More on tea

Sep. 3rd, 2012 11:04 am
tylik: (greentea)
So, it will probably be a bit before I do another harvest, but let me document what I did:

First, I harvest a bunch of young leaves. Not super duper young leaves, but leaves that were still lighter green and highly pliable. (Keep in mind, this is a camellia - so the leave mature to be dark and waxy.) Oh, and for the last several months my tea plant has been on the edge of the flat bit next to the porch steps - so pretty shady.

The leave were already fairly dry, so I just took them indoors and steamed them for 30 seconds. Then I put them on a drying rack to dry. (I could have stuck them in a dehydrator, I likely with next time.)

I think the problem that I ran into with the first batch is mostly that the leaves, left to their own devices, will not easily release their wonderful contents to hot water. Reading a variety of sources, most usefully through google books, it appears that there is a rolling, twisting, or kneading step. (And I did get better results after crumbling the tea leave I had dried.) Having read quite a few accounts of how particular types of tea are made, this is how I'm reading this:

Once the tea leaves are withered, they become pliable, and can be rolled, kneaded or twisted without cracking or tearing. I think these different manipulative techniques break down the cellular structure and make the good stuff accessible. A lot of the references say "bring the juices to the surface" which seems like a pretty superficial explanation (as it were) but not entirely one disagreeing with my point.

Since I want to start making a green tea (though I might also try a white if I happen to have a bunch of good budsets all at once), I'm doing the steaming to deactivate the enzymes that will otherwise oxidize the contents. I'll then probably do a withering (let them dry at room temperature) and then some kind of rolling, finally sticking them in my dehydrator.

I haven't decided what I kind of rolling I'm going to do. Most likely I'll start by rolling them up from one tip another... and then fake it from there.

BTW - anyone else with tea plants, I would love to hear your experiences and experiments. And those who do not have tea plants but would like them? Let me bring to your attention Rain Tree Nursery. Also for those of you in the Western Washington area, you might see if Sakuma Brothers" might allow you to visit, as you are lucky enough to have a local tea grower around.

(Living in Ohio where the winters are just too damn cold, my tea plant is in a pot and brought in over the winter. But this is not a huge difficulty.)


tylik: (Default)

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