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The leaves of the tea tree are treated as soon as they are harvested, often in factories installed at the place of production. It is during the processing phases, that tea acquires its characteristics and personality. The process of making tea is summarised into five main phases, depending on the level of fermentation. Certain teas differ dramatically, for example, green teas do not undergo any fermentation and Oolong teas are very slightly fermented.
This operation, which usually lasts between 18-20 hours, softens the leaves and consists of removing 40-50% of their water. The leaves are spread onto racks and passed over by a current of air of around 20-22°C.
The tea leaves pass through machines that roll them lengthwise, breaking their cells to release their essential oils. These then intervene in the fermentation and give the tea its characteristic flavour.
This step consists of sorting the sheets according to their size. This is when the grade of tea is defined, depending on whether it's whole leaf or broken from this process.
After the preparation phases, the sheets then undergoe an enzymatic oxidation phase in a humid environment at 90-95%. Fermentation is a natural process that causes an increase in temperature inside each sheet up to 29°C. Too fermented, the tea will lose its character and its leaf will have a burnt appearance; not fermented enough and its taste is bitter and its leaf is greenish-brown in colour.
The tea leaves are subjected to a dry atmosphere and a high temperature of around 90°C until they retain only 2-3% moisture. This is a delicate phase that stops fermentation at the exact desired time.
This last operation consists of sorting the tea leaves definitively on vibrating screens according to their grade (whole, broken, crushed ...). Then their size. The tea will then be packed into paper bags or wooden crates, lined with a layer of aluminum.
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