About the tea leaf
In China where huge tea gardens grow, tea leaves are picked by hand. Women are given the job of picking the leaves because their fingers are very suitable for the plucking process. The leaves are very delicate and the process requires great precision. The leaves are shaped like a spearhead, and the best leaves are at the top of the shoot. The other leaves on the shoot are called “flags” and are considered a lower quality tea. Green tea comes from the first flags, and black tea from the other leaves on the plant.
The quality of the leaves depends on the time of year they have been picked. Spring time gives the best tea leaves, and the other months produce a lower quality tea. The leaves are picked all through the year most times, but often tea leaf pickers pluck the leaves during the first part of the year, and than will rest for the fall and winter months. This also gives the leaves time to renew themselves.
The best time of day for tea leaf picking is before 7am, and between 7-9am will also suffice. Farmers also choose after sunset to pick the leaves. The sun is not as strong at these times, and so the tea will be of higher quality. Some farmers dislike early morning picking, because the moisture in the leaves ruins the quality of the teas. According to the farmers, the drying process is more difficult with the moisture, and so they pluck the leaves in the afternoon. Farmers have to keep the tea plants free of fungi and insects. They prefer not to use pesticides, as pesticides ruin the flavors of the teas. Crops need to be re-planted when they become damaged, and processed immediately after picking for the highest quality in tea.
Deidre R. Bissonette
(ArticlesBase SC #348760)