Thursday, April 8, 2010

All tea is not the same

Quality of tea is determined by such factors as whether the tea
plants are wild harvested or cultivated on a tea farm,
elevation, harvesting and processing by hand or machine,
time of harvest and stress factors to the tea plants.

Wild harvested tea usually comes out of China.
It is considered the most flavorful and has more potency.
The wild harvested teas are rare and are of very high quality
due to the fact that the wild tea trees are not subject
to man made pollutants, over harvesting or artificial fertilizers.
Tea is usually harvested in the spring.


The spring harvested tea is considered
the best quality due to the weather conditions being
cool that cause the slowing down of the hardening of the tender shoots.
The flavor of a spring harvested tea has a more delicate one when
 compared to a late harvested tea, fall harvest.
Although, tea plantations have used seasonal harvesting to cultivate
 the different characteristics that are present within the influences of particular seasons.


Therefore, the distinction of the flavor is to be enjoyed seasonally.
Generally, there are two methods to harvesting tea - handpicking or machine cut.
Harvesting by hand indicates
the picking of the choicest part of the plant - the bud and the first 2 - 3 leaves.
The expression of this tea is usually sweet with floral notes and fresh.
This is the highest quality in the entire tea harvesting.
The harvesting of older leaves usually has a slight bitterness
 and astringency in the end product.
This is usually harvested by mechanical means - machine cut.


Hand picked

Hand picked leaves achieve better quality as there is selectiveness in the plucking of the teas.
The quality of the leaves picked is also determined by the experience level of the tea pickers.
The experienced tea picker has a subtle balance to the pressure applied to the tender shoots when plucked,
and this contributes further to the desired quality of the end product.
Inexperience in picking tea usually results in an inferior end product.

Machine harvesting


Machine harvesting or machine cut generally yields an uneven harvest.
Where the younger leaves and the young leaves are cut with some
of the older leaves incorporated into the harvest.
Machine cut harvest usually does not retain the leaf shape

Elevation, soil and stress

The flavor and the quality of tea is influenced by the amount of stress
that the tea plants encounter through elevation, soil conditions and temperatures.
The boldness and the superiority of the flavor emerges when these conditions of stresses are in balance.
The best quality teas come from higher elevation growth.
Low temperatures in the highlands keep the young shoots of the tea plant from hardening.
Frost can be the enemy of the tea plant as it likes sub-tropical conditions.
However, cross breeding of tea plants have yielded varieties that are able to withstand frosty conditions.
These tea plants have also as a consequence produced unique varieties in their flavors.
Lower elevations tea plantations causes the tea plants to grow faster due to higher temperatures.
Quality of tea is determined by such factors as whether the tea plants are wild harvested or cultivated
on a tea farm, elevation, harvesting and processing by hand or machine,
time of harvest and stress factors to the tea plants.

Green tea and oolong tea

There are 2 categories within this classification.
They are what is commonly known as green oolong and black oolong.
The green oolong is also commonly termed as green tea.
How green oolong is achived is dependant on the tea master who handles the processing.
like coffee crops that are sold prior to harvest,tea crops are sold only after the tea is harvested,
 processed and the taste test is conducted.
The final product sold is dependant on the quality of the end product.
Therefore, the tea quality of is dependant on
factors like weather, seasons and the final processing by the tea maker.
Freshly roasted green oolong is vacuum packed to preserve its freshness.
Black oolong is achieved by re-roasting the old green oolong.










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