Polyphenol oxydase and the polyphenols themselves are stored in the plant’s cells, but when the cells are damaged, say by slicing an apple or dropping and bruising it, the cells are ruptured and the enzyme comes into contact with air. With the help of oxygen in the air, the polyphenol oxidase initiates a series of chemical reactions, transforming the polyphenols and eventually producing melanins (brown pigments).
The general name for this process is “enzymatic browning,” and the fabulous thing (for tea at least) is that it doesn’t just change the appearance of produce: it also alters flavor, scent, and nutritional value.
Chinese green teas are wok-fired, whilst in Japan they are steamed in a process called ‘fixing’. This is simply the application of heat to kill the naturally occuring enzymes in the leaf that would otherwise enable oxidation.
The liquor of green tea is clean, subtle, fresh and vibrant, and there is no better way to refresh and rejuvenate yourself during the day than to enjoy a cup of naturally sweet, antioxidant-rich green tea.
Light oolong tea leaves are given less of the “black tea treatment” first to get to the desired oxidation levels (typically No more than 40%). They then go through the “green tea treatment” to fix the oxidation level.
The liquor of light oolong tea can vary from floral to sweet sugar cane. They can also be very lightly toasted. There is no better way to brighten your day than to enjoy a pot of light oolong tea.
Typically they have been compressed into the form of cakes or bricks. They are perfect for current consumption and for vintaging.
The base green tea leaf is picked and processed in much the same way as if green tea is going to be made, plucked, roasted and left to dry in the sun. But after that the leaves are skillfully encouraged to ferment and then they are made into compressed tea cakes and stored for vintaging. This produces the characteristic earthy, autumnal flavours and aromas.
Green Pu Erhs are herbaceous, smooth, sweet, bright, brisk, clean, soft and slightly woody. There is a hint of roastiness, and they can be frisky if young. They have a lingering finish. The colour of the liquor is bright clear, from pale wheat-yellow to amber depending on the age of the tea.