What is the Colour of Tea?
Tea is a very popular beverage both in Eastern and Western cultures. One of the things that separates tea from other types of beverages is its colour. But what causes tea to change colour, and what is its natural colour?
Why Does Tea Change Colour?
The colour of tea is affected by how it is processed and brewed. It is created by pigments, tannins and proteins that are broken down and released according to the amount of time and temperature the tea has been exposed to. When tea is steeped with cold water, it does not produce pigments and tannins as quickly as when brewed in hot water, so the colour of the tea is different.
What is the Natural Colour of Tea?
The natural colour of tea depends on the type of tea being brewed. All types of tea come from the same Camellia Sinensis plant, but the difference lies in how the leaves have been processed, oxidised and dried.
- Green Tea – Green tea is both unoxidised and unfermented, so the leaves are the greenest and lightest in colour. Green tea is naturally a light yellow-green.
- White Tea – White tea is minimally processed, and the leaves are steamed, dried and fried instead of rolled and oxidised. This keeps the delicate leaves fresh and light, creating a very pale, golden or yellowish colour.
- Black Tea – Black tea leaves are the most oxidised and fermented which is why they have the darkest colour. The colour of black tea is brown, and takes on a red colour when milk is added.
- Oolong Tea – Oolong tea requires more processing than green tea, but less than black tea. It is semi-fermented and oxidised, so it’s in-between black tea and green tea in terms of colour, ranging from pale to deep amber.
- Pu-erh Tea – Pu-erh tea is a fermented, aged black tea which has a deep reddish-brown hue. Pu-erh tea is usually aged for years which makes it much darker than other teas, giving it a smoky flavour.
Regardless of the type of tea, all of them will naturally change colour when brewed with hot water, resulting in a range of shades from light yellow to dark brown. Finally, adding milk or lemon will also alter the colour of the drink.