Flavor Password of Tea

One small tea leaf contains thousands types of substances that contribute to its complex textures and flavors. Cha Moods hosts here a tiny chemical lesson on what they are and how they contributes to the different flavors.


The following substances ranks from high to low in terms of its percentage of the all dry substances of tea (tea has 75% water and the rest dry substances):

  • Tea Polyphenols - Catechin, Flavonols, Tannins etc: 25%: bitterness and astringency 
  • Disaccharide - Pectin: 20%, creaminess, viscosity, sweet
  • Esters: 8%: aroma. Lot's of varieties although very little percentage
  • Amino Acids- Theanine, : 4%, umami, sweet, sour, freshness
  • Caffeine: 2-4%, bitterness
  • Saponin: bitterness, spicyness

Different types of tea that went through different procedures and made from different cultivars thus have different amounts of these substance, for example the tips have higher caffeine contents than that of the leafs, tea harvested in summer have more bitter substance than that of spring, etc.

The brewing methods also matters to how much of these substances seeps out into the tea soup: when cold brewing, the more easily water soluble substances such as Theanine and esters come out first, resulting in a fresher and umami taste profile. Cold brewing inhibits some bitterness causing substances such as Tannins and caffeines. We tried brewing with hot water the tea leaves that has already been cold brewed, and a different layer of flavor comes out.

We would talk in a separate blog in details about the functions and health benefits of these various substances. Stay tuned!


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