IFF expands tea portfolio

Source: FoodProcessing.com

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Ingredients Editor

Jun 19, 2008

If you think you’re up on tea because you know that EGCG is an acronym for epigallocatechin gallate and that it makes green tea a big seller among antioxidant fans, you still have a ways to go. But no problem, the tea masters, flavorists and chemists at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), New York, are willing to guide you the rest of the way.

IFF has expanded its tea portfolio with flavors from around the globe. Inspired by the history and the culture of tea, this collection contains authentic profiles of the world’s most popular beverage. These premium flavors capture the delicacy, nuance and sophistication of the aromatic originals.

Working directly with growers from plantations around the world, IFF has combined its extensive understanding of flavor chemistry, the expertise of its research and development teams and the creativity of its flavorists to develop this expanded collection. White Peony, Long Jing, Gyokuro, Oolong Tie Guan Yin, Darjeeling, Jasmine Green and Chrysanthemum are just some of the exotic varietals included in the portfolio and formulated for a range of applications.

“Our people have a passion for creating the best possible flavors,” explains Marie Wright, flavor creation manager. “The flavors in this portfolio capture not only the classic attributes that differentiate one varietal from another, but also the subtle, elusive nuances. The hearty toasted molasses notes of Darjeeling, the delicate apricot and brown spice character of White Peony tea and the fresh-cut grass aroma of Long Jing are expertly crafted and recreated for a full, authentic experience.”

The tea portfolio, which showcases IFF’s Natural flavors along with Nature Identical, is available globally.

All true tea comes from Camilla sinensis, a white flowered species of evergreen. So don’t make the mistake of calling herbal tea tea.

The Chinese have enjoyed tea for thousands of years, and there are many legends surrounding the origin of its use as a beverage. In one popular legend, the emperor Shennong was drinking hot water when a few leaves from an evergreen tree blew into his bowl, coloring the water. To his surprise, the flavorful beverage was highly restoring. True or not, something about tea caught on because today over two and a half million metric tons of tea per year are produced worldwide.

While there is one species of true tea, there are many “varietals,” or versions of the same plant either native to or cultivated in different parts of the world, each with its own unique flavor and aroma. But that’s just where the variety of flavors and aromas begin. Creative processing and a continuum of oxidation techniques bring out the unique properties of each tea.

White tea is the least processed, mostly picked and dried. Green tea is halted from the oxidation process by quick pan frying or steaming. Oolong is wilted bruised and partially oxidized, while traditional black teas are crushed and allowed to fully oxidize. The result of the combination of varietals and processing techniques produces flavors and aromas ranging from delicate fruit and floral zest to strong charred and savory, beefy mushroom tones. To those only familiar with the common bag of tea or iced tea in the summer, the variety is nothing short of stunning.