Updated: Apr 15, 2018
Today’s post is a continuation of my previous post. I will continue to write about the incredible journey that it takes to create the perfect tea leaf. The production of tea involves a fantastic process that requires hard-work, dedication and precision. For many of us to appreciate the cup of tea we drink daily, it is important to know the process involved in the tea production. As I mentioned in my previous post, each tea leaf is hand picked, which involves a lot of hard work.
So, what happens to the tea leaves afterwards?
After the tea leaves are picked, they undergo a special process of withering for about 12 hours. Withering is important for removing moisture and promoting enzyme activity to enable chemical changes within the leaves. It is worth noting that the withering process is essential to produce black teas, oolong teas and white teas, as this helps with another process that the tea leaves go through – oxidation. Oxidation is essential to create the flavours and characteristics of the oolong, white and black teas. However, the green and yellow teas are normally prevented from oxidation. If I were to explain how oxidation works through an analogy, it would be the same thing as when you chop an apple in half and it turns brown when you leave it to the side. The same thing happens to the tea leaves, you leave them to oxidise and they turn brown. For this reason, oxidation is an essential process for black, oolong and white teas, but unnecessary for green and yellow teas.
The tea leaves also go through a process of fermentation, alongside oxidation. These two different processes determine the production of different varieties of tea and the quality of the tea produced. These processes control the taste, colour, aroma and nutrition values of the tea, including the life span of the tea. For example, unfermented tea, such as green tea has a shorter lifespan than fermented tea, such as Pu’er tea, which can be kept for decades. Generally, tea is categorised into 6 basic groups: black, green, oolong, white, Pu'er, and yellow tea.
What is interesting about the production of tea is that although the process of fermentation and oxidation varies from tea to tea, all types of tea go through several important production steps, such as pan firing, rolling, roasting, and sieving.
It is amazing how a slight change in the processing of the tea leaves, changes the type of tea it produces.
The world of tea is an amazing place and I hope you enjoyed learning about the journey it takes to create the perfect tea leaf. If you feel like you could enjoy a really nice cup of tea after learning about it, you can check our teas here.