Tea Processing Chart

by Tony Gebely 45

tea processing chart featured

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, wulong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh Camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea’s type.

There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very general processes that all tea styles within a particular type would fit into.

This chart outlines the minimum steps that fresh tea leaves must go through to be considered a tea of a specific category.

I believe that it is important to begin with an overly simplified and correct processing chart and add details later on. This is the most efficient and beneficial way to teach tea.

Feel free to challenge any part of this and to share it, just please link to this webpage. If you find this interesting, be sure to check out my posts on some of these individual processing steps: withering, oxidation, and kill green and drying. If you’d like to know more about the reasoning behind some of the processing steps and their order, please read Nuances of Tea Classification.


Download Tea Processing chart [PDF] [PNG] [Latest Revision: 8/24/2016]

Creative Commons License

Tea Processing Chart by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at worldoftea.org.


Tony Gebely

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

Comments (45)

  1. Hi Tony,

    Please quickly explain what does the “fixing” step do? The term is unfamiliar to me so it’s hard to imagine.

    1. Hi Miley, this step is also known as “kill-green” — see this post for more information. Cheers!

  2. I learned alot from your piece of work.i wish to learn more.from kenya,east africa tea growing zone(kericho countyp)

  3. 1) I thought green tea doesn’t go through withering, but straight to fixation. My charts show slight variations (https://www.wenstaiwantea.com/blogs/news/taiwan-green-oolong-black-tea-making-processes)
    2) Any reason for updating the name from Oolong to Wulong?

    1. Hi Cecilia!
      1. All green teas are withered to some extent before being fixed. It allows the leaves to become flaccid before further processing.
      2. In my book I use proper Pinyin throughout, so I wanted to be consistent. Really just personal preference.

  4. Sir,
    I’m working as a tea production in-charge in a tea factory. Can u pls tell me how can i get the best result for making best possible black tea.

  5. I have a question about firing tea (or ‘fixing’ as you call it in your chart). Usually, tea is fired either by roasting (most common in China) and steaming (common in Japan). Why is it never done by boiling?

    1. it would seem to me that once you place the tea leaves into boiling water, the infusion begins and you are then steeping the tea whether its processed or raw.
      in both roasting and steaming, the idea is to use heat as a way to stop the enzymatic change

      this is a very informative website..thank you for your hard work! looking to ordering your book

      1. georg, thanks so much, manuscript is done, editing is taking place. final stretch now!

  6. Hi, while searching for tea I landed on your page and I must say you have a very nice website. I loved the tea processing chart and thank you for sharing it. I also love tea, I prefer Puer tea. It really had great effect on my health. I like Puer tea from MistyPeakTeas.com

  7. I have previously read your articles and learned a lot I appreciate your work and knowledge you have shared to help me and others learn as much as we can about tea and it’s cpmplexities. thanks again!

  8. What does “Kill green” and Heaping: on your tea processing chart.

    1. Killing the green is stopping oxidization, usually done by firing in a wok. Heaping is for yellow tea, you leave the tea after fixing in wok in a warm heap and cover it with cloth.

  9. Great article!
    I think you made a typo? I don’t know of a bai hai yin zhen, maybe you meant bai hao yin zhen? Maybe it’s Cantonese?

    1. Thanks for letting me know about the typo! I can’t believe I missed that!

  10. where can i get a tea plant?

  11. your article is very helpful to me i am a tea nut and am learning all i can about tea. tea is quite a complex product, processess etc… i want to sell tea to make a living, educate about tea and promote teas health benefits. i need to know all i can about tea and one day soon hope to travel to tea plantations to learn more.

  12. Thanks for this chart, Tony.
    I think that it really shed a lot of light on the tea making processes.
    I can hardly wait to read your entire book that you are writing!

    Best regards,

    1. Thanks Stephen! Hoping to have all content done by mid-summer. Hope you are well!

  13. Excellent, thanks Tony! I hope your book writing and research is going well.

  14. This is very informative, and I really like your chart. The interesting part of your chart to me is that I could not find a term “rolling” there, while I often encounter them online. When I read online, I am very confusing about the sequence of tea’s manufacture steps, especially the order of “rolling” and “oxidization”. Can you help me clarify it? Thank you, Tony.

    1. Hi Mei,
      Definitely. “Rolling” and “Shaping” are often used interchangeably. Hope this helps!

  15. For those who love experimenting herbs and teas, the chart is very helpful and accurate. The chart clearly showed the general steps involved in producing different kinds of tea. Thank you for this!

  16. I find the chart hard to read. I think it could be improved by having all boxes of the same type on the same horizontal level. That way for White Tea for instance it would have a really long line between Wither and Drying but would easily tell you at a glance which steps are skipped.

    1. Thanks for the comment Michelle, I thought about doing it that way… it works well for when processing steps are “skipped” but when ones are added, for example “post-fermentation” and “bruising / oxidation” in the Post-Fermented and Oolong columns, this methodology breaks down.

      1. Not if you make post-fermentation and bruising/oxidation their own horizontal steps (which only that particular type fulfills). This would in effect translate “added” steps to “skipped” steps. Also, you could argue that bruising/oxidation is actually two steps and that bruising also happens with black tea to start the oxidation process (a stronger type of bruising than for oolong but of the same purpose and nature, nevertheless).

        Also, shouldn’t oxidation take place before shaping for black tea?

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