I do a lot of hand processing because I can learn a lot about tea leaf and how it goes through changes. At every moment I can feel the leaf and the change. The leaf tells me what to do at each stage. All the mistakes I make will show in the cup. Tea is very honest.
Hand processing definitely teaches me more about appreciating tea. Espeically when it opens in a tea pot, it expresses in unique movement. It shows my personality. Sometimes it makes me laugh. I must have been….
Shape of dry leaf can tell a lot of story too. Most time I learned to control my hand motion and force to shape in certain way, but yet sometimes difficult to concentrate. I continue to hold the perfect image during processing, but alas, again the leaf shows my mood. It’s almost like zen meditation. Empty my mind, and it will shape into its true nature. Romantic…, but think about 10 hours of continuous processing, can you hold your mind empty for that long?
I feel like I am still far from the perfect image and I hope someday I will get there, but I wonder if the true nature of tea is any close to the perfect image I hold.
Then I turn to machine processing. Machine is mindless, so it can process with no personal bias, I suppose, but it needs operator to run the machine. An operator also monitors and checks the leaf condition frequently so there is some human interference. Even fully automated machine is built to make a certain type of tea that someone designed.
Machine processing does not show fatigue like hand processing. Hand processing often shows inconsistency. First batch is good, but second one could be a little fatigued and third one even more while machine maintains the consistent outcome.