In most of the tea regions, tea trees can be harvested all year round. Different harvest seasons may lead to varying flavor profiles of final tea. Normally, only the young terminal bud with 2-3 tender tea leaves are being plucked from the tea trees. Since the young tea leaves carries higher level of amino acid-“Theanine”, ensuring the aftertaste of the final brewed tea is sweet and less astringent.
There are two stages of withering process: outdoor and indoor withering. First, spread out freshly harvested tea leaves outdoor on the canvas evenly. With experienced tea masters constantly flipping the tea leaves to ensure every leaf is fully exposed to the air and sunlight before moving indoor for the second phase of withering. Throughout the withering process, the fresh tea leaves will get dehydrated and gradually turn into dark green color.
Depending on the condition of each tea batch, tossing the tea leaves in the bamboo basket for 10-20 minutes to remove water from the leaves completely while bruising the edges of every tea leaf. The tossing time and speed shall be strictly monitored since the action could help to promote the fermentation process efficiently.
Fermentation is known as the oxidation process in tea processing. There are 4 main degrees of fermentation, including Non-fermented, semi-fermented, fully-fermented, and post-fermented. The tea leaves are usually being placed in a room with constant temperature and humidity rate for high performance of fermentation. The level of fermentation may lead to variance in tea body color, briskness, and strength.
Fixation process also called the de-enzyming stage. By steaming the tea leaves with high temperature of 300°C (572℉) for 8-10 minutes to stop the tea fermentation process through destroying the enzyme activity. The fixation process can efficiently remove the tea astringency and maintain the tea flavor & aroma at a desired level.
After the fixation process, the tea leaves are soft with high tenacity. Repeatedly roll the damp tea leaves to enable the sap & juice to ooze out and adhere to the surface of the leaves. Through multiple times of drying process to achieve approximately 3% moisture content and variety of shapes including spirals, balls, and cones, etc.
Remove out the impurities and inadequate tea leaves through sophisticated tea color sorting equipment to achieve standardization. The color sorting technique is the refining stage of tea processing which classifies the color, size, and quality of every piece of the tea leaf before filling into the final packaging.