The tea has been growing powerfully this wet summer, since the last pruning on July 5. The field was covered with fresh harvestable tips in an astonishing 1 month after the last harvest, but at this stage, we’re still building up the fullness of the hedges, which means letting the branches grow and fill in. So, i waited 2.5 months from last pruning. In retrospect, 2 months would have been just fine.
The pictures tell part of the story, which starts at the 13th picture in the 2009 tea album, read the captions and click forward:
Day 1: at 7:30am, finally a sunny day, down to the field to harvest. Surprisingly thick wet dew on the plants. Over 3 hours to harvest all the tips. Thankfully the sun stays out, so it gets a chance to wither all day. Brought it in and weighed it, just under a kilo at 958g. That’s around twice as much at our first harvest!
Day 2: The goal is a black tea. No heating this time! I heated a little on our first harvest, aiming for an oolong, but ended up making it a green tea. The heat changes the enzymes which darken the leaves, so this time no heating until the very end. It took all day, three periods of rolling then resting. Here’s a video of the rolling process:
As an experiment, i pan-toasted half the resulting tea in the wok, on low heat for 10 minutes, tossing it by hand. Drying was in the dehydrator that we usually use for drying fruit, around 2 hours at 130F. Result: a total 305g of finished tea, very black in appearance, around 32% of the weight of the wilted primary leaf.
Processing tea is not easy to learn about! There is no information online, almost no books, on actual tea production. You could learn first-hand from visiting tea farms, but those parts of the world are very far way. There are a bewildering variety of ways to process tea, with many steps that take a lot of practice to do well.
The only known book in the English language that actual details production is Tea: Cultivation to Consumption (see tea media notes). Unfortunately it’s rare and expensive. Today Deb pointed me to the popular affordable The Story of Tea which also has a chapter on making tea. I’ve been putting that together with everything we’ve learned from other Hawaii growers, and a few HTS events and visiting experts.
We’ll find out tomorrow how it turned out – the moment of tasting!
This entry (Permalink) was posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 11:26 pm and is filed under crops, tea. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site.