First the leaves are removed from the plant generally by hand. Picked leaves are generally the bud or the bud and the tip three leaves.
** I am always brought to remembrance the people who do the picking and I often
wonder what they feel about us.**
The leaves are then sorted and any stem, twig or broke leaves are removed.
The leaves are then processed by laying them out to wilt for several hours. This process allows the leaves to be processed further without crumbling.
The next process is where the teas develop their personality. The leaves are twisted, rolled or pressed. This process starts the leaves into oxidation by releasing enzymes and oils into the air.
The leaves are then left to rest being laid out and allow the oxygen to mix with the released oils and enzymes. This changes the color of the tealeaves. The length of time that they are allowed to be exposed to this process crated the tea that they will become.
White Tea – no oxidation, not wilted
Yellow Tea – not oxidized, not wilted and allowed to yellow
Green Tea – not oxidized, not wilted
Oolong – wilted, bruised and partially oxidized
Black Tea – Wilted, crushed and fully oxidized
Pu-erh – Post fermented and aged
The leaves are next fired, this dries them out and seals in the above processes.
**There is also a faster CTC or Crush-ea-Curl method to produce tea, it has 5 steps but I just wanted to make you aware of it.