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