Cocoa Culture Spring

03 Nov

A Tropical Heaven deliberately kept secret by natural lovers…..     
but became famous overnight by a Chinese film “My Mother’s Tear”

Teck Guan Cocoa Village

Teck Guan Company started planting cocoa in 1957 and now has 6,000ha of cocoa plantations in Tawau and Semporna.  Teck Guan Cocoa Village is around 1000 acres in size. The sprawling estate has miles and miles of cocoa trees as far as the eye can see. From blooms to green fruits to ripe brown pods, it was a myriad of colors and the air was filled with the scent of cocoa.  Fruit trees are also grown around the area.

Tawau Town is the largest cocoa producer in Malaysia. This has led to the construction of the Malaysian Cocoa Research Centre in Apas Balung, located about 30 km from the town centre.

Before visiting to the Cocoa Village many visitors think cocoa is produced from coffee beans and are surprised to see the cocoa tree and fruit. Even Malaysians do not know this and a visit to the village is an educational trip for many.

Teck Guan Cocoa Village is one of the earliest plantations to cultivate cocoa in Tawau where the volcanic soil is most suitable for this crop.

Teck Guan Cocoa Village is more of a plantation and cocoa processing plant than a village with 1,000 acres cocoa trees. Tawau Town is the main producer and distributor of cocoa in the state of Sabah.

Zero-Shade Cocoa Planting A method by Teck Guan Chairman, Hong Ngit Ming. Cocoa yields have tripled in small estates and big plantations worldwide as well. 

Commercial planting of cocoa for the last 400 years was all under shade cover – Cocoa was originally found growing under jungle; it was thought that cocoa needed shade. Mr. Hong reasoned that since mango and citrus trees, first found growing in the jungle could be grown in the open fields without shade. The same could be applied to cocoa trees. Others before him attempted some isolated research and trial but all failed. Mr. Hong, through his own unique experiments and research made the breakthrough that cocoa trees could grow vigorously without shade in open fields. Hence the name ” ZERO-SHADE COCOA”.

1. Cocoa yields have tripled and hence lower cost of production – sustains the cocoa businesses during abnormal climatic condition and eroded commodity prices.

2. No more shade planting; hence lower cost of planting and no competition for moisture during drought.

3. Precocity – yield much quicker, hence lower capital outlay, earlier and higher payback.


AMELONADO cocoa : Since 1957 Teck Guan has been planting these specially selected, fine-flavored AMETONADO cocoa in the fertile volcanic soil around the Quoin Hill volcano area. Today Teck Guan is the largest and successful AMELONADO cocoa producer in Malaysia.

Most cocoa trees bear fruit in the fifth year. Some trees may early  yield pods in the third and forth years.

A cocoa tree reaches peek production in about 10 years and will continue producing pods for the next 12-13 years. Some 30-40 years old tree  still producing pods. This 50 years old Cocoa tree in Tawau is still producing pods. Cocoa farms are colorful.  Young cocoa leaves are large, red, and glossy.  The leave darken to green when mature. Moss and colorful lichens often cling to the bark of cocoa trees.

Thousands of tiny, white five-pedaled blossoms cluster together on the trunk and branches. Only 3% to 10% of the blossoms will mature into fruits.


The fruit grows as green or maroon pods on the trunk. Shaped like an elongated melon, these pods ripen to golden with multicolored flecks.

To harvest cocoa beans, first the ripe pods must be removed from the trees. Cocoa farmers  reach the cocoa pods with long handled, mitten-shaped steel tools. These tools reach the highest pods and snip them without wounding the soft bark of the tree.  A parang (machete) is used for pods growing closer to the ground.

A typical pod has 20 to 50 cream-colored beans.

Once the beans have been removed from the pods, the farm workers heap them into piles and covers them with mats.  A layer of pulp that surrounds the beans heats and ferments the beans. Fermentation  last about 1 week. This process  removes the raw, bitter taste of cocoa.  The sugars contained in the beans are converted to acid  during fermentation.

The process generates temperatures as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius), activating existing enzymes in the beans to form compounds that produce the chocolate flavor. When the beans are brown color they are now ready for drying.



Cocoa beans are dried to keep from spoiling. They are dried by laying on  matting under the sun.  This drying process takes several days. During the period the beans are turn frequently and checks for foreign matter and flat, broken or germinated beans.  During drying, beans lose nearly all their moisture and more than half their weight.

Dried beans from one pod weigh less than two ounces. About 400 beans make one pound of chocolate.


Entrance to Teck Guan Cocoa Village, A giant cocoa pod welcome visitors at the entrance gate. Here in the village, visitor learn the life of a cocoa tree, how the village began and how a cocoa flower  bloom and grow from a bud into a lovely red fruit.

Entrance to Teck Guan Cocoa Village


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