No Products in the Cart
Oxidation is a process whereby the compounds that are stable in the living cells of plants are exposed to oxidation enzymes, that are also present in different parts of the leaf, in the presence of oxygen. This “combining” starts to occur when the leaf is first harvested and is accelerated when the leaf is purposely crushed and battered during processing.
Fermentation on the other hand involves bacteria or yeast, in the absence of oxygen, that consume sugars to produce other compounds…like alcohol in the case of beer and wine. Hence, tea is oxidized not fermented…of course there is one exception which is pu-erh tea which is fermented after it is oxidised but that is another discussion.
With the above in mind, it is the oxidation of the leaves or the lack thereof, that creates distinct differences in the colour, taste, and nutritional properties of the leaves. This is also completely true for our Tea’d Greens. All our teas are made from the green leaves of barley, wheat and oats and the differences between green, oolong and black is the degree of oxidation the leaves undergo during our processing.What is the relevance to you? First, let’s talk about colour…as the leaves oxidise, they tend to darken. Think of how an apply browns when cut or a banana (is it just me or does it seem like bananas darken way to quickly now) …I digress. It is enzymatic oxidation that causes the browning. The longer the leaves are oxidized the browner they become, and hence black tea has a darker hue than green tea. It is chlorophyll that is responsible for the green pigment you see in green leaves. The oxidation begins to transform the chlorophyll into other compounds that are devoid of the green pigment.
Interestingly, plants are amazing chemical factories, and there are compounds present in the leaves that work to slow oxidation. We have found that our green leaves do not darken quickly. Rather there must be compounds present that dramatically slow the process.Although we oxidize our black varieties for several hours the leaves still have a green hue, which is different than traditional black tea.
Next, we consider taste, and the role oxidation plays. Our green tea has a flavour that is more vegetal and “greeny” …yes, I made up the word. It has a bright flavour and feels very clean on the palate, which is why we called it Clean Green.In contrast, the oolong and black teas take on flavours that are deeper, more robust, perhaps described as caramel or malty. This is a direct result of how oxidation creates newly formed compounds with different taste profiles.
Finally, I want to spend some time on the nutritional differences. Certainly, one of the reasons people consume our tea is for the nutritional benefit. Plants are chalk a block full of many many different phytochemicals. Many of them are necessary for the growth of the plant…think back to your school lectures on photosynthesis. There are compounds that have been isolated and studied by science because of their tremendous benefits to human health. Think of the plethora of supplements notwithstanding the various vitamins and minerals that line the shelves of health food stores. Simply stated, there is no replacement for the inclusion of greens and vegetables in our diets. I imagine as I type this article many of us continue to promise ourselves to eat more fruit and vegetables.
You now may be wondering what exactly does oxidation do to the nutrients found in the green leaves of our teas and what is the significance to me as a consumer?To understand the role oxidation plays in the nutrient profile of our leaves we sent samples of our green, oolong and black leaves to an accredited research lab. The samples contained a green, oolong and black variety in each of our barley, wheat, and oat leaves. We wanted to see what the individual plants were specifically bringing to the table as we have always believed there is a synergistic symphony occurring between the three. The final analysis was detailed but let me touch on a few interesting findings.
Firstly, there is no question that enzymatic oxidation creates different compounds when comparing our green tea leaves to our black tea leaves and showed significant individual differences between the three plants as well.
Chlorophyll…. Amino acids…. Tryptophan…. Tocopherol….
Natures sanitizer and cleanser…was significantly higher across the board in our green leaves than our black with Oolong falling in between.
Amino acids….The building blocks of protein…greens are a complete protein meaning they contain all the essential amino acids (the ones our bodies cannot produce) … oxidation increased the amino acid profile generally and had specific differences in that black barley was highest.
Think of an overstressed anxious mind that is unable to relax. It was significantly higher (5x) in the black leaves than in the green leaves. Interestingly GABA is available as a supplement but knowing the above and remembering our teas are naturally caffeine free, sipping our tea before bed after a stressful day would be welcoming. Isovitexin….
I don’t want to turn this into a research paper and fear it is too late but in summary, the analysis showed significant nutritional differences between the green and black leaves as well as differences between the three different leaves of barley, wheat, and oats. This analysis cemented our belief that there is a synergistic benefit to including the leaves of all three plants in our teas. .
Clearly oxidation plays an important role in the nutrient formation in the different varieties of our teas. What we have learned thus far is that there is an art, and one we are still learning, to how long to oxidise the leaves and what are the ideal conditions. Our curiosity combined with a passion to produce the most nutritious and tasteful tea will see us continue along this quest.
One final comment, plants contain a complex matrix of phytonutrients. The interaction of the various nutrients and their impact on human health is not fully understood. But what we can say is taking nutrients in isolation will not belay the benefits of consuming nutrients within the whole plant matrix. One of the principal benefits of Tea’d Greens is that you are drinking a tea that is an infusion of the complete plant matrix. I think this is what nature intended.