How Tea Leaves are Processed
Tea is one of the oldest and most widely consumed beverages worldwide. Its unique flavour, versatility and versatility are attributed to a complex production process that results in a variety of tea blends. Understanding how tea leaves are processed can provide insight into the various types of tea available.
Harvesting and Withering
The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is typically harvested by hand. It is then withered to reduce the moisture content of the leaves. During the withering process, the tea leaves are placed on racks and circulated with air. This increases the leaf-to-air contact and causes them to soften and begin to oxidize.
Rolling and Oxidation
Once the leaves have reached the correct moisture level, they are rolled or formed into various shapes. This process mimics the crushing of the leaves and releases juice and enzymes. The enzymes come into contact with the oxygen in the air and oxidize, yielding the characteristic flavours and aromas associated with various tea types.
Drying and Firing
The tea leaves are then dried or fired, which halts the oxidation process. The drying process also removes excess moisture and helps to ensure a long-lasting shelf life for the tea. Tea leaves can be dried in various ways, including direct sunlight, ovens, and pan- or steam-firing.
Sorting and Blending
Once the leaves have been dried, they can be sorted into various grades based on size and leaf type. Tea leaves are then blended to create a variety of flavours and aromas. The blend ratio depends on the desired outcome of the tea and can range from a single type of leaf to multiple different types.
The last step in tea processing is packaging. The tea leaves are usually packaged in sachets, tins, or bags. After packaging, the tea is ready to be enjoyed.
In conclusion, tea processing involves a variety of steps, from harvesting and withering, to rolling and oxidation, to drying and firing, and finally sorting and blending. Each step plays an important role in obtaining the perfect type of tea. Understanding the process can help you appreciate the complexity behind the various types of tea available.