Natela Gujabidze's Georgian Black
It’s is an orthodox-process black tea made by teamaker Natela Gujabidze in the village of Nagobileui, near Guria’s regional capital, Ozurgeti, in western Georgia. Although Georgian tea was first planted commercially in 1890, very little has been made commercially in the mid-to-late 20th century because they adopted mechanized methods which increased tonnage but decreased quality and the demand collapsed. However, people like Natela would still make tea at home from home use.
Natela first learned from her mother-in-law how to pluck and make tea at the age of 17. She worked in the Soviet tea fields for 15 years, eventually becoming a foreman of the tea pluckers. She traveled to China in 1977 to learn more tea processing techniques. Natela is a founder of the Georgian Handmade Tea-Makers Association. As of 2004, she was still teaching young people to hand make tea.
The basic overview of the process: She plucks the leaves into a large basket from her family tea garden, then lays it out to wither for up to 18 hours on her farmhouse veranda. The process she prefers for rolling is to use a large bow and a motion similar to kneading a large lump of bread dough, though other members of the Association use other techniques (such as using something that looks like a washboard and rolling a “log” of tea leaves up and down it). The bowl method is supposedly how tea was rolled before the invention of the mechanized rolling machines. Rolling takes about half an hour. She covers the bowl with a damp cloth to keep the tea cool while it oxidizes for 4-8 hours; it’s then spread out to sun-dry.