There are many ways that tea is harvested. Today I will give you a very simple idea of how tea is harvested, as the harvesting is different for every tea.
Tea is harvested when the plant begins a growth spurt. Picking must begin at just the right time to ensure that the leaves are large enough to be harvested, but not too old. For the best tea, the top two leaves and bud are picked. Occasionally, only the buds are picked for some very special teas.
There are two main objectives in processing tea. The first is to preserve the tea and the second is to bring flavor to the surface of the tea leaves. Thus, after picking the leaves, which is done by hand, as typical farm machinery is too rough for tea leaves, the green leaves are spread to dry between 12 to 18 hours. This drying process is done to allow the leaves to become soft and pliable, making them easier to roll without tearing. The rolling of the leaves is done in that it breaks down the membrane of the leaves releasing the natural juices to collect to the surface. After rolling, the leaves are then brought into a large, cool rooms to ferment. This fermentation process produces essential oils for the natural juices, which give each black tea its characteristic aroma and flavor. Once the aroma and flavor of the tea have fully developed, the leaves are fired in large ovens, allowing the essential oils to dry on the surface.
Finally, the last step is sorting the leaves by size. Approximately, 80% of the leaves are broken or crushed during the production process, so that the finished tea consists of full teas leaves, broken leaves, and smaller particles, and tea fannings and dust. As the steeping time for tea increases with the size of the tea leaf, tea must be sorted into lots of equal leaf size. The large leaf, 20% of tea, is the best grade, the small broken leaves are the next grade, and the fanning and tea dust is used in tea bags.
There, so know you know how much time and effort it takes to make tea for your enjoyment. I hoped you found this as interesting as I have, and I will see you soon!