And you thought making a cup of tea was easy, right?
Hands up who thought that tea was a simple product to manufacture? Go on be honest, many of you thought that it was picked from the tea bush, packed and sold didn’t you? Well here at UKVending we looked into what exactly goes into making a nice cuppa.
Tea has long been associated with a nice sedate no pressure moment in the day when we all can relax and chill out. Not so for the pickers who have just twenty four hours from the moment the leaves are picked to the moment they are packed. Within that time the leaves will become black tea, green tea or a fusion of the both as well as being caffeinated or decaf. There is a lot going on in those precious twenty four hours.
Once the leaves reach the processing factory they are sorted this is because leaves of different sizes brew at different speeds. The leaves are graded into size and batched accordingly. Tea leaves are then classified by size, type and appearance. Across the world where tea is grown each country has their own classification processes for example in China the teas are named after the region they are grown in as well as the way they were grown, type of leaf or even the legend behind the tea. Once complete the freshly cut leaves are packed into foil lined paper sacks or the classic tea chests for their onward journey.
At this stage the leaves are subjected to one of two processes to determine what type of tea they will eventually become. These are known as the Orthodox or CTC method. The first one is the most commonly used around the world and sees the tea going through four separate stages of processing, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying before they are packed and sold.
The second method of making tea is the CTC or ‘Cut, Tear and Curl’ process. This method was only invented as recently as the Second World War and was developed to increase the weight of tea that could be packed into sacks or tea chests. Tea will start this process in much the same way as with the orthodox system with the tea leaves first being withered but then the differences begin with the leaves being put through a number of rollers that ‘cut, tear and curl’ the leaves. This process leaves tiny granules which are ideal for use in tea bags. The granules are then oxidized and dried in the same way as with the orthodox method.
If you’re a fan of green tea or for that matter white tea and Oolong tea then here is how they get their distinctive taste and flavour. Green tea is made by simply removing the oxidation process that leaves the fresh and delicate colour inside the leaves. Then they are rolled into shapes such as the bullet shapes found in Gunpowder green tea or spirals and long arch shapes.
Oolong tea is made using a part oxidation process as well as bruising the tea leaves slightly when they are shaken in baskets: the shaking and rolling leaves 70 percent of the leaves green with the remainder brown.
Finally with white tea only the unopened buds and young leaves of the tea plant are used with the rest of the process being the same as with green tea.