The Colours of Tea
Green, black, white, smoked, semi-oxidised or flavoured tea: they all come from the same tree, the Camellia sinensis (literally "Camellia of China"), also known as the tea tree.
It is how the tea leaves are processed that determines the colour and type of tea produced and it is only the way they are processed and picked that can change their qualities.
Exposure to the sun for fifteen or so hours, to dry out and remove any moisture from the leaves. After picking, one tea leaf contains 75% moisture. This is reduced to 68% after the withering process.
To make the tea leaves less bulky, the withered leaves are rolled in a machine. During this process the tea produced is tasteless as it is not yet concentrated.
This stage concerns only black and Oolong teas. The leaves are spread out in a humid room, between 25 to 30°C, for 30 to 90 minutes. Air must not be allowed to circulate in this room. The length of oxidation will depend on the quality of the leaves, the season, the region and the intensity of the desired colour.
The leaves are dried in hot air. This stage is essential as it is this process that allows the tea to keep for long periods. The tea should not be too dry, otherwise it will lose its body, the leaves are then dried in hot air.