Tea bushes first produce buds which will become leaves that grow larger over time. As they grow their chemical content changes and their flavour changes. The tea picker will choose the leaves according to the type of tea which is being produced.
The more expensive teas are hand picked. A skilled picker must select the right leaves, and pick them using a special method of twisting and plucking to prevent any damage. The process is extremely labour intensive, a good picker will collect up to 2kg of tea leaves for every 10 hour shift which produces about 500g of dried tea.
A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, at 30 years of age, it will be too old to be productive. The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for around 100 years. The season of tea-picking depends on the local climate and therefore varies from area to area.