It is useful to allow the leaves to wilt for a few days as the initial drying means less moisture for the steam to remove and makes it easier for the steam to open the oil glands and extract the oil.
These branches are trimmed into short lengths using a sharp machete. Hand processing allows any insects to be removed and weeds which could cause allergies, making the oil free of any possible contamination.
The trunks and thicker branches have no oil in them and when all the leaves and twigs have been trimmed off, the leafless branches are taken to a stock pile which builds up over the year. In early spring, we hire a big commercial mulcher to chip this woody material which is used to create a large compost heap. The composted material is then spread back around both the Tea Tree, the vegetable garden and around our Feijoa bushes.