Plucking fresh leaves
The process of tea manufacture begins with the tea leaves because the quality of the leaf determines the quality of the tea. In Sri Lanka plucking is done by hand while in other countries which predominantly manufacture green tea it happens by hand or with the help of a machine.
The firing or drying deactivates the enzymes in the leaves that could possibly cause any fermentation. In case of Chinese green teas this is done either by exposing the leaves to the sunlight or by applying warm air to the leaves and them pan-firing them. Any natural enhancements to the tea take place at this stage. For example jasmine petals or flowers are added to the tea during drying.
Sifting and Grading
The tea proceeds straight from the dryer to be sifted and graded. Tea particles are separated by their shapes and sizes by sifting through a series of progressively finer meshes. The main grades are Leaf and Broken grades with the former being made of larger and longer particles which yield a lighter liquor and the latter, smaller particles which produce darker and stronger liquors.