|My first tea Camellia|
My British friend Nikki has a "plantation" of 9 tea Camellias in her city garden, which is a lovely mix of ornamental and edibles. Last week she mentioned beginning this year's tea harvest, and I asked how she processes it, she responded by inviting me over for Tea and a lesson! Nikki is a Brit, with roots in Belgium, and loves her tea!
Several years ago, Nikki attended a varietal tasting with a Tea Master, was entranced with the different flavors. When nearby Red Ridge Farms, where we purchased our tea plants, offered a workshop for processing green tea at home, she was in! The teacher had lived in China with his wife while she studied acupuncture, and learned from Chinese tea masters, and gave a step by step process suitable for small batches.
Our tea time yesterday began the afternoon before, when Nikki plucked sprigs of the top two or
|Harvesting of tea in China, Tao of Tea|
When I arrived, she brought out the basket of leaves which had wilted overnight, and were ready for the next step, placing the leaves in a wok on high heat, and tossing gently for a bit. Nikki asked me to bring old well washed cotton cloths, and we tipped the leaves onto a square, twisted the ends to form a ball, and rolled / kneeded the tea, while the oven heated to 400°
The next step was several rounds in the oven, in flat pans, then tipping back on the cloths to cool down in between rounds. (3 minutes, 2 minutes, and 1 minute) Each stage includes gently tossing and handling the tea.
One of the magic bits is how fragrant this fresh tea is as it begins to dry, with a flowery, almost Jasmine odor! Who knew? After the last round, we left the tea on the cloths, while we headed out to the garden, and "plucked" a new batch of tea tips! It sprinkled earlier in the afternoon, we were grateful the sun was back out, and the tea wasn't too damp.
|Freshly harvested tea leaves|
After gathering some garden goodies for me, lettuce, artichokes, herbs, ... we came back inside, and had a lovely tea, sipping a brew from leaves she harvested and processed just this week, in glass tea cups from Belgium, which a cousin sent!
Our tea included thyroid healthy snacks suggested by Medical Medium Anthony William: four banana slices topped with red dulse, several celery slices and a date, (and a bit of dark chocolate just for fun!)
It was a lovely afternoon, and I'm looking forward to my own adventures in tea making!
|Tea on the drying racks|