Tea Processing Chart

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, wulong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh Camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea’s type.

There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very general processes that all tea styles within a particular type would fit into.

This chart outlines the minimum steps that fresh tea leaves must go through to be considered a tea of a specific category.

I believe that it is important to begin with an overly simplified and correct processing chart and add details later on. This is the most efficient and beneficial way to teach tea.

Feel free to challenge any part of this and to share it, just please link to this webpage. If you find this interesting, be sure to check out my posts on some of these individual processing steps: withering, oxidation, and kill green and drying. If you’d like to know more about the reasoning behind some of the processing steps and their order, please read Nuances of Tea Classification.

tea-processing-chart-2016

Download Tea Processing chart [PDF] [PNG] [Latest Revision: 8/24/2016]

Creative Commons License

Tea Processing Chart by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at worldoftea.org.

 

2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

About the Author:

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

29 Comments

  1. Miley February 24, 2017 at 2:56 am - Reply

    Hi Tony,

    Please quickly explain what does the “fixing” step do? The term is unfamiliar to me so it’s hard to imagine.

    • Tony Gebely February 25, 2017 at 9:43 am - Reply

      Hi Miley, this step is also known as “kill-green” — see this post for more information. Cheers!

  2. Rono Ronald September 29, 2016 at 5:35 am - Reply

    I learned alot from your piece of work.i wish to learn more.from kenya,east africa tea growing zone(kericho countyp)

  3. Cecilia Fino-Chen August 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    1) I thought green tea doesn’t go through withering, but straight to fixation. My charts show slight variations (https://www.wenstaiwantea.com/blogs/news/taiwan-green-oolong-black-tea-making-processes)
    2) Any reason for updating the name from Oolong to Wulong?

    • Tony Gebely August 25, 2016 at 5:39 am - Reply

      Hi Cecilia!
      1. All green teas are withered to some extent before being fixed. It allows the leaves to become flaccid before further processing.
      2. In my book I use proper Pinyin throughout, so I wanted to be consistent. Really just personal preference.

  4. Amdadul H Chowdhury April 26, 2016 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Sir,
    I’m working as a tea production in-charge in a tea factory. Can u pls tell me how can i get the best result for making best possible black tea.

    • Nguyễn Tấn Đăng Khoa September 3, 2018 at 8:50 am - Reply

      sir, i have a study about green and black tea processing. you work at tea factory so can you please give me a details of process? i will be plesure if you can help —

  5. Espen March 9, 2016 at 2:29 am - Reply

    I have a question about firing tea (or ‘fixing’ as you call it in your chart). Usually, tea is fired either by roasting (most common in China) and steaming (common in Japan). Why is it never done by boiling?

    • georg May 17, 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

      it would seem to me that once you place the tea leaves into boiling water, the infusion begins and you are then steeping the tea whether its processed or raw.
      in both roasting and steaming, the idea is to use heat as a way to stop the enzymatic change

      this is a very informative website..thank you for your hard work! looking to ordering your book
      best,
      gk

      • Tony Gebely May 17, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

        georg, thanks so much, manuscript is done, editing is taking place. final stretch now!

  6. Allen Clark September 12, 2015 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Hi, while searching for tea I landed on your page and I must say you have a very nice website. I loved the tea processing chart and thank you for sharing it. I also love tea, I prefer Puer tea. It really had great effect on my health. I like Puer tea from MistyPeakTeas.com

  7. rosida burton August 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    I have previously read your articles and learned a lot I appreciate your work and knowledge you have shared to help me and others learn as much as we can about tea and it’s cpmplexities. thanks again!

  8. Sarah Charles August 23, 2015 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Thank you for making this!

  9. Nancy Prokosh April 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    What does “Kill green” and Heaping: on your tea processing chart.
    Thanks!
    Nancy

    • Nattles May 14, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

      Killing the green is stopping oxidization, usually done by firing in a wok. Heaping is for yellow tea, you leave the tea after fixing in wok in a warm heap and cover it with cloth.

  10. daniel December 8, 2014 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Great article!
    I think you made a typo? I don’t know of a bai hai yin zhen, maybe you meant bai hao yin zhen? Maybe it’s Cantonese?

    • Tony Gebely December 8, 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Thanks for letting me know about the typo! I can’t believe I missed that!

  11. rosida burton July 13, 2014 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    where can i get a tea plant?

  12. rosida burton July 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    your article is very helpful to me i am a tea nut and am learning all i can about tea. tea is quite a complex product, processess etc… i want to sell tea to make a living, educate about tea and promote teas health benefits. i need to know all i can about tea and one day soon hope to travel to tea plantations to learn more.

  13. Stephen Shelton February 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this chart, Tony.
    I think that it really shed a lot of light on the tea making processes.
    I can hardly wait to read your entire book that you are writing!

    Best regards,
    Stephen
    http://www.JAS-eTea.com

    • Tony Gebely February 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Stephen! Hoping to have all content done by mid-summer. Hope you are well!

  14. Zo Guthrie August 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Excellent, thanks Tony! I hope your book writing and research is going well.
    Zo

  15. Mei October 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    This is very informative, and I really like your chart. The interesting part of your chart to me is that I could not find a term “rolling” there, while I often encounter them online. When I read online, I am very confusing about the sequence of tea’s manufacture steps, especially the order of “rolling” and “oxidization”. Can you help me clarify it? Thank you, Tony.

    • Tony Gebely October 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Mei,
      Definitely. “Rolling” and “Shaping” are often used interchangeably. Hope this helps!

      • Mei October 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm - Reply

        Thanks, Tony!

  16. tea stores Saint Cloud May 25, 2012 at 3:40 am - Reply

    For those who love experimenting herbs and teas, the chart is very helpful and accurate. The chart clearly showed the general steps involved in producing different kinds of tea. Thank you for this!

  17. Michelle B. April 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I find the chart hard to read. I think it could be improved by having all boxes of the same type on the same horizontal level. That way for White Tea for instance it would have a really long line between Wither and Drying but would easily tell you at a glance which steps are skipped.

    • Tony Gebely April 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Michelle, I thought about doing it that way… it works well for when processing steps are “skipped” but when ones are added, for example “post-fermentation” and “bruising / oxidation” in the Post-Fermented and Oolong columns, this methodology breaks down.

      • Gand April 28, 2012 at 6:58 am - Reply

        Not if you make post-fermentation and bruising/oxidation their own horizontal steps (which only that particular type fulfills). This would in effect translate “added” steps to “skipped” steps. Also, you could argue that bruising/oxidation is actually two steps and that bruising also happens with black tea to start the oxidation process (a stronger type of bruising than for oolong but of the same purpose and nature, nevertheless).

        Also, shouldn’t oxidation take place before shaping for black tea?

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