How Tea Dust is Made: Breaking Down the Tea Manufacturing Process
Tea dust is made just like all other kinds of tea and tea leaves. The only difference is that tea dust is a by-product of more premium tea leaves. If you are curious about how tea dust is made and whether or not you can drink it, find out your answers below…
How Do You Make Tea Dust?
Once tea leaves have been plucked and weighed, they go through five processing stages – it is during the rolling/CTC stage that tea dust is formed. Later on, during the grading stage, the tea dust will be classified as such and sold in separate packaging.
To get a better understanding of this, here is a brief description of the tea manufacturing process:
Here, the tea leaves are arranged in a well-lit and ventilated space and allowed to dry. The tea leaves are left for about 18 to 24 hours until around two-thirds of the moisture has evaporated.
Once the leaves have been dried, they will either be sent to undergo rolling or Cut Tear Curl (CTC). Rolling is meant for loose leaf tea, while CTC is what produces tea dust.
With CTC, a machine breaks down dried tea leaves into very tiny pieces. This kind of tea is typically used for tea bags as the pieces are small enough to infuse the water with color and flavor even with a barrier.
The rolling process is also mechanized. Here, though, the leaf cells are ruptured so that they can expose enzymes to the air, allowing the aeration process to begin.
This process is also known as oxidation or fermentation. After rolling or CTC, the tea leaves are exposed to air for around 20 minutes to 5 hours. It is this stage that gives various teas their distinct color and flavor.
After the tea leaves have reached the appropriate amount of aeration, they are then dried to halt any further chemical reactions. In many instances, some of the unwanted tea products are heated out of the tea leaves at this stage as well.
It is at this point that the tea leaves are graded. Therefore, it is now that all the smallest particles of tea will be sorted together and labelled as such.
What is Tea Dust?
Still a bit confused as to what tea dust is or how it is marketed? Well, as mentioned, tea dust is a category of tea. This title shows suppliers and buyers what kind of brew they can expect with a specific kind of tea.
Since tea dust is so fine, it can infuse water at a much higher rate. This means that your brew will get darker and stronger far more quickly. There is also a tendency for this kind of tea to be slightly bitter.
Tea dust isn’t considered a premium or high-quality type of tea. These titles are reserved for whole leaf, loose teas. While tea dust can be sold as a lower grade of loose leaf tea, it is most commonly added to tea bags along with fannings.
Can You Drink Tea Dust?
Yes, of course you can drink tea dust. However, the resulting brew will be quite strong and a bit bitter as well. It is due to this that most people will add milk or sugar to this kind of tea. Due to the robust taste and color, tea dust creates a drink that holds up well to such additions.
This is what you need to know about tea dust is made. It is a rather complex and carefully controlled process. While tea dust may not be considered as high quality as other kinds, it certainly has its place in people’s cups.
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. However, her love for tea began long before she understood the health benefits of tea. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Dheena had the privilege of being surrounded by the world-famous Ceylon tea. This is what got her started on her exploration of the various types of tea. She has now extensively tasted and examined teas from all over the world.