Manufacture Of Traditional Green Leaf Tea

The freshly plucked two leaf and bud is weighed, picked over and gently packed into plastic creates to protect the leaf as it is transported to Dilmah’s Park Green Tea factory, located at an elevation of 6500 feet above sea level, on the southern slopes of the Pidurutalagala massif. Once there the handpicked leaves are sorted again to ensure that they consist of only the two leaf and bud combination. The leaf is thereafter seamed with a brief traverse through the pre-drier to arrest any further chemical action in the leaf which is then allowed to dry for about 16 hours in the trough. It is gently fanned by cold, dry, ambient air until it dries sufficiently for the firing process. The tea is then sifted and graded. Tea particles are separated according to shape and size by being passed through a series of progressively finer meshes. The main grades are Leaf and Broken grades with the former consisting of larger and longer particles, yielding a light liquor, whilst the smaller particles produce darker and stronger liquors. The tea is tasted to assess its strength, flavour and aroma.

TEA (Camellia sinensis)
Manufacturing Chart

Black Tea Drying Withering Sorting Cleaning Short fermentation Full fermentation Firing (drying) Sorting Sorting Withering Firing (drying) Pre-Drying (jasmine added) Rolling Post-Drying S haping and Styling Pan-frying, or Steaming Rolling Rolling Fresh Tea Leaves Oolong Tea White Tea Green Tea
B l a c k T e a D r y i n g W i t h e r i n g S o r t i n g C l e a ni n g S h o r t f e r m e n t a t i o n F u l l f e r m e n t a t i o n F i r i n g ( d r y i n g ) S o r t i n g S o r t i n g W i t h e r i n g F i r i n g ( d r y i n g ) P r e - D r y i n g ( j a s m i n e a d d e d ) Ro ll i n g P o s t - D r y i n g S h a pi n g a n d S t y l i n g P a n - f r y i n g , o r S t e a m i n g R o ll i n g R o ll i n g F r e s h T e a L e a v e s O o l o n g T e a W h it e T e a G r e e n T e a

Variations of the manufacturing process to obtain White, Green and Oolong teas

White teas are entirely handmade. They are rolled by hand and dried in filtered sunlight. In Sri Lanka, white tea is referred to as Silver or Golden Tips. Green tea is not fermented. Fresh leaf, on arrival at the factory, is immediately treated under high temperature by steaming or baking. This deactivates the enzymes that cause fermentation. The oxidation of polyphenols cannot take place and are preserved. This is why green tea has its unique flavour.

In the case of Chinese green tea, the fermentation process is stopped by either exposing the leaves to sunlight or applying warm air to the leaves and then pan-frying the leaves to stop all further processes.

Oolong tea is semi-fermented. In essence, it follows a similar manufacturing process as black tea although the oxidation is for a very short time. Oolong tea is usually much darker and stronger in taste than green tea, but Oolong is lighter in colour than most black teas and usually has a more delicate taste.

Handpicking

Handpicking

Handpicking

The leaf is plucked by highly skilled tea pickers, early in the morning, when the cell content of the leaf is at its mellowest, before the harsh upland sun sets in motion the chemical processes in the leaf. The plucking takes place at that time of the year when temperatures are at their lowest, and early morning frost not an uncommon sight in the plantation.

Steaming

Steaming

Steaming

The leaf is weighed and dispatched to the lofts from where it is sent through a barrel shaped steamer, in which steam at high pressure softens the leaf and coats it with its own cell fluids.

Pre-drying

Pre-drying

Pre-drying

The steamed leaf briefly traverses through the pre-drier arresting any further chemical action in the leaf cells and preparing the leaf for drying in the troughs.

Rolling

Rolling

Rolling

Rolling the withered leaves begins the process of oxidisation by rupturing the leaf cells, allowing the cell sap to mix. In this instance, a specially made “Moon Roller”, smaller than the conventional size was used.

Post Drying

Post Drying

Post Drying

The firing takes place in a specially adapted Tea Drier machine which, at low temperature, removes all surface moisture from the leaf, rendering it suitable for the sifting and grading processes that lie ahead.

Shaping and Styling

Shaping and Styling

Shaping and Styling

Final drying and shaping & styling is done by using the ball tea machine.

Sifting/grading

Sifting/grading

Sifting / Grading

The tea is conveyed direct from the dryer to be sifted and graded. Tea particles are separated according to shape and size by being passed through a series of progressively finer meshes. The main grades are Leaf and Broken grades with the former consisting of larger and longer particles, yielding a light infusion, whilst the smaller particles produce darker and stronger infusions.