How is tea plants categorized? Some of you might categorize it according to types of the pants. Some might differentiate it on the basis of the liquor while others can classify it according to the appearance of its dry tea leaves. But, a more scientific method of classifying teas is on the basis of their processing methods. This beverage is manufactured in different ways and these diverse methods of tea processing were developed in China first. Now, most tea producing regions follow these methods. DIVERSE TEA PROCESSING TECHNIQUES Now have a quick look at the different tea manufacturing processes. All these methods are conducted in a ‘climate-controlled facility’ so that there is no wastage because of fluctuating temperatures and excessive moisture.
  • Withering
It is wilting of fresh green leaves to reduce their moisture content and allow development of their flavor compounds. The freshly plucked tea leaves are dried by passing hot air from underneath the trough where the leaves are placed. Withering lowers the moisture content by around 30% and, at the same time, intensifies caffeine content and its flavors. Short withering produces a grassy flavor and greenish appearance while long withering intensifies aromatic flavors and darkens the color of the leaves.
  • Fixing
In this process, the browning of wilted tea leaves is controlled by applying heat. It is generally believed that, the more time it takes in fixing the leaves, the greater will be the aroma of the blend. Fixing can be done in various ways like –
  • Baking
  • Pan frying
  • Steaming
  • Using heated tumblers
Pan fried teas taste toasty while steamed ones taste green.
  • Oxidation
It involves further browning of tea leaves and more intensification of flavor compounds. For oxidation leaves are given exposure to oxygen and volatile compounds in the leaves starts undergoing chemical reactions. In this stage, polyphenolic compounds like thearubigin and theaflavin develop in the leaves. Oxidized leaves have a completely different taste and aroma than the un-oxidized ones.
  • Rolling
This process includes shaping of the processed leaves into tight form. In this manufacturing stage, wilted leaves are rolled and given desired shape according to the style. During rolling, sap and essential oils ooze out intensifying the taste of the tea leaves. Tightly rolled leaves retain greater freshness.
  • Drying
Leaves have to be kept moisture free and for that, drying is done at different stages in tea production. This drying enhances the flavor of the blend and ensures long life. Tea Leaves are dried slowly because rapid drying can destroy the flavor of the blend. Thus, they are some simple yet crucial tea processing techniques you should know.