||Home : Tea Library : Tea Types : Fermentation of Teas
types of tea come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The different types of tea (e.g. Black tea, Green tea, Pouchong tea, Oolong tea) are the result of
differences in the tea manufacturing process, and not due to different types of
tea plants. However, from experience, tea manufacturers have discovered that
certain varieties, locations, and seasons tend to produce Camellia Sinensis (tea
plants), which produce better qualities of certain classes of tea.
One of the key steps in the tea manufacturing process, that is a factor in determining the
type of tea that is produced, is the degree of fermentation the tea leaves are
allowed to undergo. The term fermentation when applied to tea is something of a misnomer, as the
term actually refers to how much a tea is allowed to undergo enzymatic
oxidation by allowing the freshly picked tea leaves to dry. This enzymatic
oxidation process may be stopped by either pan frying or steaming the leaves
before they are completely dried out. One method of classifying teas are is based on the degree of
fermentation: a) Non-fermented and Very Light Fermentation, b) Semi-fermented, c) Fully-fermented.
and Very Light Fermentation: These teas retain quite a bit of
their original flavor. Green teas fall in this category. Most green teas like Dragon Well stop the fermentation process through pan frying while
a few will stop the fermentation process through steaming. White teas undergo
very light fermentation during the withering process.
Sometimes these non-fermented and very light fermented teas will be scented with Jasmine petals to give the tea an
aroma of Jasmine. Examples of Non-fermented and very light fermented teas:
Green Tea, Dragonwell Green Tea, Pi Lo Chun, Steaming Green (Sencha), Jasmine
scented Green tea, Yellow Tea, White Tea.
which are allowed to undergo 10% to 80% fermentation fall into the broad
category of semi-fermented teas. Tea brewed from semi-fermented tea leaves have
a slight yellow to brown hue and possess a subtle fragrant aroma. These teas can
be further classified into three categories based on their levels of
- Light (10% - 20%):
Jasmine Tea (Pouchong scented with Jasmine petals), Pouchong Tea.
- Medium (20% - 50%): Oolong, Tung-Ting Oolong, Ti-Kuan Yin, TenRen's King's Tea.
- Heavy (50% - 80%): Champagne Oolong.
- Fully-fermented: Black teas are fully
fermented. Tea from Black tea leaves have a dark red hue and a sweet aroma of malt
sugar. Example: Black Tea.
Post-fermented: Teas which are allowed
to ferment and then have the processed stopped and later fermented again are known as post-fermented tea. Example: Pu-Erh Tea.