Withering & rolling
After plucking, the tea is very quickly taken to the muster sheds to be weighed and monitored under close supervision before the teas are taken to the factory. The tea leaves are then taken to be spread in troughs, a process known as withering, which removes excess moisture from the leaf. Once withered, the leaves are rolled, twisted and parted which prompts the enzymes in the leaves to react with the oxygen in the air, especially in the production of black tea.
After the rolling is finished they are spread out onto a table where they begin to ferment upon being exposed to the heat from the natural air temperature, so fermentation times fluctuate according to temperature and humidity. The regulation of temperature, humidity and duration requires a great deal of skill and constant attention, failure to do so destroys the flavour.
As oxidisation occurs the colour of the leaf changes from a green to a bright coppery colour. Now the fermented leaf is put in a firing champer to prevent further chemical reactions from taking place.