The Production of 100% All Natural, Chinese PHatea

PHatea® 500 Years History

Although many have tried to duplicate the secret process of PHatea® production, none have proved successful because if even just one of the 32 steps is incorrect, the final product will not result in the color, flavor, value and health benefits of true PHatea®.

The entire process starts with a special quality camellia sinensis, the hardy, large tea leaves from the Hunan Province which are freshly cut and collected.

The first step from here is to perform a process called “kill green” or “cooking” which is low heat applied to the leaves to deactivate the oxidation enzymes triggered by removal of the leaf from the live plant. This deactivation stops the natural oxidation process of the leaf, the process we know more commonly as the “browning” which occurs for example, when an apple has been cut in half and begins to turn brown. PHatea® does not want this browning to occur on its leaves.

Next, a process called “kneading” or “smashing” is done in which leaves are tumbled to change them to a more compact, easily handled shape.

After this the rolled leaves are “piled” or put together in layers to allow them to dry out. This is the first natural fermentation to occur as the microorganisms on the leaves and stems interact with the leaves to change their chemistry, more on this later. The “piling” process is the longest process the leaves will remain in during processing, occurs at the farmers’ location, and can last almost a year.

The farmer will then “grade” the leaves and select only the leaves most suitable to produce the finest PHatea® product which are then bagged and sent to Yiyang Tea Factory in Yiyang City, Hunan Province.

The tea arrives at Yiyang in large white bags and the first step is to sift or sane out large stems and dirt or rocks. From here the first high temperature steaming process occurs. The leaves have hot steam passed through them for 50 seconds reducing unwanted bacteria. This steaming process also re-introduces moisture into the leaves.

The wet, hot tea is then put through another “piling” process to allow the remaining microorganisms to begin the second natural fermentation. The leaves are piled in a special cabinet, 2 meters deep, at a high temperature of 75-80degrees Celsius for three to four hours. A Tea Master will monitor the leaves, stirring them to allow uniform fermentation throughout the pile. This process is a natural fermentation of the tea leaves.

After this second stage of fermentation, the leaves are brought to an area of the factory to be made into compressed bricks of tea. The process begins with the tea leaves being sprayed with a “secret ingredient” handed down from generation to generation, and likely produced from prior batches of PHatea®. This secret ingredient will be the ‘starter’ to begin a final fermentation process and is unique to this tea. Steam is again used to soften and moisturize the tea leaves before they are then packed and pressed into metal molds to produce uniform bricks of PHatea®. In the modeling box the tea is allowed to cool over some 80 minutes and then removed from the casing to have excess material removed from the edges, producing a final uniform brick.

The bricks are then moved to shelving in special rooms where the temperature and humidity are controlled by another Tea Master. Here they remain for 12-15 days to allow the growth of the final mystery of PHatea®, the “golden flower”. This is why PHatea® is called post-fermentation tea as the final act occurs after the fermentation steps we spoke of earlier and bares no resemblance to the oxidation process seen in the production of other teas.

The Golden Flower is what is unique to PHatea®, the only tea to have this present during fermentation. Although PHatea® has been consumed for over 500 years, less than 30 years ago the mold responsible for the Golden Flower was discovered, the fungus species Eurotium Cristatum. This fungus reacts with the other microorganisms found only in the Hunan tea leaves, increasing the levels of tea polysaccharides and polyphenols (theaflavins and thearubigins) known to have significant health benefits. The Golden Flower is actually visible in the PHatea® brick.

The final step before packaging is a drying phase of 5 to 7 days at a temperature of 30-40 degrees Celsius. PHatea® continues to grow the Golden Flower in the brick improving its’ color, flavor, value and ultimately health benefits to the consumer as it ages, thus it “never goes bad” due to this unique property, the Golden Flower.