how is tea processed

how is tea processed

How is Tea Processed?

Tea is an infused beverage derived from steeping processed leaves, buds, and stems of Camellia sinensis in hot water. From its origin in East Asia, tea has spread to many cultures and is now enjoyed around the world. But how is tea processed?


All teas come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. Depending on the type of tea, harvesting may occur multiple times a year; some teas are harvested multiple times within a single season.


After it is picked, the fresh leaf is spread out on conveyor belts and placed in a mesh basket to wither. For over 12 hours, the leaves are left in a warm, humid environment to reduce their moisture content.


Hand-rolled teas such as Japanese green teas and Indian Orthodox black teas require a rolling step. Rolls of the withered leaves are then passed through one or two rollers to break the cell walls and evenly distribute the different enzymes across the leaf.

Oolong and Black Teas

In some teas, primarily oolong and black teas, an oxidation step is added. This step is similar to fermentation in that it accelerates the breakdown of proteins in the leaf. Additionally, the oxidization step brings out the more typical fruity and sweet notes in these teas.


Once oxidation is complete, the leaves are quickly dried to prevent any further oxidation. This step, known as “fixing” or “firing,” is done in rotating drums to evenly heat the leaves and remove the moisture. After the leaves are dried, they are often passed through a sifter to remove any debris.

Sorting and Grading

Once the leaves are completely dry, they are sorted through by hand. This process is done to remove any stalks or other debris not picked up in the sifting process. The sorted leaves are then graded according to size, shape, and quality.


Finally, the graded leaves are packaged and made ready for sale. Leaves can be packaged in several different forms; for example, tea bags are usually filled with lower-quality, smaller leaves, and loose-leaf teas are filled with higher-quality, larger leaves.


Tea processing takes considerable time and effort, but the result is worth it in the end. By understanding the different steps in the tea processing process, tea lovers can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making any tea.


More Blog