Tea's production traditions are long and knowledgeable. Each farm has its own tea master who decides each step in the production based on their own wishes or traditions and each step is carefully planned based on the desired result.
The first thing that happens in the production of tea, after the bush has grown out, is picking. Two leaves and a bud. This is done traditionally, and to best preserve the leaves and the bud, by hand. In mass production, the picking is done by machine, which reduces the quality of the leaves.
After picking, the leaves are left to wither to remove the moisture. This is traditionally done in the sun, but also in separate rooms. The cell walls in the leaf become weaker during the display and this makes it easier for the moisture to escape from the leaf also in the following phases. If the leaf is not given time to wither, the moisture will give the tea a bitterness. During the display, a slight oxidation also occurs in the leaf.
(The oxidation process is also called "fermentation" by some, which is a misleading term as no fermentation takes place.) Speeding up the oxidation is done in different ways depending on the region and tradition. The surface of the leaves must be broken and this can be done in a drum, with a hammer or by being run over. What happens is that the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down. The enzymes in the leaf act as a catalyst for the oxidation and the leaf gradually turns from green to dark.
Depending on the type of tea, the oxidation is interrupted when the tea producer wants it. This process is called "kill-green". It is done by frying or steaming the leaves.
The leaves which after the Kill-green process are moist will now be rolled or shaped. Normally, the leaves will be rolled so that they twist around themselves and form strips. After rolling, the leaves can be shaped into other elaborate shapes. These shaping processes can cause juice to seep out of the leaves and add an extra flavor to the tea.
After shaping, the leaves must be dried. This is usually done in an oven at around 50 degrees, but also by air drying, sun drying or in a pan.
Usually the tea is now finished, but some types receive finishing touches such as flavoring and storage