What started off as a perfect winter with weeks of cloudless blue skies inevitably gave way to the last month or so of miserable rain. But it's all good, the blue skies have come back today and it's now only 1 week until spring which means two things:
- 1, only one more season until Summer, BBQ and road trips!
- And 2, Tea harvest!!!
The best tea is picked at the very beginning of spring, when all life once again begins to flourish after battling a long harsh winter. The tea pickers get back out into the fields, catching some rays while the crisp mountain breeze offers a refreshing reminder of what has just been.
Of course it would be tea picking time if we grew our tea in new Zealand, but we don't, it comes from rural China and is picked during their spring in April/May. But never mind, now is just as good a time as any to take a look at what makes Informal's Pure Green tea the best tea around.
Our tea is first flush Imperial grade, the highest grade in China. The tea is picked with one bud and one small leaf — with the bud and leaf joined by a stem.
The first flush is the first tea harvest after winter. This is when the young leaves are at their subtle best and allow for drying and shaping techniques are that are impossible later in the harvest. The first flush season is short and comprises of just 10% of an annual tea harvest.
After the leaves have been picked, it's a race against time. Green tea remains green because it is dried quickly to avoid oxidization while black tea is black because it has been left to undergo oxidative change. Our tea is pan-dried in an large wok-like device where it undergoes multiple steps of drying, rolling and hand shaping to produce the leaves that will one day end up in your tea pot.
During the picking and processing, it's important to keep the leaves full and intact. Bitter tea is a result of tannins that have leaked from broken tea leaves during the infusion process.
So that's that. Now go buy the best green tea around and enjoy the sun while it lasts because there's more rain on the way next week.
A fresh new spring bud from our prized tea plant at Informal HQ in Tauranga.