A beverage as basic as tea has multiple flavours that can be enjoyed by one and all. But what causes this diversity in taste, tinge and texture of tea? It is the difference in the production style that affects the final product. Depending on the characteristics of tea, there can be two techniques to blend tea- the traditional method used to produce long leaf tea or the conventional technique called the CTC method to produce CTC leaf tea.
Here is some more information that will help you to decide what is your cup of tea:
CTC leaf tea is obtained by a method that primarily includes crushing / cutting, tearing and curling the tea-leaves done by the use of heavy machinery. The leaves are churned in a series of cylindrical rollers that have hundreds of sharp teeth designed for this purpose.
The process of producing Long leaf tea, on the other hand, is the orthodox version which relies on manpower rather than machinery. Leaves are simply hand-plucked, rolled and crafted by the use of experts.
The basic features that differentiate the process from the other are listed below. Give them a read and become adept at knowing your preferences.
The vital difference comes from the style of production employed that make the tea leaves. The method of producing long leaf tea is more time-consuming in contrast to the method of producing CTC leaf tea. As a result, the former produces tea in strips of leaves whereas the latter is characterised with a powdery texture.
The two leaves vary greatly in the goals they serve. Long leaf method is more suited for those tea lovers who enjoy the authentic flavour of the tea and do not mind shedding a few extra bucks for the hand-plucked quality. This method causes the least amount of damage to the leaves given the caution and care given while picking the leaves. As a result, the original virtues of the leaves are preserved.
Method used to produce CTC leaf tea has a more advanced approach. This technique helps in satiating the increasing demand by providing quality beverage at a faster rate. This can be attributed to its mechanical process instead of relying on manual labour for the same unlike the method used to make long leaf tea. However, the dynamic tea experience is lost somewhere along the way. The leaves undergo severe processes which strip them of their original qualities. The complex tasting experience is therefore diluted due to the lack of attention and craftsmanship compared to the expert treatment leaves undergo in the long leaf tea technique.
Lastly, the most significant quality that might clarify your preferences when it comes to buying either of the two is the drastic difference in the flavours that are generated. Long leaf tea method selects the best, top-quality leaves and follow the basic steps such as
Withering- leaves are spread out on trays to reduce their moisture content
Rolling- the withered leaves are rolled and twisted by manual labour.
Oxidation- the tea is then exposed to the sun depending upon the output to be reached. This affects the flavour and aroma of the tea.
Drying- the tea undergoes a drying process to halt the oxidation process.
Due to the intricate and careful nature of this entire process, tea produced using this method possess a delicate flavour and is able to retain the authentic flavour, aroma, and hue. It has aesthetic appeal and is more subtle.
This is not the case with the CTC leaf tea given its dependency more on machinery rather than labour. This results in the leaves getting similar treatment due to the mechanical process and hence is responsible for generating consistent quality. It is famous for churning out dark, strong, distinctly astringent flavoured tea. This generic taste can be best enjoyed with milk or be used in the recipe of masala chai given its consistent quality.
Therefore, a person who enjoys the company of subtle flavours and doesn’t mind paying a bit more will appreciate the presence of long leaf tea. However, those that prefer a stronger and bitter nuance of tea will find an inclination towards CTC leaf tea.
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