Today, we visited the factory with Sanjay, in order to understand how the tea is processed. Processing the tea follows different steps.
1) Withering: the tea is brought from the fields at night and put on long trails to take off about 70% of the moisture of the tea, thanks to cold or hot air. Withering time (from 6 to 8 hours) depends on the flush. It’s short for the 1st flush, and it increases for the other flushes.
2) Steaming: for green tea only. After withering, green tea is put to a steaming machine and heated from 160° to 180°.
3) Rolling: The tea is rolled, in order to release its flavor. The rolling time also depends on the flush. It is only 15 minutes for the 1st flush and it increases afterward. One of the worker is able to tell when rolling must stop, thanks to the smell of the tea.
4) Fermenting: for black tea only. The black tea is left to dry for about 40 minutes. This is the main step that differentiates black from green tea.
5) Drying: it lasts from 22 to 25 minutes. There is one machine for black tea and another for both green and white tea.
Only the Silver Tips tea (the highest quality tea) does not follow this process, since everything is hand-made.
After these five steps, the tea is sorted by the sorting machine, which removes the waste and gives different calibers of tea. These different calibers give different qualities of tea. Upon demand from the client, some teas are not sorted, but some workers need to take out the waste that remains in the tea leaves. This takes an incredibly high amount of time.