How Tea Leaves are Processed
Tea processing is the method in which harvested tea leaves are transformed into the dried leaves which are ready for brewing. Tea processing involves several steps and the way the leaves are processed will affect the final cup of tea. There are many different types of tea processing, but here are the most common ones:
The first step in tea processing is withering. This process is done by air-drying freshly harvested leaves on a fabric tray in a shaded cool area. This process removes some of the moisture and softens the tea leaves to allow for further steps of processing.
Once the tea leaves have been withered, they are then rolled to shape, twist, and break the tea leaf’s cell walls. This helps to release some of the essential oils inside the tea leaf, releasing further flavour and aroma, which when blitzed with hot water will make our tea.
Oxidation / Fermentation
Once the leaves have been shaped and twisted, the third step in tea processing is oxidation or fermentation. This is solely done for black tea products. The leaves are exposed to oxygen, where the tea leaves will turn brown in colour and will naturally lose their grassy‐green aroma.
Firing / Drying
The final step in tea processing is firing or drying. The purpose of this is to prevent further oxidation of the leaves. This is done in hot ovens or drying machines which will dry out the tea leaves and also reduce their size. This process stops any further chemical changes taking place.
Tea leaves are processed through several steps, including withering, rolling, oxidation/fermentation, and firing/drying. Tea processing is an important part of making quality tea, as the way in which the tea leaves are processed will affect the final cup of tea that we drink.