All traditional tea (think green and black varieties) starts as green leaves on the Camellia sinenis plant, native to China and India - this is where we source our leaves from. It all comes down to how the leaves are processed that makes the difference. We’ve broken down the processing steps below, from pick to sip.
1. Picking This is a delicate state of affairs and is mostly done by women due to their dexterity.
2. Withering The picked leaves are laid out to wither. This gets them nice and supple for the next part of the process without cracking or splitting the leaf.
3. Rolling The withered leaves are rolled, twisted or rubbed by machine or hand. This helps to break cells which then release enzymes in the leaf, leading us to...
4. Oxidisation The leaves are laid out again and the broken cells and enzymes absorb oxygen which browns the leaf and dramatically changes how the tea ends up tasting.
5. Drying/frying/steaming To stop the oxidation at the desired point heat is applied which stops the oxidizing enzymes, further dries the leaf, and locks in the aromas. Green tea undergoes this process after rolling to prevent oxidisation, keeping the leaf green.
6. Blending The resulting tea leaves are often blended with various other herbs, fruits and spices to add complimentary flavours to the tea base.
There you have it, tea! It’s then on you to follow the brewing guidelines, sit back and enjoy.