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It is an indispensable tool for tea drinking.
Harvesting Fresh Tea Leaves
The first step in tea production is the plucking of fresh tea leaves. Generally, young and tender leaves are preferred. They are carefully hand-picked or harvested using machines to ensure the quality of the tea.
Gradual Moisture Loss through Withering
After picking, the tea leaves undergo withering. This process involves spreading the leaves out to dry, allowing them to lose moisture gradually. Withering makes the leaves more pliable for subsequent processing.
Breaking Down Leaf Cells and Initiating Oxidation
The withered leaves are then rolled. This step helps to break down the leaf cells, release enzymes, and initiate oxidation. Rolling can be done manually or using machinery, and it contributes to the development of the tea's flavor and aroma.
Determining Flavor Profile through Oxidation
Depending on the type of tea being produced, the leaves may be left to undergo oxidation or fermentation. This step is crucial in determining the final flavor profile of the tea. Green teas are not oxidized, while oolong and black teas undergo varying degrees of oxidation.
Preserving Flavor and Reducing Moisture Content
The final step is drying the tea leaves to halt oxidation and reduce moisture content. This process helps to preserve the tea's flavor and extend its shelf life. The drying can be achieved through various methods, such as pan-firing, sun-drying, or using specialized drying machines.