The perfect timing of tea harvesting is really important as it can take only a few days to several weeks for tea buds to appear. When’s the best time to harvest tea leaves largely depends on the region where they are being grown. Some other important factors like season, weather fluctuations, climate changes, sunlight, humidity, and water supply also play a vital role. Here’s the best regional guide to seasons for tea harvesting around the globe.
India, Nepal, and Sirilanka
In these countries, the optimum harvest period last from March to November and can be broken up into following parts;
⦁ First Flush: From March to April
⦁ Second Flush: From May to June
⦁ Monsoon Flush: From July to August
⦁ Autumn Flush: From October to November
Taiwan and China
In these countries, the growing season varies greatly between several growing regions, but in general, the ideal season ranges from late April and can last until mid-November. The season can be divided into
⦁ Clear, bright: Picked before April 4 (Qing Ming: According to East Asian lunisolar calendar)
⦁ Before the rains: Picked before April 18-20 (Yu Qian: According to East Asian lunisolar calendar)
⦁ Grain rain: Picked before May 4-6 (Gu Yu: According to East Asian lunisolar calendar)
⦁ The start of Summer: Picked before May 21 (Li Xia: According to East Asian lunisolar calendar)
The ideal tea harvest season in Japan starts from early April and can last until early October. It has five distinct harvest periods:
⦁ First harvest (Ichibancha): Ranges from late April to May
⦁ Second harvest (Nibancha): Ranges from June to the end of July
⦁ Third harvest (Sanbancha): Harvested in August
⦁ Fourth harvest (Yonbancha): Harvested in Late October
South Korea’s harvest seasons correspond to the lunisolar calendar and here’re the details
⦁ Before the rain “Ujeon ”: Picked before April 20
⦁ Small sparrow “Sejak”: Picked before May 5-6
⦁ Medium sparrow “Jungjak”: Picked around May 20-21
⦁ Large sparrow “Daejak”: Picked during summer.
Due to lack of a cold season, tea can be harvested year-round in the East African tea producing countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Ethiopia.
Steps of Tea Processing
All types of tea, whether it be green, black, white or oolong comes from the leaves of a single tea plant, “Camellia Sinensis”. This concept may seem unique to you that how can the same tea leaf be transformed into such wide variety of flavors. So following are the steps that yield such incredible infusions.
Growing: Growing of the tea plant is first and probably the most ubiquitous step in making tea. Growing region, season and harvesting methods play a major role in the flavor of the end product.
Withering: Softening or withering is the first processing step to soft the thick and waxy leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The leaves are softened to make them pliable for crafting.
Bruising: It means rolling, twisting or otherwise crushing of the tea leaves. After withering, tea leaves go through various styles of bruising to facilitate the next step; oxidation.
Oxidizing: Oxidizing means the tea leaves, especially for producing black or oolong tea are left to oxidize. This method turns their color to brown. This step is basically the differentiating factor for different colors of various tea types.
Fixing: To prevent tea leaves turning brown and to stop the oxidation step, tea leaves are fixed by applying heat or enzymes. This step is done to make sure the original green color is still left.
Drying: It is the last step that all tea leaves must undergo to remove moisture and create a shelf-stable product.