The words "hewing and picking," which appear in The Classic of Tea indicate that in the early days of tea cultivation people might have climbed up the tea trees and chopped off the tips of the branches. As tea plants in certain southern areas are trees of rather tall stature, some locals trained monkeys to pick tea leaves for them. Nowadays, tea leaves can be picked by machine; nevertheless, hand-picking is still preferred in many places, as it is felt that this is the only way to meet the special tea-picking requirement for preserving the traditional varieties of tea.
Tea-picking methods vary by regions and seasons. According to the periods when the shoots start and stop growing, tea is defined as spring tea, summer tea, autumn tea, and even winter tea (which is only possible in southeastern