Tea Factories are much more industrial than most people expect. In fact, tea factories are the largest electricity consumers in Malawi - effectively supporting the electrical grid (as spotty as it can be in Malawi). 

 Just like any industrial production line, a team of people are needed to keep things running smoothly down the line. Each step relies on the prior one - mistakes early in the line are expensive to fix. 

Just like any industrial production line, a team of people are needed to keep things running smoothly down the line. Each step relies on the prior one - mistakes early in the line are expensive to fix. 

Tea estate managers are farmers and factory managers - it's a heavy responsibility, balancing a labor intensive farm, machinery and factory staff needs, and commercial demands for increasingly specialized products. CTC lines like the one above serve commodity tea markets (what ends up in your bottled iced tea and English Breakfast). 

 This guy was putting on a show for camera. Typical Malawian positivity while working hard. 

This guy was putting on a show for camera. Typical Malawian positivity while working hard. 

While some factories focus on CTC commodity grades, others are a bit more flexible, producing orthodox and LTP teas (old school technique). These teas usually have larger leaf sizes and skew toward the specialty market and more complex flavors. Different equipment too.

 Some orthodox rollers. These machines make larger tea leaf grades and specialty teas. 

Some orthodox rollers. These machines make larger tea leaf grades and specialty teas. 

Old factories, new gear. This is a new line for ctc green teas. 

 New gear for green tea. 

New gear for green tea. 

 CTC lines 

CTC lines