How is Tea Made?
At Teatulia, we grow and process all of our teas at our organic tea garden in Bangladesh. But how do our fresh, organic tea leaves get from our garden into your tea cup?
TYPES OF TEA PROCESSING
There are two basic methods of tea production: Orthodox and non-orthodox. Each method produces a very different final tea product.
The orthodox method uses a process that preserves the integrity and flavor of the whole tea leaf throughout all stages of production.
Rolled & Shaped for Loose Leaf Tea:
Whole tea leaves are carefully rolled or shaped into various sizes and styles depending on the type of tea being produced. Orthodox processing is used to produce various styles of loose leaf tea, including white, green, oolong and black.
An artisan orthodox tea producer can greatly vary the outcome of a tea’s final appearance, aroma and flavor by how the tea leaf is shaped, oxidized and dried during the production process.
The orthodox method takes longer, but results in an attractive full leaf tea with complex flavour and aroma.
Also known as Crush-Tear-Curl, or CTC, non-orthodox processing yields small, intentionally shredded pieces of tea leaf that are shaped into granular pellets.
Made for Commercial Tea Bags:
CTC was originally designed for the production of a strong, full-bodied black tea that could be packaged in traditional tea bags and stand up to the added milk and sugar in a brewed cup.
CTC is mainly a machine-driven production method created to eliminate some of the labor-intensive steps of the orthodox artisan method in order to speed up time to market for black tea production.
The CTC process lacks the ability to produce a wide range of teas and tea flavours. Some green teas can be produced in this method, but white and oolong teas cannot.
CTC is mainly a black tea production process because as the leaves are shredded, oxidation starts quickly. CTC-processed leaves are highly oxidised and they start loosing their essential oils immediately.
Therefore, subtle nuances in aroma and flavour cannot be controlled, creating a final tea product with a one-dimensional profile.
Teatulia practices the orthodox method of tea production in order to preserve the whole tea leaf, control the outcome of the aroma and flavour of the final tea, and have the ability to produce a variety of tea styles from white to green to black.
At Teatulia we follow these key orthodox processing steps:
Plucking: Teatulia’s tea leaves are hand plucked by the local Bangladeshi men and women who cultivate our tea garden. While our tea bushes are very mature, they are kept pruned to waist-high height so that pluckers can easily access the leaves and buds from the youngest, newest growth near the top of the plant.
Weighing: During a typical 8-hour workday in the tea garden, a plucker will fill several baskets with fresh tea leaves. When a basket is full, pluckers take the tea leaves to be inspected and weighed to make sure only the highest quality, undamaged tea leaves are chosen to be processed. On average, 22 to 25 kilograms of processed tea is manufactured from every 100 kilograms of fresh tea leaves.
Transporting: Newly plucked tea leaves are transported directly from our tea garden to our on-site production facility, where the inspecting, sorting and processing of the leaves into white, green or black tea begins immediately.
Withering: Freshly plucked tea leaves are fragile and can easily break apart. So as a first step in processing, the leaves are laid out to dry for several hours so they will “wither” and loose some of their moisture content. Withering softens the tea leaves, making them flexible and supple so they won’t crumble during the rest of the processing steps.
Rolling: This is where our Teatulia tea leaves start developing their unique appearance and flavor profiles. As the soft leaves are rolled and shaped by machine, the cell walls of the leaf are broken, releasing the enzymes and essential oils that will alter the flavour of the leaf. Rolling exposes the chemical components of the tea leaves to oxygen and initiates the oxidation process.