This Bing Cha factory video is from one of our sourcing trips in the early, start-up years as a tea company when we were auditing new suppliers. It is a visual landscape from a tea factory near Menghai in Southern Yunnan specializing in making round tea cakes (Bingcha). The visuals include the sun drying of the cakes and also on indoor wooden racks. In shaping the cakes, the leaves are first steamed and then put into cloth sacks and finally molded with stone weights.
Banzhang in Xishuangbanna is one of the highest elevation old growth tea forests. The tea tress are several hundred years old and home a village of 150 families. We took this video on our visit there. Follow the tea pluckers who comprise a native minority community of the region.
The name Biluochun literally means “Green Snail Spring”. It is called so because it is a green tea that is rolled into a tight spiral, resembling a snail and is harvested in early spring. Its original area of cultivation is the Dongting mountain region near Lake Tai in Jiangsu province, China. The fresh green tea leaves are roasted in a small wok, with precise rotating hand movements to bring the leaf into a curled shape.
Oolongs undergo a variety of rolling techniques. In the case of twisted leaf style, a simple rolling machine is used wherein, the base is heated. With light pressure, the leaf undergoes a rolling technique that brings the leaf into a loose twisted style.
The tunnel roaster is an integral part of the oolong production process. The roaster rotates while the tea leaves are heated and roasted at the desired temperatures. The leaves are routinely taken out by tilting the roaster, then cooled, rolled before roasting them again.
The Oolong ball rolling technique requires packing the tea leaves into a cloth sack (ball) by hand and then utilize a machine to tighten the pressure. The steps are repeated several times, before the leaf assumes a rolled leaf shape. Traditional rolling techniques used to be done solely by hand and these days a small machine is used by most oolong crafters.
Crafting oolong teas is an artform with tremendous skill involved. Native to Anxi, Fujian province in China and parts of Taiwan. The crafting is a multi-step process. It requires rolling the leaves in cloth sacks and sorting them in successive steps.