These teas are grown in the Assam Valley of India. To the far north east of India is the state of Assam, known for the one-horned rhino and the Brahmaputra river. Along both sides of this mighty river lie the rolling plains of the world’s largest tea growing area along with the highest yield per acre. Assam is the birthplace of India tea as discovered by Robert Bruce in 1823. Tea plants are cultivated in tea gardens on large cultivatable land of up to 1,000 hectares. There are about 2,000 plantations in Assam.
Mid April- Late May
First flush These qualities are of rather little economic significance for the European market. These tea are mostly aromatically fresh, light poured and of rather tart character. For this reason they do not meet the traditional Assam character.
Early June- Mid August
Second flush Assam teas from the second pluck period are of greatest relevance in terms of quality and export business. These qualities are often very â€œcoloredâ€ (high portions of tips), with a pouring that is mostly very dark and have a typical strong, full-spicy and malty character. The second flush produces the famous “tippy” teas. It is this feature of the teas of the second flush that make them more popular. (Tippy refers to black tea with gold tips or what appears to be golden-colored leaf). The amount of tip will vary dependent upon where in Assam the estate from which the tea comes is located. Additionally, not all tea estates have the ability or capacity to produce these “tippy” teas. An examples of an Assam “tippy” tea is Hunwal. The golden tip present in Assam tea lessens the astringent characteristic of the tea and make it sweet and smooth. Therefore, Assam tea can be malty, as well as sweet and smooth. These are qualities that all tea drinkers enjoy!
These teas are grown in the Darjeeling Province of India at 6,562 feet above sea level and is nestled in the foothills of Himalayan Mountain Range. This picturesque setting contains 42,008 acres of tea bushes (according to the Tea Board of India) producing the exquisite Darjeeling tea that is unequalled anywhere in the world.
The cool and moist climate, the soil, the rainfall and the sloping terrain all combine to give Darjeeling its unique “Muscatel” flavor and exquisite bouquet. The combination of natural factors that gives Darjeeling tea its unique distinction is not found anywhere else in the world, hence this finest and most delicately flavored of all teas has over the years acquired the reputation of being the “Champagne of Teas.”
These high quality teas are full bodied, yet delicately flavored. Yields are very low for Darjeeling teas, since planters do not give up quality for quantity. They work had to maintain consistency year after year.
March-May – First flush As soon as the weather is good, beginning from March up to the end of the vegetation break, the first soft leaves and leaf buds of the first period will be plucked. The characteristics of a good first flush Darjeeling are lively freshness, a delightful flowery aroma- sometimes with a hint of nutmeg and a bright yellow to honey color of the infusion.
May-June-In-between The qualified trailer of the first flush season does have a peculiar connection with the first touches of the second flush period. The leaves and the infusion are already turning darker and its diversity of flavors varies from full-bodied to slightly aromatic.
June-July- Second flush The summer crop is the summit of the crop year. The tea shrubs develop more strength and aroma through the strong and longer isolation. The most important quality features of a classic second flush tea are a dark brown to black leaf with golden tips and the color of this tea turns amber with an aromatic flavor. It possesses a distinctive nutmeg not among top qualities.
October-November- Autumnal After another period of rain in late summer until the vegetation lull in November, again fully aromatic but somewhat milder teas grow.
These teas are grown in five different growing districts in Sri Lanka. The high grown district districts are Dimbula, Nuwara Eliya, and Uva. Teas grown in these areas of 4000 above sea level tend to be light and flavory. Kandy is the medium growing district of 2000-4000 feet and produces teas with a malty fullness and floral notes. The low growing district of Ruhunu is less than 2000 feet. Teas grown in this area are full bodied with lots of flavor.
India’s neighboring state in Central Himalaya has gained more and more importance during the last years and offers today a good alternative to the productions from Darjeeling.
India / Sikkim
Formerly an independent kingdom northeast of Darjeeling with altitudes of up to 26,000 feet, Sikkim has both subtropical and arctic climate zones. The small amount of tea yielded reminds of Darjeeling with an even softer cup.
Has been a staple in China and Taiwan for more than 2000 years. The empire of the Mid is generally considered as the mother country of tea. The province Yunnan was classified as the birth place of tea within the former empire. In Chinese society there are historical, legendary and religious connotations associated with tea. The best known China black tea is Keemun with its rich aroma and complex taste.
The many mountain provinces of Central and South China are the origin of countless Green and black teas, e.g. Chun Mee, Gunpowder, Jasmine, Keemun, Lapsang Souchong, Lichee, Rose Congou and Yunnan. The province Zhejiang is the southeast of the country, famous for its Gunpowder, Temple of Heaven, and the province Fujian, located south-west of Zhejiang belong to the classical and most important tea growing regions. Fujian is known as the country of the traditional Chinese Jasmine tea culture.
A specific characteristic of the Chinese teas is that they are not sold under garden names like in Darjeeling or Assam. They are often given creative, flowery names which describe the special appearance or the original growing place: Chun Mee is designated as valuable brow, Lung Ching means kite well and so forth.
This island is home to the world-famous Oolong teas and of some interesting green teas. Various growing qualities are predominantly being exported to China, Japan and the USA; some do of course reach Europe.
The term Formosa comes from the Portuguese and means wonderful Island. Since 1885 the name Taiwan has become more famous and is today the official name of this island.
Also in case of the Sri Lanka/Ceylon, the name Formosa kept its importance in the world of teas. Even though the first tea plants were grown in Formosa only in 1659, an impressive tea culture has developed ever since which was succeeded by many emigrated tea experts during the Cultural Revolution.
Japan is one of the few tea producing countries which is forced to import tea due to ever growing domestic demand. On the main island Hunshu, as also on the smaller islands of Shikoku and Kyushue, almost all plantations traditionally grow green tea; these teas vary widely but all of them present a fresh, clear character. The main harvesting period is between April and September. The very few, select export qualities are therefore very popular.
Japan owns after China the oldest tea culture of the world. In the 6th till the 9th century, Buddhist monks are said to have brought tea from China onto the islands. Only in the 16th century, this kind of drink was made available to the people as prior to that tea was only reserved for the imperial court. Japan started to export its teas only in mid of the 18th century.
In Japan, the tea is not being fermented. Right after the arrival in the tea factory, the leaf gets steamed in order to deactivate the leaf cyme and to fix the green color. According to the quality, the leaves get rolled afterwards which is done either manually or by machine. In contrast to Japan, Chinese tea gardens do not use steam in their traditional green tea production. The deactivation of the enzymes which are responsible for the fermentation process, is reached by a short roasting (pan fired tea).
In Korea green tea was already enjoyed 2000 years ago. Originally imported by Chinese Buddhist monks it was part of special temple ceremonies as the ascending marvelous scent was considered to please the gods. Today tea is served in five different tastes: sweet, sour, tart, bitter and salty.
Rooibos – the message from Africa.
The African all-rounder offers unexpected advantages. Both Rooibos and Honeybush are free of caffeine and tannic acid. For this reason the preparation is very easy. Too much tea or longer brewing times do not have such large effects and the infusion remains perfectly enjoyable.
Rooibos tea can be excellently improved with most different decorations. For instance, blue mallow or sunflower blossoms are excellently set off against the thin, rust-brown needle-like leaf.
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