The classification of Chinese Tea is determined by the variation of tea processing. In fact, any fresh picked loose tea leaves can produce whatever type of tea by undergoing the relative tea processing. However, specific tea species may be more appropriate for producing certain types of tea. The tea production process generally includes five basic steps after picking the Chinese tea leaves:
1. Chinese Tea Wilting: after picking, the first step of tea making is to remove a part of the liquid content from the tea leaves, this tea processing step is called wilting.
2. Chinese Tea Fermentation: when the wilted tea leaves are are exposed to air, the start to oxide, this tea processing step is called fermentation. The color of the tea leaves will start to change from green to red. The leaves turn darker gradually depending on the degree of fermentation.
3. Chinese Tea Deactivation of Enzymes: After the fresh Chinese tea leaves have been fermented to the desired level (depending on type of tea), the leaves will be panned or steamed over high heat until ripe to stop the process of fermentation
4. Chinese Tea Rolling: In the process of rolling, the loose tea leaves will be rolled to form the desired shape (also depending on type of tea). This rolling tea making process also allow the aroma of the tea leaves to easier dissolve in hot water
5. Chinese Tea Drying: After the rolling process, the tea leaves needs to be dried. The purpose is to evaporate the moisture that is left in the loose tea leaves and to consolidate the shape of the tea. The result is that the tea will be more convenient for storing and its aroma is intensified.
After tea processing, the tea is called raw tea. Some teas might need additional processing before it’s ready for consumption.