Just like Black Tea, it all starts with a small ‘just-plucked’ green tea leaf, usually about 5 cm long.
The leaf pickers deliver their leaves to the local factory for immediate processing. The core difference v Black Tea - the oxidation process that darkens the leaf is completely missing. The green leaf remains… green.
Step 1 - ‘Withering’: the whole leaves are spread out in warm air for up to a day to reduce the water content by about 10 to 20%. The leaves literally wilt and starts to lose some of their vibrant colour.
Step 2 - ‘Steaming/Pan Frying’: The critical ingredient to produce Green Tea. After withering, the wilted tea is steamed or pan fried to destroy the enzymes that would otherwise be the catalyst for oxidation.
Step 3 - ‘Rolling / Shaping’: the soft leaves are shaped to requirement, either on a machine or by hand. This is where the world of green tea explodes in creating many unique teas, where a specific village may craft the tea to a characteristic and ownable shape. What emerges maybe the very large and thin leaves of Dragon Well Green Tea or the tight bullets of Gunpowder Tea.
Step 4 - ‘Drying’: the process varies from producer to producer and is sometimes integral to the shaping process. But in a nutshell, the Green Tea is heated in pans or ovens to remove remaining water content and ensure it is dry and stable for packaging.