After Tea Leaves Are Picked - The Making of Artisan Oolong Tea

November 16, 2014 0 Comments

On the day of harvest, as the new growth of leaves that reach maturity within a two-month growing season are picked, they are carted from the farm to the factory. The first step of processing the leaves is solar withering. The leaves are spread by hand on tarps outdoors and undergo primary withering for about half an hour, depending on the weather.

The leaves are then gathered on their tarps and brought indoors for a longer, slower wilting process - allowing for partial oxidation of the leaves to occur. Before they are put on bamboo trays for several hours of slow wilting and oxidation, the leaves are "shuffled" to increase circulation and redistribute moisture for even oxidaton.

Depending on the teamaker and the conditions that the leaves are harvested and processed in, the steps can vary, but they are all intended for the same goal - partially oxidizing (perhaps the most idiosyncratic and subtly significant factor in the processing), rolling, and drying of the tea leaves. The indoor withering/oxidation phase is interspersed with shuffling and tumbling of the leaves to "wake them up" and in effect revitalize the circulation within the leaf to promote even distribution of moisture in order to maximize uniform oxidation throughout the leaf.

When the oxidation process is determined to be ripe, the leaves are then exposed to high heat in tumble dryer/heaters that kill the naturally occurring live enzyme in the leaf that is responsible for the primary oxidation of the leaf.

After the leaves have passed the "sha qing" or "kill green" step, depending on the extent of drying in the "sha qing" stage of processing, the leaves are either loosely rolled and sent through a hot air conveyer belt machine for further drying, or they are gathered on tarps to reabsorb the atmospheric moisture in preparation of the rolling and drying phase the next day.

The next morning, typically within 5 hours of completing the "kill green" and drying stage, the leaves begin their labor intensive process of being rolled and dried, intermittently, for several hours. This brings us to more than 24 hours of processing since the leaves were picked. At this point, the leaves are essentially cured and ready to be sold to merchants who will proceed to roast the tea to their preference, or at least have the leaves "roasted dry" to remove any remaining moisture content that could affect the freshness and shelf life of the tea leaves.

 

 

 






Also in News

Hong Oolong Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Hong Oolong Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club

October 13, 2021 0 Comments

We can see from the brewed leaves above that they resemble an Oolong Tea much more than a Black Tea. The bulk of the leaves still maintain their structural integrity, indicating that they have not been rigorously rolled, like a Black Tea would be. Only a portion of the leaf material was torn and squeezed to expose the sap, resulting in a more thorough oxidation. Most of the leaf material was treated with the skill and tact that an artisan Oolong Tea is made from. We feel that this is a more specialized batch of Hong Oolong in this respect.

View full article →

Hong Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Hong Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club

October 12, 2021 0 Comments

Batch 71 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Hong Oolong Tea made by our source of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong as well as our Small Leaf Black Tea. Both of these teas that we regularly procure from this family-run farm are closely related to this month's batch of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. This is the premier batch of Hong Oolong Tea made by this Dong Ding Oolong artisan however, and it exists only because of our encouragement (not nagging!) about trying out a new recipe!

View full article →

Top-4 Taiwan High Mountain Tea Regions
Top-4 Taiwan High Mountain Tea Regions

October 07, 2021 0 Comments

Taiwan is famous for High Mountain Oolong Teas, teas grown above 1000m elevation. The island actually has a number of High Mountain Tea regions, but only a few stand out as being world-renowned. Here we provide a brief overview of the top-4 Taiwan High Mountain Tea areas.

View full article →