The Importance of Steaming in the Processing of Green Tea

Green tea is a popular beverage with numerous health benefits. The process of making green tea involves several stages, one of which is steaming. Steaming is a crucial step in the production of green tea as it inactivates enzymes that would otherwise change the composition of the tea leaves, thereby affecting the taste and health benefits of the tea.

Purpose of Steaming

When tea leaves are plucked, they contain enzymes that can cause changes in the components of the leaves, including the oxidization of catechins, one of the main components of tea leaves responsible for the astringent taste of green tea. Steaming is done immediately after the leaves are plucked to inactivate these enzymes and preserve the taste and health benefits of the tea. This process also helps to eliminate the smell of green leaves, generates the fragrance of green tea, and increases the flexibility of the leaves for easier handling.

Comparison with Other Teas

Black tea, for example, is not steamed because it contains high levels of catechins, which are oxidized to leave little astringent taste. The resulting oxidized compounds, such as theafrabin, give black tea its characteristic taste and color. Black tea is called fermented tea because of the fermentation process that occurs due to enzyme activities. On the other hand, green tea is called non-fermented tea because there is no fermentation process involved. Oolong tea and black tea are classified as half-fermented teas as they do not undergo the process of inactivating enzymes but are pan-fired during the procedure.

Other Varieties of Non-Fermented Tea

There are also other varieties of non-fermented tea, such as Kamairicha, produced in China. Kamairicha does not undergo the steaming process, but the enzymes in the leaves are inactivated when the leaves are directly heated on an iron plate.


In conclusion, steaming is a crucial step in the production of green tea. It inactivates enzymes, preserves the taste and health benefits of the tea, and helps to generate the characteristic fragrance of green tea. It is essential to note that the process of making different types of tea varies and that each variety has its unique characteristics.

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