Dehydrating tea leaves is one of the most important step in processing loose leaf tea, the process is called withering. This is done by laying out tea leaves on a wire mesh. The moisture is gently absorbed by air passing through the mesh, this takes between 18-20 hours.
The reason for withering the tea is so that it is ready to be curled. A roller drum is used to curled the tea leaves by pressing and rotating each leaf. The purpose of this process is to distort cells of tea leaves at molecular level to release catechin compounds and enzymes that later will give tea its unique character. The tea leaves are then cooled and ventilated.
The next part is considered to be one of the most essential steps in tea making, called fermentation. Tea is spread on grids at controlled temperature and oxygen, this process shape flavour and aroma of tea.
After all this hard work, tea is then dried so that it can preserve its quality for long-term storage. A hot air chamber is usually used for the drying and then is cooled to complete the tea leaves that go into your cup.