Black tea processing: CTC & Orthodox VERTUS TEA

Black tea processing: CTC & Orthodox

India is renowned for its diverse tea culture, and black tea stands as one of the most popular variants. The rich and aromatic black teas produced in India are enjoyed by tea enthusiasts worldwide. Two distinct methods of processing black tea, CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) and Orthodox, are widely practiced in India. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of black tea processing, focusing on CTC and Orthodox methods, and answer three frequently asked questions related to this fascinating industry.

Black Tea Processing: CTC vs. Orthodox

  1. CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) Method

CTC is a modern and efficient method of black tea production, primarily used in India. The process involves the following steps:

a. Withering: Freshly plucked tea leaves are spread out to wilt and reduce moisture content.

withering process

b. Crushing: The withered leaves are passed through a series of rollers that crush, tear, and curl them into small, uniform pieces.

c. Oxidation: The crushed leaves are spread out in a controlled environment to undergo oxidation, where they turn from green to black, developing the characteristic flavor and aroma.

d. Drying: The oxidized leaves are dried to remove excess moisture, preserving the tea's shelf life.

  1. Orthodox Method

The Orthodox method is a traditional and artisanal approach to black tea production. This process involves more delicate handling of the tea leaves to preserve their natural form and flavor. The steps in Orthodox processing include:

a. Withering: Similar to CTC, the leaves are first withered to reduce moisture content.

b. Rolling: Instead of crushing, the withered leaves are gently rolled to shape them without tearing or curling excessively.

c. Oxidation: The rolled leaves are exposed to air for oxidation, a crucial step in developing the tea's flavor and aroma.

d. Drying: Finally, the oxidized leaves are dried to achieve the desired moisture content.

FAQs About Black Tea Processing

  1. Which method produces better-quality black tea, CTC or Orthodox?

The quality of black tea produced depends on various factors, including the type of tea leaves used, the skill of the tea master, and the desired flavor profile. CTC tea is known for its robust and bold flavor, making it ideal for masala chai. Orthodox tea, on the other hand, is favored for its complex flavors and is often considered more premium. It's a matter of personal preference, and both methods have their place in the world of tea.

  1. Are there specific regions in India known for CTC or Orthodox tea production?

Yes, different regions in India are known for specializing in either CTC or Orthodox tea production. Assam and parts of West Bengal are famous for their CTC tea, while regions like Darjeeling and Nilgiri and Kangra are renowned for producing high-quality Orthodox tea. The terroir, climate, and elevation in these regions contribute to the unique characteristics of their teas.

  1. How can I differentiate between CTC and Orthodox black tea?

The appearance of the tea leaves can help you distinguish between CTC and Orthodox tea. CTC tea leaves are small, granular, and uniform in size, while Orthodox tea leaves are larger and retain their natural shape. Additionally, the brewing process and taste experience will also differ, with CTC tea offering a robust, brisk infusion and Orthodox tea providing a more nuanced and complex flavor profile.


Black tea processing in India offers two distinct methods, CTC and Orthodox, each contributing to the rich tapestry of flavors and aromas that tea lovers enjoy. Whether you prefer the boldness of CTC or the complexity of Orthodox, exploring both varieties can lead to a deeper appreciation of the world of black tea.

If you have any more questions about black tea processing or tea in general, feel free to ask!

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