I find it very interesting how black tea is made! Black tea is my favourite tea to drink-and I drink it all the time!! I especially like and enjoy Yunnan gold tea from China and Assam Teas from India-yes, these you have found out are my favourites! I like them strong and earthy and the way they pick me up! they make me feel better… after a long day, or when I need my afternoon pick me up… they are refreshing and soothing… Here is an article I wrote that I feel gives interesting information on the manufacturing of black tea…
How is Black Tea Manufactured?
The process of manufacturing black tea involves four processes which include: withering, oxidation or fermentation and drying or firing. The two processes used are: Orthodox and CTC, or cut, tear and curl. The countries of China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia all use the orthodox method.
The first step is to lay the leaves out in warm air and allow the leaves to wither with a 30-40% water content. They should be soft in order to be rolled, and be prepared for the next process or step. The yellow green leaves are than placed in a rolling machine that twists and rolls the leaves. The rolls in the machine are from two to four, sometimes more in this rotorvane machine, in order to increase the production of smaller broken leaf grades.This process breaks up the cells inside releasing chemicals and natural juices, which starts the oxidation process.
The leaf afer rolling, is broken and spread into thin layers in humid cool air and is left to oxidize for three to four hours, depending on the temperature and the conditions. The leaf will than form the unique flavor and aroma creating caffeine, theoflavin (A tea chemical) and the color, which turns darker. In order to stop the process of oxidation, the leaves are put into dryers and onto conveyor belts. Hot air from the belts will take the moisture out of the leaf by 2-3%.
The cut, tear and curl method is used in the tea producing countries in order to produce a tea that gives a strong liqour or tea brew-but can also be used to produce tea bags. The teas are produced the same way as orthodox teas, but instead of the leaves being rolled, they are put through a CTC machine, or a Lawrie Tea Processor, which is a rotating Hammer Mill Leaf disinigrator, which tears and breaks the leaves into very small particles.The oxidation and drying stagesa of the CTC Method are the same as in the Orthodox method.
Deidre R. Bissonette