Tea-culture is each science and artwork. To produce a masterfully crafted tea requires each precision and instinct, accuracy of method and sheer inspiration, very similar to composing and performing music.
In each circumstances, science helps artwork. It’s priceless to make use of tea-terms fastidiously, and to elucidate the tea-cultivating course of and methodology as exactly as potential as a way to extra totally respect the subsequent cup. An instance is the phrase “fermentation”.
Teas are sometimes described as semi-fermented, and fermented, and that is hardly ever the case. Teas are usually semi-oxidized, and oxidized. The phrases are sometimes used interchangeably, however this may increasingly result in confusion.
Fresh picked tea-leaves endure enzymatic oxidation just by exposing them to air and permitting them to dry. This course of differs scientifically from how true fermentation is outlined. “Ferment” usually requires the motion of yeast, micro organism or mildew.
Part of the artwork of tea cultivating is deciding when to cease this oxidization course of. This could also be achieved with steam, or dry warmth, in varied methods. Classically, this was executed over wood-fire, charcoal or warmth vents. Heating deactivates the enzymes which have been triggered by plucking the leaves, and figuring out when to step into the cycle is an instance of tea-making mastery. This sense of timing is realized and taught, but additionally should be felt, in a much less literal method.
If we’re the Camellia sinensis plant, a tea’s final kind will probably be decided by how a lot oxidization is allowed to happen. In their pure state, the leaves wilt if not dried quickly after selecting. As the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down, the leaves darken, and tannins are launched.
The mathematical prospects start to unfold as you ponder the potential variations. White teas are historically wilted, and fully unoxidized. Green teas are each unwilted, and unoxidized. Oolongs are wilted, then bruised or “rattled” to an exacting degree, and partially oxidized between 1%-99% relying on the artisans outcome they need to reveal. Black teas are wilted, bruised, and totally oxidized. There are nearly limitless nuances of variation potential between the plucking of the recent leaf and the last mixing, together with including florals, fruit, spice and different parts earlier than the combination is steeped. Natural cycles, comparable to season and rainfall, additionally vastly have an effect on the tea-leaf, its nature, high quality and character. All of those elements decide the lightness, depth and taste of the brewed tea.
The indisputable fact that the potential of the tea-leaf is unleashed merely by publicity to air—and never by the extra chemically advanced motion of true fermentation—makes a cup of tea much more of a factor of marvel.