415-584-8773 shop@holymtn.com

Tea Processing ... in Pictures

by Lydia Kung

White tea processing is simple; its minimalism accounts for much of its appeal. Not much equipment is required.

Regarding the manufacture of other teas, I have often referred to de-enzyming, rolling, and drying as if these steps are familiar to everyone. This was an unintentional oversight.

So here in pictures are examples of standard manufacturing steps. This is not only more effective and self-explanatory than wordy descriptions, but serves as a useful contrast when we visualize White tea processing and what was not done.

The Tea Field

Organic tea garden in Anhui province

Where it all begins: (this happens to be an organic garden in Anhui)

l

Weighing and Recording

Freshly picked leaves not just weighed but recorded with batch # info

Freshly picked leaves not just weighed but recorded with batch # info:

agsdi-piggy-bank

High-end Tea Processing

For one high end, single bud spring green, all steps are performed by one line

For one high end, single bud spring green, all steps are performed by one line:

agsdi-aperture

Indoor Withering

Then comes withering (indoors) using an electric fan

Then comes withering (indoors):

Tray Platform Withering

Some tea drying is done on platforms with fans underneath

Also done on tray platforms with fans underneath:

De-enyzming

Next comes de-enyzming, which is sometimes done by hand, moving leaves over a pan

Next comes de-enyzming, which is sometimes done by hand, moving leaves over a pan.

agsdi-leaves

Fresh Leaf Sorting

Machine for sorting fresh tea leaves

Sorting fresh leaves:

agsdi-eye

Color Sorting

Machine for sorting tea leaves by color

Color sorting:

agsdi-hamburger-menu

Shaping into Wiry Shapes

Shaping green tea leaves into wiry shapes:

\

Shaping into Pellet Shapes

Machine for coaxing tea leaves into pellet shapes

Another machine to coax leaves into pearl/pellet shapes:

Rolling the Leaves

  Closeup of tea leaf rolling machine

Rolling the leaves, using different pressure levels and durations:

agsdi-aspengrovestudios

Drying the Leaves

 Machine for drying tea leaves

Drying the leaves:

agsdi-hamburger-menu-circle

Hand Drying with Baskets

 Hand drying high-end tea leaves in baskets

Hand drying with baskets: (high end teas)

More Drying

 Another round of drying tea leaves to heighten aroma

Another round of drying to heighten aroma:

agsdi-hand-heart

Hand Sorting Finished Leaves

 Final hand sorting of finished tea leaves

And hand-sorting:

This would be a good time to return to White tea processing for a contrasting overview.

Withering

White tea indoor withering

The fresh leaves shown above stay on the racks for up to 2 days, with monitoring and air circulation.

Drying, Sorting and Inspecting

White tea on drying racks

After the natural withering, the leaves are dried mechanically, sorted and inspected.

There is still an assumption that many high end teas are completely hand processed; this is true for small batches. But even the superfine grade of Dragonwell is now machine shaped. Jasmine pearls, however, are still hand made.

So, often times, there is a combination of hand processing and machine work. For most of the teas you purchase, the teas are hand picked, not machine cut.

October 19, 2018