Where does black tea come from?
Black teas give a copper-colored infusion.
The main origins are : China, a large producer of tea such as Yunnan located in the south west of the country, India such as the Assam region (a region of plains located in the North East of India where the teas offer a strong, rich invigorating liquor full of flavours) or Darjeeling (a region located in the North East of India, on the slopes of the Himalayas, it offers teas with exquisite bouquets), the island of Ceylon such as the Dimbula district (the most important by its production and its number of gardens, these teas have a fine flavour and a golden color) or Kenya.
For black teas, there are several methods or processes of preparation:
The orthodox method:
It involves 5 or 6 operations.
This operation consists of drying the tea leaves until they lose 40 to 50% of their water content.
The tea is placed on long ventilated racks, its leaves are softened manually, this operation lasts from 16 to 24h. It can be reduced to 6 hours with modern and automatic equipment (long tunnels in which the leaves are kneaded and dehydrated in an accelerated way).
2. Rolling :
35' during which the leaves are rolled on themselves, without being broken, in adapted machines. The cells are broken, releasing the essential oils that will make the next phase of fermentation possible; in addition, this light pressure releases the juices that give the tea its characteristic flavor.
3. Fermentation :
Duration 2 to 3 hours at 27° in a humidified atmosphere where the ambient air does not circulate, the tea oxidizes and takes on its brown color by absorption of oxygen.
4. Dessication (or roasting):
Fermentation lasts 20' and is stopped by roasting at 90/95% in hot air chambers. Once black, the leaves are preserved only 5% of water at most.
5.sifting, sieving :
During the drying process, the leaves can crumble and the broken leaves form the "dust" of the tea. The sifting consists in separating the "dust" from the tea. This operation is reserved for high quality teas like those selected by Compagnie Coloniale. A first sifting operation can take place between rolling and fermentation. Immediately after sifting, the tea is packed (in boxes, bags or cartons) and ready to be marketed.
Leg Cutt process
This process avoids wilting but requires the leaves to be trimmed before rolling and to be dried very quickly after fermentation.