The most important steps involved in green tea manufacturing are as follows:
Step 1: Plucking
It is done by picking the tender apical shoots along with the adjacent leaves with use of the thumb and forefinger to ensure the quality and taste of tea. In some bigger gardens mechanized plucking is performed, which results in more broken leaves and partial buds. The leaves are carried in open trailers to the factory for manufacturing.
Step 2: Cooling
In order to cool down the leaves which accumulate heat as a result of stacking, the tea leaves are spread evenly on a trough or on the floor. Small amount of water is sprinkled to cool and freshen up the leaves faster.
Step 3: Roasting or Pan Frying
As soon as the leaves cool down and regain freshness, they are fed into the roasting machine. Green leaves are then processed for around 20 minutes in batches in the roaster.
Step 4: Re-cooling
The hot roasted leaves are then spread evenly over the perforated troughs to cool. As blower supplied cool air passes across the perforated trays trough from below, the leaves release the heat and cools down considerably and becomes ready for the next operation.
Step 5: Drying
The drying process serves few vital purposes. First it stops both the enzymic reaction and the oxidation. Secondly drying gives birth to a stable product that can be stored for a certain period without any noticeable degradation in quality. Last but not the least, for green tea drying process is more important because green tea acquires some desirable characteristics like flavor and color during the drying process.
Step 6: Pre-sieving and final sieving
To sort out the inadequately dried leaves that retain part of its moisture content, the dryer mouth tea is passed through a sifter. As the fully dried-up leaves are finer in size than insufficiently dried coarse leaves, the fine particles pass through the perforation and the spill i.e. undried coarse leaves are sent for further drying.
After the drying is over, green tea is ready to to be processed for final sorting. The tea leaves pass through an array of sorting machines that segregates the produce as per their size. The whole unbroken leaves with highest amount of silvery buds and almost no stems mixed are of the topmost quality. The presence of more buds ensures better quality by adding sweetness and giving tea the most health benefits. Medium-grade tea consists of some broken leaves with stems mixed in, and less quantity of white buds. The smaller ones with all broken leaves and no buds are of low quality.