Every day we consume tea with various and varied aromas. This tea which arrives in our homes already ready to be consumed undergoes many modifications. Among these there is an important step: leaf drying.
What is the drying of leaves for?
Drying provides stability to the tea leaves. Its role is to reduce the humidity in the tea leaves to 2-3%. This allows the oxidation process to slow down so that it stops completely, and therefore can be stored more easily and for longer.
Drying tea is not an easy task.
Tea manufacturers control the air temperature and the drying time.
All this in order to produce a perfect tea. But that's not all !
Slow drying will cause the tea to steam, and drying too quickly will cause unbalanced leaf drying. An average loss of more than 4% moisture per minute will bring bitterness and harshness. A loss of humidity of 2.8 to 3.6% per minute will give a very good quality tea.
Here are the most common drying methods:
The tea is placed on perforated trays and then passed through an oven in which hot air circulates through the tea leaves by convection.
The tea is moved through a continuous heat source (often using dryers).
The most authentic and respectful way to dry tea. The tea leaves are spread outside, usually on shallow bamboo baskets to dry in the sun (see photo below).
Less frequent drying methods:
Drying tea at charcoal: tea leaves placed in a shallow bamboo basket are slowly heated over hot coals.
Drying out heated floor: the tea leaves are dried on a thick heated floor.
Drying is a process that can affect the flavors that will emanate from the tea. In addition to drying, certain teas undergo 2 additional treatments, one of which is roasting. Generally these processes are reserved for premium teas.
Good tasting !