What Does “CTC Tea” Mean?

CTC means “crush, tear, and curl”. Teabag tea is also called CTC tea.

Orthodox Teas are whole leaf teas manufactured using the traditional process of making tea. CTC Teas are made through the Crush, Tear, and Curl (CTC) process of manufacture producing a granular leaf particle. They comprise of 3 main grades: the brokens, fannings, and dust with dust being the finest particles of tea following a progressive sieving process.

Orthodox vs. CTC by Judy Lo

CTC is not an inferior tea, despite biases against it promoted by tea enthusiasts. It’s just a different processing method that will extract more chemicals from the leaves.

The flavors derived, thus, are different, and the tea will taste different.

Consider that all teas are from the same tea plant species, but taste very different. The difference between Japanese green tea, Chinese green tea, oolong tea, black tea, white tea, Indian teas, Korean teas, Taiwan teas, and pu erh teas is largely due to differences in processing.

Moreover, the availability of one tea or other tends to influence the preparation of the final drink. In Japan and China, the processing is focused mainly on whole leaf, and the drinking is of whole leaf tea. So it’s no wonder that people who drink Japanese and Chinese styles of tea are quick to denigrate CTC teas.

In India and the UK, where CTC teas dominate, and the strong flavor of CTC is common, the preparation is with milk and a hint of sugar. Spiced tea is also popular.

It’s impossible to compare the different preparations, because the final tea drink is entirely different. They both taste like tea, but are completely different experiences.

Additionally, consider that tea growing is still expanding. Tea originated in Northern India and Tibet, and expanded to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It’s also grown in South Africa and likely will grow in many parts of Africa. There is even tea being grown in the United States and Canada.

With new climates and new soils, new forms of tea, and tea processing and preparation will be developed.

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