Tea Making Left 02
The manufacturing process requires the same care and attention as growing to preserve the quality of the harvested teas. Within 24 hours after plucking, leaves are transported to nearby factories to be processed and packed using one of two manufacturing processes—the Orthodox method for loose teas or the Cut, Tear, and Curl method for bagged teas. The steps to each are the same with only a minor difference in the second stage.
This four-step process begins with Withering to reduce the water content of the freshly picked leaves. By passing air through and over the leaves for 12-17 hours, the moisture content decreases by up to 70% and the leaves dry out gently. Rolling, the second step, twists the leaves horizontally until they’re thin and wiry. Carefully breaking the leaves releases enzymes that allow the next step to occur. With the Cut, Tear, and Curl method, the leaves are cut into small, easy-to-pack pieces instead of rolling—without altering the quality of the tea.
The third step, Oxidation, determines how strong a tea is, as well as its flavour and colour. The differing amounts of oxidation determine the tea type: black teas are fully oxidized, oolong and red teas are partially oxidized, and green and white teas are not oxidized at all. The final step is to Dry the leaves with hot air dryers to stop the oxidation process and prepare them for packing and travel. With less than 3% moisture content, the tea is ready to be sorted and packed.
All teas are graded and sorted before they’re packed. Because different sized leaves brew at different speeds, the leaves are sifted into batches of the same size, type, and appearance. Packed into foil-lined paper sacks or tea chests, the leaves are ready to travel.