Explaining the Tea Making Process: How 5 Different Types of Tea are Made

By Paul Bain

Your tea making process at home involves boiling water, reaching for your favourite tea leaves or tea bag, and grabbing a mug. But do you know how tea is processed during tea manufacturing? Find out how the process of green tea making differs from black tea processing and how exactly oolong tea, purple tea, and white teas are made!

So, How is Tea Processed?

You might be surprised to know that all tea (we’re talking tea here, not the herbal stuff like rooibos, yerba mate, or any other tisanes) starts with the same leaves- those from the Camellia sinensis plant. It’s the processing of tea leaves that determines what type of tea it will become. If you’ve ever wondered, ‘how is tea processed?’, read on to find out how your favourite type of tea is created.

Here are the 7 Tea Making Process Steps

how to make tea

There are seven main tea making process steps, but the extent to which each one is used is different depending on the type of tea manufacturing. 

1. Plucking the tea leaves

This is one step that every single type of tea must start with. After all, for tea manufacturing to happen, you need to remove the leaves from the plant first! Some teas require leaves to be plucked at a younger age, while others require a mature leaf.

2. Letting the tea leaves wither

    Like any other flower or plant, tea leaves will naturally begin to wither once they are plucked from the bush. The goal of this step is to let the moisture in the leaves evaporate. Depending on the type of tea, this is done by drying leaves under the sun or in a room with good ventilation.

    3. Rolling, tossing, or crushing the tea leaves

      Processing tea leaves requires breaking down some of the cell walls so that the air can react with them. This is done by shaking, tossing, crushing, and rolling the tea leaves to get them ready for oxidation.

      4. Oxidizing the tea leaves

        This is by far the most important part of the tea making process. The level of oxidation is what determines what kind of tea is created. Once the leaves have been bruised, they are left exposed to the air. The oxygen reacts with enzymes in the tea leaves and changes the chemical composition of the tea. The leaves gradually darken, just like any cut fruit does when left out.

        5. Fixing the leaves by heating


        The next step in processing tea leaves is to heat them once the desired level of oxidation is achieved. Heating stops the enzymes in the tea leaves from any more oxidation. In other words, once the enzymes have done their job, heat is used to immobilize them. 

        6. Drying the tea leaves

          Now it’s time to dry the leaves since they get damp during the heating step. After heating, the leaves are shaped into the desired form for the tea type. This could be anything from spirals, pellets, rolls, and more. Then, the shaped tea leaves are dried using sun, baking, or air. 

          7. Sorting the tea leaves

            The final step in the tea factory process is sorting the tea leaves before they are packed. This involves the painstaking process of sifting through all the dried tea to remove any impurities, stems, seeds, or burnt leaves. 

            Does Black Tea Processing Differ from Green Tea Processing and Other Teas?

            Black tea processing vs green tea

            You don’t have to be a tea connoisseur to know that there is an endless variety of flavours and colours when it comes to each type of tea. The strength, caffeine content, and colour of the tea all depends on the processing of the tea leaves. 

            How Processing Different Tea Leaves Gives Us a Wonderful Variety of Teas

            Wondering how the tea making process steps above apply to create your preferred type of tea? Oolong tea processing is different from black tea processing, which is different from yellow or dark tea processing! Here’s how the tea making process differs for five different types of tea:

            • Black tea processing differs from all other tea making processes in that it has the longest oxidation step. Leaves are left to react with oxygen, so they become dark (hence the name black)! 

            • Green tea processing is pretty much the opposite of black tea processing when it comes to oxidation. To preserve the green colour of the fresh tea leaves and the lighter taste, green leaves are heated early on during the rolling process. This allows green tea to keep its high level of antioxidants and why it’s famous for health benefits.

            • Oolong tea processing is the most complex because it involves repeating some steps of the tea making process several times to achieve the unique aroma and flavour. The rolling and oxidation steps are repeated over and over to get a tea that has characteristics roughly between a green tea and a black tea.

            • White tea doesn’t involve much processing at all. The leaves are plucked and allowed to wither and air dry- or in some cases gently tumble dried when needed. These are not deliberately bruised to aid oxidation like the other teas. 

            • Yellow tea and dark tea are both types of fermented teas. Yellow tea leaves are fermented before being dried, which gives them a yellowish colour. Dark teas such as Pu-erh undergo fermentation after the heating and shaping steps of the tea making process to produce an aged tea.

            How Justea Makes Tea - Justly Made Tea

            what is the process of making tea

            Now that you know all about the tea making process, there’s a new, unique type of tea that you may want to try. 

            The Tea Plantation Process for the Unique Purple Tea

            Purple tea processing is different from other types of tea because it starts with a unique cultivar, or variety, of the tea plant. This amazing plant has purple leaves, unlike other tea plants which have green leaves.

            JusTea’s tea plantation process for our award-winning purple tea involves working with small-scale farmers in Kenya to produce handpicked organic, fair trade purple tea. The purple tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize to ensure it remains packed with anthocyanins, antioxidants that offer incredible health benefits. Give purple tea a try today to experience these benefits and support our amazing Kenyan tea farmers at the same time!

            Leave a comment

            Please note, comments must be approved before they are published