Withering is a process the occurs naturally for most all plant leaves. Withering simply refers to the loss of water and wilting of a leaf after it is picked from a plant. While the leaf withers the chemicals in the leaves start to react with the air, resulting in passive oxidation. This is most noticeable with the browning of a Banana. However, after bruising a leaf, you will begin to see a darker spot where the leaf was bruised. This is oxidation. Oxidation changes the chemicals in the leaves, resulting in changes in flavor in the finished tea product. Because of this, the harvesting and processing of tea leaves focuses on halting and stopping the oxidation process in some teas, while intentionally oxidizing leaves for other teas. This is why we have teas known as “oxidized tea,” Black tea, and “unoxidized tea,” Green tea. This is also why we have such a spectrum of flavors to enjoy when it comes to tea!
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