This is the process by which tea leaf is induced to loose moisture substantially. Normally this is carried out by spreading leaves thinly on troughs through which warm air is circulated by fans. The average length of withering depends on the quality of the leaf peculiar to the region.
crushing tearing curling

When a satisfactory withering has been obtained the leaf is ready for rolling, which twists the leaf, breaks it up and expresses the juices. The CTC process of rolling is a comparatively rigorous one for the leaf, which is forced through a machine having two steel cylinders. The cylinders move in inverse direction at a speed of 700 RPM and 70 RPM with marginal clearance between them. The leaf as it passes consecutively through a bank of three to four such machines gets much reduced in size and its cell get ruptured for accelerated as well as intensive fermentation. The whole process leaves the leaf granulated. It gives much better thicker liquor and yields more cups of tea per kg of leaf.


Normally the tea ferments or oxidizes from 60 to 100 minutes depending upon the leaf quality and on climatic condition. Under South Indian condition ambient humidity is low and the presence of dry air can retard fermentation, hence cool humid condition are essential to enable larger retention time to produce blacker, grainy and heavier teas.


The next process is known as Drying. The objectives of drying is to
i) arrest fermentation and
ii) remove moisture and produce teas with good qualities. The mass of leaf is exposed to hot air when it passes through a chamber with perforated moving trays. The temperature of the air blowing through the chamber is maintained at temperatures between 100 to 130 degrees centigrade as its base range. It takes 15 minutes to half an hour to dry the leaf, when the enzymes are fully activated. After completion of the drying process the tea becomes fully black in color.

Sorting and grading

Sorting is the operation in which tea particles of the bulk are separated into various grades of different
sizes and forms confirming to trade requirements. The process of sorting has two objectives
i) to enhance the value and
ii) to impart quality.

storage and packaging

Tea is a markedly hydroscopic material and while cooling and sorting it absorbs moisture. Before packing tea the accumulated series of daily batches of each grades are bulked and mixed to obtain the highest possible degree of unity. Before packing tea is passed under powerful magnets to prevents possible pieces of iron mixing with the tea. Packing is the process of preserving the product using the cheapest but most appropriate material taking into account the product properties and the specific needs of the end user.