Where does the taste of tea come from?
In order to crack this myth, we are going to get a little bit scientific, starting from the chemical, chlorophyll is a molecule which makes tea’s singular astringent taste, therefore if the intent is to make certain green teas, growers will shade the leaves with nets in order for the plant to produce more chlorophyll.
Most of what we see on the market is processed tea, various handling process can intensify and modify the taste of tea, for instance, leaves are immediately tossed in a hot pan or steamed to make green tea; leaves are dried and bruised, then cooked to make oolong; and black tea is resulted from the longest drying process, then got cooked in a hot pan to give that roasty flavour.
The drying process allows the native enzymes in the plant to transform simple molecules into complex ones, which provide fragrance to the tea.
The most famous in tea-chemistry circles is probably theaflavin, a tangle of carbon rings responsible for some of the ruddy colour of black teas as well as some of the astringency. Different chemical profile is produced in different handling process, hence different kind of tea has a unique aromatic profile.
Now you know the big secret behind all teas, don’t forget to appreciate the effort people put in for that warm cup of tea!