I think this may depend on the type of tea. Breakage can occur at many stages but it is easier to break the leaves after drying because of the brittleness. You can't shape the leaves when they are dry. It has to be done with moisture still in them and they are less likely to break.Evan Draper wrote:Neither am I a tea producer, but I have read that breakage often occurs during the rolling process. So if I am not too far off, that would be after oxidation and firing (kill-green), yes, but before drying/roasting.wyardley wrote: I'm not so sure about the bits crushed during processing being oxidized differently - I'm not a tea producer, but I'd think that most breakage would happen after the tea has been partially oxidized and dried -- in other words, the bits around the edge would be more oxidized, and the bits from the center of the leaf would be less oxidized.
Then there is the difference between long and twisted vs rolled oolongs. Long and twisted like Wuyi will have a higher breakage % generally than rolled oolongs. Many people comment on how a tea is more bitter when many broken leaves are found in their package. Is this true or imagined? I find it somewhat true. Most vendors selling higher end teas sell whole leaf tea with little breakage. Broken leaves bug me, personally. Just about every tea I've had that I've considered really good has had whole leaves. The only exception may be some Darjeelings. I would imagine a bag of tea that contained only broken leaves when purchased vs the same tea with whole leaves will taste differently when brewed. Has anyone had this experience?