What gives tea its colour?

Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Each type of tea variety has a distinct aroma, flavor, and appearance. The different chemical compositions of these teas produce their distinct flavors and colors. So, what is it that gives tea its color?

Tea contains a variety of chemicals, but the ones most closely associated with the taste, aroma, and health benefits of tea are polyphenols, primarily flavonoids. These chemicals are produced by the plant to aid in its defense against predators and stress. During oxidation, flavanols are converted to theaflavins and thearubigins. They are indeed the substances that contribute to the dark color as well as the robust flavors found in oxidized teas. Flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins are believed to contribute to the color and flavor of a tea infusion.

Pure Ceylon black tea, for example, is rolled immediately after withering to aid in the initiation of the oxidation processes. The leaves of pure Ceylon black tea are cut and bruised. This causes the cell structure to be disrupted, allowing all the leaf juices (containing polyphenols) and enzymes to mix together and complete the oxidation process. The leaves are then completely oxidized before drying, giving them their dark color and rich flavor. black tea yielded a dark brown, almost black tea brew.

Ceylon tea brews can have a variety of beautiful color schemes, including oak brown, amber orange, jade green, and honey yellow. and the list continues.

It is evident that chemical compounds in tea produce its color. Thearubigins are highly reddish-brown molecules in brewed tea, and that may depend on the acidity of the liquid used. Next time you enjoy a cup of Ceylon tea, you will know how these gorgeous colors come to life.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store