When it comes to harvesting, despite the fact that worldwide 99.9 per cent of tea is handled otherwise, only hand picking is worth speaking of.
The reason for this is that it is simply the only way to avoid damaging the fragile & delicate leaves. Aesthetic reasons do not play a role. Moreover, damage to the leaves bring about rapid oxidation. As a result, not only is the taste permanently affected, but the health-promoting effect is reduced or worse, a negative effect created due to the formation of free radicals. For this reason, tea leaves used for Matcha are mainly picked by hand. Beginning in May, this also enables only the youngest leaves to be selected.
Additionally, as well as to avoid oxidation, the tea leaves must be processed as quickly as possible. Even when the tea leaves are stored temporarily, oxidation and the formation of free radicals are promoted. They need to arrive no later than a few hours after picking at the processing point, where the steaming begins immediately. This procedure is important, as it stops fermentation, and thereby kills the bacteria it produces without damaging the contents of the tea.
Next comes a gentle drying step where the leaves lose a good 80 per cent of their weight. The result is known as “Aracha” or “Crude Tea”
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