Blog 46: Can You Drink The Tea Leaf “Fuzz”?
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
In our black tea selection, we have two kinds of Golden Eyebrow/Jin Jun Mei (Chinese: 金骏眉, the highest grade in black tea): Scent of Longan and Dragon Beard. Even though both tea have the same high quality, their appearances are quite different. The differences become more significant when we infuse them. Dragon Beard produces a lot visible “golden fuzz”. If you use one of our “real leaf filter”, these golden fuzz would be filtered out and stay on the surface of the filter leaf. When you order Dragon Beard from us, we usually send you a special short paragraph just to explain that it is normal for Dragon Beard to have these “fuzz”. But what exactly are those “fuzz”, and how are they related to the quality of tea? Today, let’s talk about the fuzz on tea leaves.
Tea leaf fuzz is actually a character of some unique tea plants. Not all tea plants have leaves that grow the fuzz. For tea plants that do grow the fuzz, the amount of the fuzz is a positive sign of the tenderness and the quality of fresh leaves. The amount of the fuzz is also a major criteria in judging a final tea product. Therefore, the fuzz is highly valued by tea makers and experienced tea drinkers.
Younger the leaf, more and denser the fuzz. The length, the density, the thickness, the color and the distribution of the fuzz are all different among tea plants. The fuzz commonly grow on tips and smaller leaves. At the foot of the fuzz, there are more cells that secrete fragrances. This is why the fuzz can create a thicker aroma. When leaves grow bigger, the amount of fuzz would gradually decrease. In spring, when temperature starts to recover, the fuzz would grow with fresh leaves. The fuzz would reach its peak amount before leaves start to expand. This is why all premium white tea and black tea only harvest the tips, one tip and one leaf, or one tip and two leaves.
The color of the fuzz changes during the tea-making process. Green tea and white tea have white fuzz, and black tea normally have golden fuzz. This difference is the result of the level of oxidization of tea polyphenols in tea leaves. Tea polyphenols in green tea and white tea are not or slightly oxidized. Unoxidized tea polyphenols are colorless; therefore, the fuzz on green tea and white tea are still white. Silver Needle, for instance, has a nearly all white fuzz appearance. But tea polyphenols in black tea are highly oxidized into theaflavins and thearubigins. As a result, black tea such as Dragon Beard has golden fuzz. After infusion, these fuzz on tea leaves absorb water and expand, all essences in the fuzz are resolved in tea soup, and they enhance the quality of taste.
Higher amount of fuzz on tender leaves is a good character to many kinds of tea. Tips and small leaves with fuzz also acquire a special “fuzz aroma”, and they have a richer taste. However, we’d like to remind you that the amount of fuzz is not the only criteria in judging a tea. The quality of a particular tea is the result of many factors. The fuzz is a unique character of some tea such as our Dragon Beard and Silver Needle. The purpose of this blog is to explain why these tea have the fuzz. We only need to understand and appreciate their existence. We don’t have to demand that all tea should have the fuzz.
I hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at email@example.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions! Also, we have anew teawares! Be sure to check out our teaware page! Finally, get a 10% off on all teawares with code: LABORDAY!!!