Kayu Aro Jambi, The Tea Plantation

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage across the globe, second only to water, and can be found almost anywhere in almost every country. Tea has long been associated with health benefits, with some forms of tea even being classified as medicinal. Tea has also become a fundamental item amongst a number of cultures with events such as tea parties, afternoon tea and tea ceremonies. From Europe to the Far East, and back to Indonesia, drinking tea is not limited to tradition but rather a daily habit.

Tea Fields of Kayu Aro plantation, Jambi
Tea Fields of Kayu Aro plantation, Jambi (Source : ragamwisandkulinerindo.blogspot.co.id)

There arenumerous types of tea, thousands of plantations and even more brands, and while it may be hard to say which tea is the best, there is no doubt that KayuAro Tea is ranked among the highest levels of quality and taste in the world. Grown in the highlands of the Kerinci Province, Kayu Aro is packaged and sold around the world, once the favorite amongst royalty in The Netherlands and The United Kingdom. The plantation is located in Kerinci Valley, Sungai PenuhJambiSumatra.

The Kayu Aro plantation was the first tea plantation in Indonesia. It was started by a Dutch East Indies company in 1925, during the colonial period and was later taken over by the Indonesian Government in 1959. Kayu Aro is the second largest tea plantation in the world after the Darjeeling Tea Plantation in India. It sits at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level and covers approximately 2,500 hectares. The tea grown in KayuAro is orthodox tea, or black tea as it is better known.

Kayu Aro plantation, Jambi
Kayu Aro plantation, Jambi (Source : pojokinfounik.com)

The process of tea making in Kayu Aro is still highly traditional. No preservatives or dyes are added, and additionally, workers are forbidden the use of cosmetics while processing the tea.

Each year, Kayu Aro Tea Plantation produces 5,500 tons of black tea. The highest grade is exported to Europe, the Middle East, United States and Asia, while the lower grades are sold locally.

ACTIVITIES

There are no hotels around the Kayu Aro Plantation, but a lovely homestay while enjoying a cup of hot tea is a favorite amongst visitors to the area.

A greater variety of accommodations can be found in Sungai Penuh, but do not expect to find any kind of luxury hotels. Budget hotels and guest houses in Sungai Penuh are simple, but comfortable and provide good service.

Looking for a tranquil spot to clear your mind and refresh your body amidst fresh mountain air, cool breeze and natural surroundings? Kayu Aro may be the ideal spot. Stroll through the vast expanses of tea, or even help the workers pick the shoots that are ready to be processed.

The factories that were built during the creation of the plantation have not changed much since 1925, nor has much of the entire management process. Observe the entire procedure followed in the production of the tea.

First, of course,is the maintenance of the plants, followed by the careful plucking of the tea leaves. Next is the withering process which is one of the most critical steps in tea production. Withering uses a controlled balance of temperature, moisture and air-flow to reduce the moisture in the leaves to the desired level. The goal of withering is to reduce the grassy aroma in the tea while allowing the flavor compounds in the tea to develop. This is the longest process in the manufacturing and in the Kayu Aro Plantation takes between 18-22 hours. After withering, the tea is hung to dry before being loaded into lorries for transportation to the mill. Next is the fermentation process, followed by the testing process. The teas are then separated into various batches based on quality.

For lovers of the great outdoors, several other points of interest are located nearby, such as Mount KerinciLake Kerinci, and the Kerinci Seblat National Park.

GET THERE

Getting to Kayu Aro Tea Plantation follows the same route as the path to Mount Kerinci in the direction of Sungai Penuh. The two closest airports to Sungai Penuh, capital city of Kerinci District, are Jambi and Padang.

Getting to Sungai Penuh from Jambi city takes about 10 hours by car over a distance of approximately 500 km. This can be done using public transportation or rental car. Jambi airport serves just Jakarta and Batam.

The alternative route through Padang is much faster, at a total distance of under 300 kilometers. Sungai Penuh can be reached via public transport, car rental or private car, and should take between 5-6 hours. Minangkabau International Airport in Padang serves Jakarta, MedanPekanbaru, Batam and Kuala Lumpur.

Kayu Aro is about an hour’s drive from Sungai Penuh.

 

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