How to Process Chinese Green Tea
With a history of more than 3,000 years, green tea, known as the “national drink” in China, is the oldest type of tea in the world. Are you at all curious about how to make green tea on your own at home? Read on.
The processing of homemade green tea is mainly divided into three steps: frying (to remove water), hand-rolling, and drying.
Step 1: Frying
Frying is the first and key step in making green tea; it determines the shape and quality of the tea.
Put the picked tender leaves in the heated wok and then constantly fry until the tea fragrance comes out. After taking the tea out of the wok, it is best to blow it with a fan to make it cool quickly and dissipate moisture, reducing the temperature in the leaves and preventing them from turning yellow and moldy.
The high temperatures involved in frying can inhibit fermentation and maintain the green color of the leaves, removing moisture from the leaves, and making them soft and easy to process further.
It should be noted that the times and temperatures of frying fresh leaves should vary according to season and their different grades. You need to control these for the best outcomes.
Step 2: Hand-Rolling
After frying, the tea leaves should be rolled by hand, a process in which the tea takes shape. The main functions of hand-rolling green tea include the following two:
- The volume of leaves will be reduced, which is convenient when brewing; and
- It will lay the foundation for drying and clarify the tea’s characteristics.
There are basically two ways to roll green tea: hot-rolling and cool-rolling.
Older leaves should be rolled soon after they emerge from the work because they have higher cellulose content, which means it is not easy to roll and shape them after they cool down. But high-grade young leaves are easily rolled and formed, and cool-rolling can help to maintain their color and aroma.
Meanwhile, rolling can also be differentiated according to strength: light rolling makes tea leaves into a strip shape, like Huangshan Maofeng (黄山毛峰), while heavy rolling can shape green tea into a ball, like Biluochun (碧螺春).
Step 3: Drying
Drying can evaporate the moisture of green tea, create its shape, and give full play to the tea’s fragrance. Three forms of drying are employed: stoving, pan-frying, and sun-drying.
The drying process for green tea generally first involves stoving, so that the moisture is reduced to meet the requirements of pan-frying. Otherwise, after hand-rolling, the tea juice may easily form a mass sticking to the frying pan.
The main purposes of drying are as follows:
- The tea quality is continuously improved on the foundation of Step 1 (frying).
- The shape of the green tea can be improved after hand-rolling.
- Excessive moisture in the tea is discharged to prevent mildew and to preserve fragrance.
Finally, the dried tea leaves must be stored in good storage conditions; that is, the water content in the green tea should be 5-6%, and the leaves can be easily broken into pieces by hand.
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Step 4: Get Yourself a Cup of Green Tea!
Enjoy Your Tea
Green tea has many health effects for human beings, such as bringing refreshments, slowing down aging, and being good for the skin. Drinking green tea in the right way can make it taste better and healthier. What matters most is the water temperature.
Take West Lake Longjing (西湖龙井) tea for example:
Warm a 200 ml cup with 50 ml of boiling water and then pour it out. Put 3 g (depending on personal preference) of tea leaves in the cup and then pour in 1/5 of a cup of water at 85°C. Gently swirl the cup to steep the tea leaves for about 30 seconds. Then, pour more water into the cup and wait until the leaves have dilated owing to absorption of the water.
Now, it’s time to enjoy.
You should, however, be aware that green tea is also rich in caffeine, so don’t drink too much or make your tea too strong. Read how to drink tea to get more useful tips.