Tea Processing

Tea processing

The leaves are harvested from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) and transformed into dried leaves for brewing tea.

Classification:  Tea types are classified by the processing it goes through. Black, Green, White and Oolong.

Tea processing involves different manners and degrees of oxidation of the tea leaves, stopping the oxidation, forming the tea and drying it.

Each tea type’s flavour is determined by the type of cultivar[i] of the tea bush, the quality of the plucked tea leaves and the manner and quality of the production processing.

Tea manufacturing

It all starts with the two leaves.

The tea leaves are harvested from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis)

Then they are processed and graded at a tea factory into black, green, white and Oolong.

Next, the tea leaves are classified by size, type and appearance.  These are sometimes named by the region.  Then they are packed into tea chests.


The most common tea is the Black tea.  This is processed in two ways: Orthodox and CTC

Orthodox methods


At this stage the water content is reduced – over a wire mesh, air is passed through the leaves drying the leaves gently.  Now the leaves are ready to be rolled.


Leaves are rolled either by hand or machines. This process makes the leaves thin and wiry. 


Leaves go through oxidation; this involves leaves being kept at a certain temperature (26 Celsius) where the enzymes of the leaves react with the air thereby changing the colour from green to brown.  The degree of oxidation time determines the colour, taste and strength of each tea.

After Oxidation, leaves are passed through hot air dryers, now the tea is ready to be sorted and packed.

The Cut, Tear and Curl (CTC) method

Leaves are withered, then put through rollers (the rollers have small, sharp teeth), this process produces tea that has tiny granules perfect for tea bags. 

Green and White teas

All tea comes from the same tea plant (Camellia Sinensis)

Green tea

Green tea is not oxidised; instead it is either pan-dried or steamed, this gives it its delicate colour and fresh flavour. Leaves are either rolled in different shapes or tightly wound spirals.

White tea

Only the unopened buds and young leaves of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) are processed.


[i] A cultivar is a type of plant that has been bred for desired traits.