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 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”.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.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.Generally PHatea® may cause some increased elimination (urine and stool) at first.
PHatea® does not want this browning to occur on its leaves.
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.
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.
Next, a process called “kneading” or “smashing” is done in which leaves are tumbled to change them to a more compact, easily handled shape.