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Q&A about mechanical tea picking

Apr 30, 2022

Q: Why develop mechanical tea picking?

A: In the past 10 years, especially since the outbreak of the epidemic, the flow of tea pickers has been restricted, and the problem of "labor shortage" in spring has appeared in tea areas across the country. Spring tea cannot be picked on time, and summer and autumn tea can only be completely abandoned.

In addition, tea-producing areas are also facing the problem of aging tea pickers, and even the dilemma of tea land abandonment.

Q: What are the main difficulties in developing mechanical tea picking?
A: Most of China's tea-producing areas are in mountainous, hilly and steep slope areas, with complex terrain and non-standard tea garden construction specifications, which is a prominent problem that makes it difficult to promote and popularize tea picking machinery.

Q: Can mechanically picked tea greens make good-looking tea leaves?
A: At present, there is no suitable machinery to pick the leaves uniformly, young and complete buds, at least under the current scientific and technological conditions, it is difficult to industrialize. The development process of tea picking mechanization is incompatible with the current tea product structure, standard system, processing technology, processing equipment, etc. in China.

Q: What are the current types of tea picking machines in China?
A: At present, the tea picking machine models used in tea picking are mainly based on picking low-end bulk tea, and the types are mainly single, double, self-propelled, ride-by, etc. Among them, the tea picking machines with more applications are mainly single and double.

Q: Can the tea picking machine machinery currently developed be applied on a large scale?
Compared with the actual needs faced by the development of the tea industry, there is still a big gap in the research and application of China's tea picking machines.
First of all, there is a lack of picking machinery for famous teas. At present, the standard of fresh leaves picked by the machine cannot meet the requirements of famous tea, and the market acceptance is poor.
Secondly, large-scale promotion of machine tea picking needs to be coordinated with agricultural machinery and horticulture departments, which is inseparable from the tea plant varieties and standardized cultivation modes suitable for machine picking mechanisms.

Q: What is the future development direction of tea picking machines?
A: At present, the fresh leaves of tea are harvested, and only reciprocating cutting tea pickers are widely used in bulk tea production. China's famous tea intelligent tea picking machine is still in its infancy, and industrialization will take time.

Q: Why do people prefer hand-picked tea leaves?
A: For a long time, Chinese consumers' excessive pursuit of appearance has led most consumers to prefer hand-picked tea leaves. Hand-picked tea has a strong sensory judgment sensitivity, flexibility and selectivity, can make accurate judgment and mastery of the size, old tenderness and retention ratio of various tea standard buds. Therefore, most of the famous tea picking is still mainly hand-picked.

Q: What is the future direction of tea picking development in China?
A: The small, scattered and weak tea industry is the fundamental constraint to the mechanization of tea picking, and the future tea picking should walk on "two legs" and treat enterprises of different sizes differently. For enterprises that seek scale and aim at quality and efficiency, we should gradually promote mechanization; small and refined enterprises can launch handmade tea picking products that meet the consumption needs of niche and high-end consumer groups in the market.

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