In this article, we review how a Tie Guan Yin Oolong is harvested with a step by step process:
Plucking Tea Leaves (Cai Qing)
Unlike green tea, which requires the plucking of tender sprouts, Tie Guan Yin relies on tea leaves of standard size, similar to those found on regular tea trees.
Sun Withering (Shai Qing)
The timing of sun withering is of utmost importance. Typically, it occurs after 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the sunlight becomes gentler. This process spans 15 to 30 minutes.
Cooling (Liang Qing)
Cooling follows sun withering, taking place in a cool, well-ventilated indoor setting. The tea leaves are rotated every half to one hour.
Tossing (Yao Qing)
Tossing is the linchpin of Tie Guan Yin production. The friction the tea leaves endure during this step triggers semi-fermentation. Post-tossing, the leaves regain their cyan hue. After another round of cooling, the tossing process is repeated three to five times.
Stir Fried (Chao Qing)
Traditional stir-frying is a manual process, ensuring temperature control as needed. The pan temperature is maintained between 250 to 280 degrees Celsius.
Rolling (Bao Rou)
This unique Oolong tea-making step employs a tea cloth to wrap the leaves. Pressure is applied through rubbing, giving the leaves their distinctive striped appearance, reminiscent of oolong tea.
Baking (Hong Pei)
Baking aims to reduce the water content in the tea leaves to below 6%. This step is alternated with rolling, with a sequence of baking, rolling, baking again, rolling again, and final baking. The tea leaves are then processed into “raw tea.”
Picking (Jian Bo)
After picking and meticulous selection, the “raw tea” is ready for packaging and sale. Tie Guan Yin’s quality is sensitive to air exposure, prompting the use of vacuum packaging. To preserve its integrity at home, store it in the refrigerator.
Overall, the process is very similar to Oolong harvesting but with some slightly different aspects.