Buy Raw Tea and Process Yourself
From July to October, we sell raw, freshly picked tea leaves, available upon request. Please sign up for our raw tea mailing list if you'd like to receive more information on getting fresh tea in the future.
Fresh picked tea leaves are withered in a shady place for between 2 and 16 hours depending on style of tea desired. The leaves will soften, loose some moisture, and become pliable for processing. The amounts and methods of bruising, cooking, fermenting, or oxidizing the tea determines the main difference between flavor types; read on for details on how to process different types of teas.
Japanese-style GREEN tea: Wither for 1-2 hours. Lightly steam in a bamboo steamer, cooking the tea lightly for between 30 seconds and several minutes. You may turn leaves. Remove from heat, place tea leaves in a square of muslin or flat cotton material. Gather into a ball using cotton square, roll repeatedly in a circular motion, twisting the ball tighter; roll for several minutes. Rolling helps express moisture from tea and shape leaves.
Chinese-style GREEN tea: Wok Fry in a large wok or cast iron on medium to high heat, mixing leaves constantly, being careful not to burn and bruise the leaves. To roll, repeat steps above under Japanese style. For both styles after rolling, proceed to curing stage.
OOLONG tea: After leaves wither, by lightly pinch leaves with fingertips, bruising lightly but not breaking leaves. Lay the bruised stems/leaves on trays in single layers. Allow them to rest, uncovered, in a warm place. The leaves will begin to ferment or oxidize. Let stand for several hours. Cook in a wok or cast iron on high heat, mixing leaves constantly, being careful not to burn the leaves. Remove from heat place tea leaves in a square of muslin, flour sack fabric towel, or a piece of a flat cotton sheet. Gather into a ball roll repeatedly in a circular motion, twisting the ball closed.
For rolling use one of following materials: muslin, flour sack cloth, or cotton flat sheet, cut into a large square. Place tea in center all roll into a tight ball. Proceed to curing stage.
BLACK tea: Extend the withering phase for up to 16 hours, keeping in a humid environment. Spend more time bruising and macerating tea leaves before laying them on trays in single layers. Repeat bruising and letting sit for several longer period until leaves are fully oxidized or fermented and dark in color. Sometimes tea is ground which produces a stronger fermentation reaction. Proceed to curing stage.
Curing: Place the stems/leaves on baking trays and dry them in an oven at 250 degrees F for about 15-25 minutes. This process removes the remaining water and stops the fermentation.
Storing: Place the dried stems/leaves in an airtight container and store in a dark location.