Monday, December 17, 2007

Why small-farm green tea tastes better

A reader recently asked this question: Do eco-friendly farming practices [such as those of our growers] have an impact on the taste of the harvested tea?

Here is my response:

Most definitely! For instance, letting the tea plants grow naturally (instead of speeding growth with fertilizer and whatnot) lets all of the natural flavor-enhancing compounds develop to their fullest. Our growers water their tea groves with only rainwater from the sky, which avoids "diluting" the tea leaves in the same way we've all experienced firsthand in hydroponically grown grapes. Also, at harvest time, our growers harvest only what they can process right away. This stops oxidation and fermentation, locking in the flavor (and all the healthy antioxidants). On huge corporate farms, harvested tea sits around fermenting in huge piles before being processed.

For the same reasons I mentioned above, small-farm green tea is also healthier for you: since it's processed immediately after harvest, tea like ours has more EGCG and other antioxidants. The fermentation that occurs in large piles of harvested tea not only destroys the natural flavor-enhancing compounds, but also breaks down antioxidants, too.

This just shows, Grasshopper, that sometimes, such as when making tea from harvested leaves, an overly mellow approach is not necessarily the best approach.

Processed right after harvest, locking in the flavor and all the healthy antioxidants.

—Mellow Monk

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