I am asked quite often about the language of tea. There are quite a few terms and meanings that can confuse the consumer upon purchase of a particular tea. Here below are a few of them that as a constant come up. I hope that this may help in deciphering the tea terms that may be used and never defined.
What does a flush mean?
Tea is from the camellia senensis plant. Tea is grown, harvested or plucked, and then processed in a variety of ways.
Depending on the conditions, the area, the climate of that area, and the amount of exposure to the direct or indirect sunlight during the growth of the tea plant will determine that processing.
A tea flush is a growing season. They are usually broken down into small seasons. The first flush is the first harvesting of the plant after the dormant winter months. The first takes place in late April to early May. A second flush is from June to July. A third flush is from late July to early August. Depending on the conditions of growth there could be many more flushes.
The term first flush applies to the new growth of leaves and buds on top of the plant.
The first flush produces the most sought after tea. Many believe this is the “best” tea available. The leaves of the first flush are tender and very light green. First flush typically has more flavor and garners a higher price tag to the consumer.
The second flush is where the quality tea is. The tea leaves are considered more mellow and the tea has an amber color. This is the point in which the famous Darjeeling tea is processed and made.
The third flush is the picking time when the monsoon’s hit. The rain eventually will “ruin” the quality of the tea.
A fourth flush is in the autumn when tea has a copper colored hue but a very delicate taste.
In very temperate climates that have a year round growing season there may be up to ten flushes.
What is Assam?
Assam is not a religious term! Assam is a very large area in India that harvests black tea that is pungent and malty.
What is the cream of the tea?
The cream of the tea simply means the clarity of the brewed tea. Once tea has steeped and then the tea is removed, and as the tea cools-if it is clear the quality of the tea is good.
What is Cambric tea?
Cambric is when you make tea weakly and then add sugar and cream/milk.
What is Ceylon?
Ceylon is an island that is off the coast of India. In 1867 a man named James Taylor had planted 18 acres of tea plants. Ceylon is fast becoming a leader in the tea industry.