When it comes to tea manufacturing, there are two core manufacturing techniques: orthodox manufacturing and CTC manufacturing (Crush, Tear & Curl). The difference mainly comes from the type of machinery that is used for the processing. The orthodox technique mostly uses traditional tea rollers to manufacture tea while CTC technique uses two cylindrical rollers to produce tea. This makes a significant difference both in the appearance and taste profiles of tea. However, the CTC technique is mostly used for commercial scale black tea production rather than in other tea types.
Generally, CTC steeps stronger and has more of a tendency to be bitter, while Orthodox teas are higher quality and contain more subtle and multi-layered flavors. Orthodox teas are usually harvested and processed by hand to get intact, whole leaves – small, young tea leaves plucked from the tips of the tea bush – but may also be harvested and processed by machine. CTC is machine processed and fully oxidized (black) tea. CTC tea tends to be less expensive and lesser quality than Orthodox tea. CTC teas tend to be blends of tea leaves harvested from more than one plantation during the
first “flush” (harvest). This makes their flavor fairly consistent from one batch to another. Assam tea is a common type of tea seen labeled “CTC”. It steeps up an deep ruby-colored liquid with a rich malty flavor tending toward the bitter side. It takes milk well and can usually use a bit of sugar or other sweetener, too, serving as a great tea to use in masala chai (spiced tea).
In tea processing, the distinguishing step that determines whether the green flush will turn in to white, green, oolong, or black tea, is oxidation. In black tea production, full oxidation can happen and in contrast, there are no or fewer reactions allowed in white tea production. The green tea and oolong tea come in between on this scale. When it comes to tea, it is equally important to know that the only beverage that is made out of tea plant, or the leaves of Camellia sinensis, can be given the name “TEA”. Though it is being commonly misused, in reference to other beverages from other plants or herbal teas.