Sep 062012

In Taiwan,  leaves of tea are called   “tea rice” due to the fact that they appear like rice in size, semi spherical in shape as  tea leaves that have been fermented.  The entire procedure demands  a complicated and intricate process in order to produce quality tea in terms of color, taste and smell.  Here are 10 steps followed in the processing of tea:

Step 1  Picking


  • Today, tea-leaves are harvested by hand  or by machine.
  • Picking by hand is the recommended  method of harvesting premium, superior grade leaves. Before, tea planters  harvested the tea leaves with the use of  the index finger and thumb  to clamp the stem and broke the leaves off quickly.  Today,however,  many farmers have used more time- savingand less  labor-intensive methods of snipping the stem with the use of an attached blade to the index finger.
  • Leaves are harvested mostly as young leaves and as buds.  It is highly critical to preserve the leaf’s surface to the product’s quality so much care is given during harvesting not to cause the leaves any damage .

Step 2 Wilting

  • After picking, leaves are placed in baskets made of bamboo and  driedout in the sun or with a machine blowing hot air  to remove moisture and oxidize the leaves.
  • When the baskets are placed indoors for drying, the leaves are carefully stirred and so that their cells are aired which assists in their fermentation. Referred to as “waving of the leaves”,  this can also be done with the use of a machine.

Step 3 Fermentation

  • Fermentation is the  process when moisture is removed from the leaves and their   cells get air. If the moisture is lost too quickly without sufficient fermentation,   the cells will dehydrate and die and the tea produced will be useless.


  • Too much stirring of the leaves after they have lost  moisture from their edges will also turn the leaves red and prevent the cells from releasing moisture to finish the process of fermentation.  The tea produced will be bitter in taste and appear bloated.
  • Preservation of the leaves is crucial because scarring or breaking the leaves will produce inferior tea as it impacts  the fermentation process.

Step 4Panning


  • To stop fermentation, the  tea leaves have to be steamed or fried in a pan—to  “kill” or “steam” the leaves.
  • This process removes the leaves’  odor. The stem and veins of the leaves also become more flexible and a little sticky as moisture is removed from the leaves, making  them less likely to break in the next procedure.

Step 5Kneading


  •  Fired leaves are placed in  rollers to facilitate steeping when the leaves slowly curl and tighten up as they are stirred around.  Sapproduced by this process sticks to the leaves  andis dissolved rapidly in the boiled  water , producing aromatic tea.
  • Various tea types would need different amounts  of kneading.  Pouchong tea gets  its shape from an added  kneading step as a cloth is wrapped around the leaves like a ball and  pressed by hand or by machine.
  • During this step, the cloth has to be unrolled from time to time , spread out the leaves so that heat is then released and this procedure is repeated many times. The more often this is done, the more the resulting product  will be tightly wrapped.

Step 6Drying

  • In order tototally stop the leaves from further fermenting  and decrease volume so that it is easy to store, the kneaded leaves are driedwith a machine, using very high heat to “kill”   enzymes and decrease moisture content  to below 5%.
  • The leaves are then arranged , spread  on trays, and put inside a dryer.  To ensure complete drying, the leaves are dried twice as  drying is accomplished between 70-80% during the first drying and then the leaves are taken out of  the dryer and left to cool.  Once cool, they are dried again.
  • Dried leaves are called “rough or base tea”.

Step 7Refining

  • Refining is a crucial  step in  the processing of tea.  During this procedure,  thetea-leaves are classified  according to size as appearance is an important consideration when consumers buy their tea and measures are taken to make sure that the  taste is never compromised.
  • Leaves that are too large  are cut up to the ideal size, unnecessary parts like stems are also removed and their shapes are accentuated by machine for reshaping. Any  loose powder that results from this procedure is also removed to ensure that leaves produced are of superior grade.

Step 8Roasting


  • Slow roasting of Refined leaves is done to release their original scent.  Depending on the leaf variety, a little roasting (raw tea), medium-level roasting (raw-ripe tea) and excessive roasting (ripe tea) are used.
  • “Raw tea” smells of  a rich scent and makes a light-colored liquid.  “Ripe tea” is not as fragrantcompared to raw tea but its taste is also unique.

Step 9  {Scenting}

Jasmine tea, which has always been popular among tea drinkers,  is a perfect example of oriental tea with floral scent.  Not all tea types are scented but the most usual floral scents include jasmine, osmanthus,  chrysanthemums which  are picked while in full bloom.  Infusion is used to give the  leaves the selected floral scent  and the procedure can be repeated as much as three times for maximum effect.

Step 10 {Packaging}


The steps of roasting and scenting the tea finishes  the processing of  tea. The tea leaves are generally stored in big cans where the customers can make their choice.    One last procedure  after a customer has chosen the tea is packaging. There are many  methods of packaging but the most common uses plastic bags that are sealed with a band or twisted or using vacuum seal which keeps the tea fresh longer.  If the tea will be consumed right away, the packaging method is no longer critical

I.       History of  Taiwanese Tea

II.      The Oolong Tea-Growing Regions of Taiwan

III.     Growing Wu Long  ( wu long ) Tea in Taiwan

IV.     Taiwan Tea Varietals

V.      Varieties of Tea

VI.    Tea Processing

VII.    How to Make Oolong ( Wu Long ) Tea



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