What’s all the hype about E’s favorite drink, anyway? Do people really read tea leaves? Read on to find out more about how tea goes from leaf to cup.
Originating in China, tea spread across the globe as a healthy hot drink. http://www.teavana.com gives a great overview of the history of tea and some wonderful links to satisfy your curiosity.
The tea manufacturing process starts with withering, which turns the fresh leaf into the blackened tea we steep. 100 kgs of fresh leaves gets turned into about 25 kgs of the black tea. Withering is done to soften the leaves and reduce the moisture content and can take from 18 hours to a full day.
The next step, rolling, is done to turn the green leaves brown, release the aroma and taste, and prep for fermentation. But before fermenting, there is roll breaking: cooling the leaves and accepting the finer particles to the next step. The larger leaves that don’t make it through go back to the rolling step.
Fermenting the leaves is basically just allowing for oxidation until the leaves reach the required color and aroma. After fermenting the leaves are dried to stop unwanted oxidation or other chemical reactions. Finally the dried leaves are sorted and packaged based on leaf size and shape before you turn it into your delicious hot drink!
http://www.schooloftea.org/ gives even more detail into the tea manufacturing process.
+Plus: Tea leaves are categorized into three Flushes: First Flush, Second Flush, and Autumnal. First Flush (picked during March and April) gives light aromatic tea leaves. Second Flush teas (picked during May and June) are more fruity. Autumnal Flush teas ( picked during November and December) give off deeper aromas.