Processing Tea

Tea processing is a multi-step process that transforms freshly harvested tea leaves into the various types of tea that are enjoyed around the world.

The first step is withering, during which the freshly harvested leaves are spread out to wilt and lose moisture. This process helps to soften the leaves and prepare them for rolling, the next step. The leaves are either rolled by hand or with a machine, which breaks down the cell walls and releases flavorful oils and juices inside the leaves.

The third step, oxidation, is the most important in determining the type of tea produced. For black tea, the rolled leaves are spread out and allowed to oxidize in a warm, humid environment for several hours, while green tea leaves are immediately steamed or pan-fried to halt the oxidation process, resulting in a more delicate and vegetal flavor.

After oxidation, the leaves are dried to remove any remaining moisture and preserve the flavor and aroma. This is typically done using large drying machines or by spreading the leaves out in the sun.

Finally, the dried tea leaves are sorted by size and quality, and then packaged for shipment and sale. This step ensures that tea drinkers receive a high-quality product that is free of impurities and delivers the unique flavor and aroma that they expect.

Overall, tea processing requires careful attention to detail and a deep understanding of the desired end product. By withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying, and sorting the tea leaves, tea producers can create a wide variety of teas that offer unique flavors and aromas to tea lovers around the world.