Make Your own Naturally Fermented Sparkling Tea Part 1/2

Spill the tea

Fermentation is a very interesting topic for me. Unfortunately, there aren’t many choices of commercial yeast strains to be found here in Hong Kong. The most common product is yeast ball that is used in the production of rice wine. I am just thinking, instead of always having the same yeast, it would be interesting and adventurous to capture some wild yeast and make the sparkling tea from scratch.

This article contains two parts, the first part is how I obtain the yeast from the tea leafs. The second part is how I use the yeast to make a sparkling tea.

Where can Wild Yeast be found?

Research tells us that yeast occurs naturally in some fruits and in the air, which surrounds us. When environmental conditions are correct wild yeast multiply on their own and convert sugars into alcohol. As an enthusiast of tea beverages I want to see if dry tea leaves have any wild yeast.

When tea leaves are freshly picked, there should be yeast present but the process of fresh tea leaves into dry leaves may be too harsh for any yeast to survive. That means our exercise is to determine if any wild yeast survived the process go from fresh tea-leaf to dry tea-leaf. To make that determination I selected assorted dried tea leaves for the experiment. I also chose two fruits for comparison.

Preparation

A solution is prepared that is 20 percent white sugar. Jars to be used in the experiment are pasteurized to eliminate any contaminants. The tea leaves selected for this part of the experiment are placed in the jars with the sugar solution. The jars are closed but the lids are loose, in order to allow the air to enter the jars and each jar is shaken once or twice daily to supply it with fresh air. The room temperature is maintained between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.

Experiment Results

Of five tea leaves used in the experiment three contain yeast. As a result of the experiment, there are now five different yeast cultures. Two are from fruits and three are from dried tea leaves. It is unknown, at this time, if these five yeast strains are the same. My question is how will these five different yeast cultures affect the taste of a beverage?

Tea

Organic White Down Silver Needle (Fuding) -> Yeast Found

Premium White Peony – > Yeast Found

Green Pu-erh (Shui Huang Jin)  -> Yeast Found, Mold Found

Black Pu-erh -> Mold Found

Wuyi Oolong (Heavily Roasted) – > No visually sign of mold and yeast

Fruit

Kiwi-> Yeast found

Mandarine-> Yeast found

Experimental Observations

White-Down Silver Needle Culture Day1
White Down Silver Needle Yeast Culture day8

Total length of the experiment was 8 days. Two days after the experiment started, the White Down Silver Needle dried tea leaves and fruits showed signs of yeast. First there was a pungent sweet smell and signs of bubbling as a result of the chemical reaction where sugar and yeast combine and result in the formation of alcohol and Co2 ( the bubbles). Three days later the White Peony, followed by the Green Pu-erh dried tea leaves also started to bubble. Black Pu-erh and Wuyi Oolong with sugar concoctions showed no signs that indicating the formation of alcohol or Co2.

Summary

There may be a good reason that the dried White Tea leaves worked best in the experiment. White Down Silver Needle and White Peony Tea are both teas that have a minimal amount of processing from fresh picked tea-leaf to dry tea-leaf. In fact, the process they undergo is totally natural, wilting and drying in the sun. Apparently, the natural wild yeast present in their environment remains somewhat active.

I consider my experiment a success. The wild yeast obtained from White Tea is strong and active, as noted by the fierce bubbling action. My next experiment will be to make alcohol with this white tea wild yeast. In the end, obtaining wild yeast was much easier than I thought. If you have access to dried White Tea leaves perhaps, you can try to duplicate my experiment. It would be interesting to get information on the results that you get.

Reference

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, 2nd Edition Paperback, by Sandor Ellix Katz  (Author), Sally Fallon Morell (Foreword)

Home Made Tea Wine

Spill the tea

Spill the tea

Make Your own Naturally Fermented Sparkling Tea 2/2

Spill the tea

Spill the tea

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