Withering in black tea making process

March 26, 2014

–Black tea expert Hiroshi Okamoto of Creha Tea Shop wrote about a black tea workshop where he gave a talk.


The other day, I had a chance to talk about the withering process at a black tea workshop in the Minamata Ashikita area.
I’m just a teahouse owner and don’t really feel like it’s my place to talk to producers about the processing of tea. And I do get nervous every time, but since this is such a significant part of the tea making process, I feel it is important that they learn from experience.

Producers would all say that withering is the most critical step, but not many of them use resources such as space, effort, and money accordingly.

At this workshop, I asked producers who make similar varieties of teas and use a similar tea leaf processing method to do a tasting of the teas processed using different withering methods.

What I want to say is that normally we are not supposed to do what is called, “forced withering”, which is reducing the moisture content from the leaves using a tea scattering dryer before the withering progresses. But I can understand why one might feel the urge to reduce moisture content by forced withering because of weather, space issues in the factory, or the rhythm of life.
In the event that forced withering is used, we have to understand that the quality will be reduced, how the quality is reduced, and infrequently, but in some places overseas, they use the process of reducing moisture content forcefully for its efficiency, and that these are used as inexpensive black teas for the mass market. I prepared the tasting session hoping that they would understand these things by experiencing them.

They say that withering reduces about 40% of the total moisture weight. But this figure is just an estimate, and the true purpose is to go through the process so that leaf cells can be ready to become black teas. Moisture reduction is something that comes as a result of this process.

It’s not going to be a warming up exercise if you just elevate your heart rate without doing some stretching. Similarly, short distance sprinting and long distance running would need different methods of preparation. The withering method is also different depending on what kinds of black teas you want to make using which types of leaves.

Fortunately everyone who attended this workshop was full of passion. I’m confident that they will make surprisingly amazing black teas.

If they can make me say “Please, let me purchase your black teas,” then they could sell them at any price.
Even tastier Ashikita and Minamata black teas.

Please look forward to the day you see them.



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