. If we give a wide description of our production operation, than we share our technology secrets with you and these secrets make our production different from other sorts of Russian tea. We reveal some of our secrets and we keep some things secret, until the time comes…
So let’s begin.
That is spring fireweed at its best!
A young, juicy shoot, full of vitamins, sugars and minerals. It is in the full of its health! Apparently, it is ready to share with people. These were our ideas in 2011.
Since then, Vyatsky Spring Ivan-Tea has been under production. If springs are early, then we start plucking at the third decade of May. We gather soft plant tops and pack them into sacks.
Fireweed fields restore after the spring plucking. The shoots keep on growing and new stems appear. These new stems blossom, produce seeds and grow leaves.
During the period of mass flowering, from the 3rd decade of June to the first decade of July, we prepare materials for the Midsummer tea. We gather flowering heads together with fresh, juicy leaves. We also gather fireweed flowers to use them as ingredients.
After the gathering of the Midsummer tea, we start to gather materials for the Summer tea that mainly consists of the leaves. In order to improve the fermentation and health benefits, we also gather short shoots from the upper part of the plant ( a part of a shoot that is a little bit lower than a blossoming head full of seedpods with seeds and fluff).
Air-sunlight drying of materials
After the gathering, we begin to dry the materials in the open air, on the tables under shelter. We have shadowed shelters and made of polycarbonate. The thing is that air-sunlight drying goes faster under transparent shelters. At the same time, we have to turn the materials more often to prevent the drying up.
As we process the materials from transparent shelters, the materials from shadowed shelters become ready for further processing. Thus, we have no emergency jobs and all the processes go smoothly and steadily.
When producing granulated tea, we use industrial mincing machines to mince dried tea materials. Tea mincing has two advantages: the fermentation processes go better and when brewing, more useful ingredients occur in the brew and the brewing goes faster. But when we produce loose tea, dried leaves go straight to fermentation sections.
We perform the fermentation in facilities equipped with temperature and humidity metering devices, heaters and steam humidifiers. We are planning to equip the facilities with conditioners and air composition sensors. The fermentation of our tea consists of two steps. The first step consists of 3 phases. During the first phase, we level moisture of freshly minced tea in boxes.
During the second phase, the fermenting mass is getting to the right condition. This process is accompanied with a gradual self-heating of the tea mass with the help of microorganisms, which live on fireweed. We create an appropriate environment for them to improve their activity. That is the longest phase of all three.
At the third stage, the tea mass finally gets to the right condition. This tea mass can be called the tea. Every phase has different temperature regimes and air humidity. We regulate them to archive better performance of all processes. For obvious reasons we don’t show photos and don’t give details on temperatures of every phase.
During every phase we turn and mix the tea mass and control the fermentation processes. During the fermentation, the aromas in the facilities change from grassy to fruity and finally to wine. Basically, the fermentation is attenuation of sugars and that is why we have the aromas like in a wine cellar. At the same time, many minerals in the tea are being oxidized. We regulate temperatures and humidity on every phase, in order to make all fermentation and oxidizing processes go smoothly and completely.
The second and the final fermentation phase takes place outside, under shelter, together with the airing and the drying. Usually, the tea is being taken from boxes and put on the tables in the evening. Depending on the tea readiness in boxes, we put tea with a thin layer or make small or big “hills” of tea. Thus, we regulate the fermentation at the second phase. A night goes by and in the morning, we even the tea on the tables and the drying process begins. Even during the drying, the fermentation goes on, but it slowly stops as far as the tea dries out.
We use tables under shelter made of polycarbonate to dry the tea in the open air. The drying in the natural conditions, in the wind and with the sun light – that is the key moment of our Vyatsky tea production technology.
During the drying, the tea absorbs the energies of the wind and the Sun and keeps all useful properties. We don’t boost the drying process, as it always causes the loss of useful properties. We just let things flow naturally and steadily.
We have many drying tables and even in bad weather we can air the tea and just wait for good weather when we can continue the drying on the tables. It order to avoid drying in bad weather, we observe the changes of atmospheric pressure. As soon as the atmospheric pressure decreases, we reduce the gathering as we don’t need much of wet tea at the raining period. As the pressure increases, we speed up the gathering by increasing the tea volumes, to cover all the tables with tea.
We store dried tea in paper bags for at least three months before we sell it. The tea gets ripe during these months. We call this process the dry after-fermentation: humidity is about 8-10% and the fermentation still in progress. Thus, the more mature the tea is the tastier and more aromatic it is.
That is why, we advise you to pay attention to a date of manufacture on the packages and ask for more mature tea. The best before date that is given by tea manufacturers is just a formality that we have to observe. Ivan-tea is a new product (actually a blast from the past). And even now, fireweed is not considered to be tea but it is regarded as a tea surrogate or a tea beverage or even a herbal tea.
Production of natural additives
The tea season ends in August. And we can produce tea additives until October. For example, we gather rowan berries and chokeberries in autumn. The weather in autumn differs from the summer weather and the air-sunlight drying goes slower. We refine the dried berries as refined berries give more useful elements to tea.
Some additives are being refined even earlier, for example, in August, we gather cherry leaves, cut and dry them. A cherry leaf gives its aroma and useful properties to fireweed. In summer, we gather the chaga mushroom. Sometimes, it becomes huge and it is not always easy to gather it. This mushroom grows high on a birch’s body and a gatherer should be skilled and physically vigorous.
The next step is much easier: we cut the mushroom and put it on the tables for drying. Since 2014, we have been gathering fir needles and producing a fir needle additive to our tea. This tea is on the shelves since 2014. It has just an incredible aroma, as if you are bathing in a Russian bath with a fir sauna whisk and drink fireweed tea. Drink this tea with honey, you just have to try it!
We can produce different additives to tea. We produce some new additives and we are planning something new in the next season. All in all, the additives to our tea are always natural (leaves, berries, herbs, etc.). We also prefer to cut the additives to take more useful elements from them.