Fermenting Tea – The Secret of Making Tea
Fermenting tea has been a common practice in many cultures for thousands of years. Many modern teas – including black tea – are part of this tradition. This is already the main difference to green tea: This is not fermented, but processed directly into green tea after harvesting without fermentation.
Green Tea and Black tea: Same Origin, Big Differences
Both green tea and black tea, like many other types of tea, are obtained from the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The leaves are harvested and then directly processed. This is where it is determined which tea varieties are obtained from which leaves – accordingly, there are great differences in processing. At TEEKANNE, we attach great importance to close cooperation with our local suppliers. With many of them, we have been in established partnerships for decades and therefore benefit from a very trusting basis.
To ferment tea leaves, they are first spread out in so-called withering troughs and well ventilated. The leaves begin to wilt. Then the cell juices and essential oils contained in the leaves are released. This is done with machines that roll up the tea leaves again and again, gradually breaking the cell walls. This produces a moist, dark green leaf material with leaf particles of varying sizes. Only then does the actual fermentation take place: in a warm, humid environment, the released cell juices react with the oxygen in the air. In this way, the leaves turn dark and become black tea. Fermentation gives the tea its unique flavor. For preservation, the tea is dried at the end after fermentation.
The processing of green tea is quite different: instead of fermenting the tea, it is only heated or steamed briefly after harvesting and then already rolled. This is followed by final drying by hot air or roasting. In Japan, green teas are often steamed again even after the rolling process. In this way, the chemical processes that take place in other teas are permanently stopped. For green tea and black tea, the effect of drying is the same – it serves as the completion of the manufacturing process, only the division according to the size and quality of the finished tea leaves takes place.
Green Tea and Black Tea: Effect of Processing Methods
Green and black tea benefit from the effect of the different processing methods. Both receive unique flavors that contribute to the different taste experiences of both tea variations.
By the way, if you steep your black tea a little longer, more tannins will enter the finished tea. Thus, a longer brewing time gives your tea a stronger flavor. Try different infusion times and find the right strength for you.
Green tea especially feels the effect of the drying method. If it is roasted in a pan, the resulting varieties will have a slightly smokier flavor. Japanese steamed green teas are characterized by tangier, fresher taste.