Just like tea making, tea processing is also an art. It includes various stages and procedures to make the perfect flavor and the accurate taste. The process, in which the green fresh leaves of the tea plant transformed into dried tea leaves for brewing tea, is called the tea processing.
The classification of the tea depends on the various process involved in making it. The four most significant steps for processing tea are oxidation of leaves, stopping of oxidation, allowing the formation of tea and finally the drying process. The interesting fact about the processing is that from the same plant, we get the splendid distinct aroma of white, green, oolong, black tea, yellow tea and post-fermented tea.
In this blog post, we will learn about the basic steps of tea processing and discuss elaborately what actually happens in each step.
Withering refers to the process of wilting fresh green tea leaves. In this stage, the moisture of the leaves is taken out that allows the flavour compounds to be included. Withering can be done in outdoors; however, controlled withering usually takes place in indoors. During this procedure, the moisture of the leaves reduces by about 30% and, the tea leaves become ready for the next step, which is fixing.
This process is also known as the ‘kill-green’ process, where enzymatic browning of the wilted leaves is controlled by heat. Fixing is carried through by steaming, pan firing, baking or with the help of heated tumblers.
Oxidation or fermentation is the stage where browning of the leaves takes place and the flavours are increased. This process requires controlled temperature about 25-30 degree C. The withered and rolled leaves are spread out on long and wide places for certain hours to complete the process of fermentation and the time span of the fermentation depends on the types of the tea being made.
When tea leaves are plucked from the plant, a chemical reaction starts in the leaves as the leaves are exposed to Oxygen. To acquire the perfect briskness and the brightness, oxidation or fermentation is indispensable.
After oxidation, the leaves are sent to the rolling process, where leaves are processed and shaped. Depending on the type of tea the leaves, rolling is done into various shapes like wiry, kneaded, rolled pallets etc.
It is the last and final stage of tea processing. In this stage, the moisture of the leaves is completely dried out. After concluding this process, the moisture-free leaves are sent to packaging process and after that, the tea is ready to reach the stores.
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