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What is the Green Tea Steaming Process?

Every kind of tea leaf goes through a steaming process, and in the case of green tea leaves, it happens right after picking. Green tea leaves, when picked, are sent right away to a crude tea factory, where the process goes through high heat. The steaming process is crucial, as it is responsible for stopping oxidation in tea leaves. However, if the process is skipped, then the enzymes present in tea leaves change the original components by oxidizing polyphenols, resulting in the oxidation of catechin. 

Catechins are the main and vital nutrients in green tea leaves and are responsible for many health benefits. They also give the tea an astringent taste. It works as an antioxidant agent and frees your body from any harmful radicals. Therefore, it is essential to drink green tea, which has gone through each processing step. The steaming process gives your tea a proper taste and keeps the catechins in their original form so you can get their health benefits.

The steaming process was made important and frequently used to eliminate the smell of leaves, enhance aroma, inactivate enzymes, and make the tea leaves softer, making them easier to break down in later processing.

green tea leaves steamed

In Japan, the steaming process was introduced long ago, but in recent years, it has gained popularity due to an increase in massive-scale exports. Kobo Daishi, a Japanese monk, learned this method during his visit to China in 804 A.D., and on his return, he taught the technique to other tea vendors. Now every green tea sold in Japan and exported goes through the steaming process.

Nowadays, streaming is done through a tea steaming machine in a properly made factory. The device is made up of a string shaft and a net drum, and both of these parts are covered with steaming drums. When leaves go through this machine, oxidizing enzymes present in fresh leaves are killed due to steam heat. Steamed leaves get a new, fresh green color and contain 75% water. Then it immediately goes through other steps, such as rolling and drying.

The steaming process's length varies in green teas, as the time determines the flavor, aroma, and color of a tea. Each green tea has a specific timed steaming process that varies depending on the growing condition of the tea, the region of cultivation, the elevation, etc. The timing determines most of the results of brewing tea and should be taken seriously for each type of green tea. In the following table, you will see how steaming time changes the fragrance, taste, and color of a tea.

Green Tea steaming time and characteristics

Method

Light Steaming

Normal Steaming

Deep Steaming

Special Streaming

Extra Deep Steaming

Steaming Time

20-30 sec

Short time

30-40 sec

Short time

40-60 sec

Short time

90-120 sec

Long time

140-160 sec

Two-step steaming

Taste

Clear

(astringency)

Slightly rich

(astringency) 

Rich

(astringency) 

Deep rich

(smoothness)

Strong

Low astringency

Fragnance

Strong

Fresh

Fresh

Weak

Light

Leaf Shape

Long, narrow and uniform

Long, narrow and uniform

Long, narrow and uniform

Broken and fine

Coarse

Tea Color

Clear light-green

Clear light-green

Clear light-green

Darkish green

Deep green

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