Teafarm. The Camellia sinensis plant starts to flush out with fresh, new growth in early Spring. This new growth is what is used in tea production. Artisan plucked tea generally consists of the first two leaves and bud. You can pick all three, second leaf, first leaf and bud, to produce a superior tea or combine them in any order, the first leaf and bud, only the first two leaves and not the bud, or only the bud, etc. Each pluck is unique just as each tea produced from a pluck is distinctive.
For the past 3000 years or so, the experimentation and refinement of tea making has turned the processing of the world’s most consumed beverage into a true art form. It is not only what you harvest, it is also very important to know when to harvest. As the days of Spring begin to warm up, the bud sets change and grow rapidly. A bud that is beginning to form early morning can start to open up in a matter of hours.
The Camellia sinensis plant is delightful and fascinating. This one plant will produce a green tea, a black tea, a white tea and an oolong. The choice of what to harvest combined with the process determines the final style of tea.
In some parts of the world, the tea plants are not hand plucked but rather machine harvested, the finesse of each pluck is then centered more around the sorting of the harvest. Japan, for example, has developed many fine teas utilizing the different leaves and twigs.
Kukicha, also known as Twig Tea, is made from the fine twigs and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant. When still soft, the twigs are cut or shredded and then often roasted slightly. The result is a very pleasant, flavourful, almost nutty, smooth cup. It is a great evening tea as it contains very little, to no caffeine.
We are currently, clipping our 6-year old tea plants and are preparing to process the twigs into a beautiful roasted twig tea. Stop by the farm in September to try a truly unique Cowichan tea.
Victor Vesely is a tea farmer and purveyor of fine and fun organic teas.