Friday, April 9, 2010

Tea Processing


The basic tea processing goes through these following steps:

1. Heating/pan frying
2. Rolling/shaping
3. Drying

The end product of the tea in the teacup
takes on the personality of the person who processes the tea leaves.
There are two methods to processing tea - hand processing and machine processing.
Hand processing has inconsistencies and the machine processing has the ability
 to maintain the consistency of the end product.
There are slight variations depending on the types of tea that
is being processed to achieve the end product.

Heating - to de-enzyme

To prevent the green tea leaves from turning black, the enzyme that
is present and responsible for this oxidation, has to go through an initial heating process.
To achieve green tea there must be no oxidation in its early stages of processing.
The tea is usually pan fried or roasted to achieve the right aroma,
as too little or uneven heating will cause this aroma to be lost.
Too much heat or over heating will yield a burnt flavor.

Rolling or shaping

Rolling or shaping the tea leaf is about timing and experience.
This part of the processing enables the tea leaf to attain a deeper flavor.
This is where the hard work is because knowing when to roll
 the leaves entails knowing how soft the leaves have to be between step 1 and step 2.
The rolling or shaping process helps to distribute the moisture
 evenly and prevents the tea leaves from prematurely drying out.
Failing to achieve this will lead to burns and powdering of the tea leaves.

This is the final part in removing the moisture out of the tea leaves,
as there are different moisture levels at different areas of the tea leaves.
This process has to be done evenly.
Uneven drying will cause the tea leaves to taste and smell musty and rancid.

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