Spring Tea Harvest
Spring is a season that one can only guess what attire to wear or to bring. On one hand it may be chilly and a coat or sweater will keep us warm, and on the other it can be too hot and dry. One thing is almost certain though; it is always smart in the spring to be ready with the umbrella in hand!
Like the old saying goes: “April showers bring May flowers” is true. Rain is cleansing and readies the soil while it “wakes up” the earth. But too much of a great thing can do great harm to tender tea harvests.
Weather can affect the growing seasons of all crops farmed period. Most farmers and certainly tea plantations and gardens are simply at the mercy of Mother Nature!
When weather is too wet, it can have great impact on the quality of the harvested tea. When the weather is too hot or arid and dry, the annual yield and production of tea will be less than expected. And finally, if weather is too cold or frosty or icy it can actually “burn” the leaves! This can result with a total loss of the tea plant.
Tea harvesting starts to take place in different parts of the world during our American springtime. Last year (the 2009 growing season) of the Chinese province of Yunan dealt with extreme and harsh weather conditions that absolutely has created a challenge for the delicate tea plants. The leaves and shoots of the Camellia Sinensis plant are very tender.
The Yunan province faced a drought. This drought in fact, had not been seen in some fifty (50) years! This type of drought will delay the harvesting and the overall quality and the quantity of the tea itself. The provinces of Yunan, Hangzhou, and Zhejiang of China produce the largest percentage of the world’s pu’er, green, yellow, and white teas. When the tea production is affected, so too, may be the prices as well as the availability of the tea.
The Camellia Sinensis plant can be considered a shrub. The tea plant can grow up to thirty (30) feet tall! However, when the tea is cultivated for the sole purpose of harvest for drink, the shrub is cut back to 6’ foot on the high side and 4’ feet on the smaller side.
The tea plantations take great care and indulge the “pampering” of the tea plant. Most tea plants grown in the less tropical regions of the world such as in China are somewhat hardier than those in say India.
Tea plucking (harvesting) beings in spring and will go on through August. The tea can be picked by traditional means, such as by hand. The picker will delicately remove the tea bud and two (2) young leaves. The flowers from the tea plant may also be plucked and then dried and added to blended teas, or most likely for usage in the production of white teas. The hand picking can ensure that only the “best” or “unaffected” weathered leaves will be chosen.
Hopefully, overall, because there are so many good teas available now, we as tea drinkers will be able to remain happy tea drinkers and will be unfazed as to what will happen when unstable weather can affect the growing and the harvesting of tea!
So what’s in your cup today? Stop by my forum and let us know what you’re drinking!