Sunday, 12 August 2012

wet leaves and drier leaves

in Hamburg looking through the windows at Messmer Momentum's Darjeeling boxes  

Why are most Monsoon tea flush Darjeelings not normally sold outside of their region? Aren't all flushes worth drinking. I've had something called Autumn Flush from at least one company, and it was tasty enough. Certainly not bad. Anything but bad.

Then while I was talking to Michael J. Coffey and Geoff Norman, we got to talking about wet leaves versus drier leaves. Michael was talking about about Taiwanese tea rather than Indian tea, but he made an interesting point.

Apparently, the wetter the leaf is when it's been picked, the lesser quality the resulting tea will be. Now, I'm not a grower. Clearly. Sitting here in my flat in Germany, anything I say about growing tea is based upon very limited information. I read and I listen to tea people more knowledgeable than I, but I'm passing this onto you the way I heard it. My retelling is hopefully accurate.

I found the next thing Michael said to be the most intriguing. Here's what it was:

'There’s a tension between the farmers and the pluckers.  Pluckers want to work early in the morning, because the dew is still on the leaves and they’re plumper. They’ll be paid more for the same amount of work. Farmers know that higher quality tea results from plucking late in the morning.
 Some farmers will make a compromise, and they’ll do both an early and late morning plucking. Afterwards, they’ll sell the two different batches separately; the late morning one being of lesser quality.'

Michael Coffey said that this was true of Taiwan in general, so this doesn't directly relate to Darjeeling tea. The reason I even mentioned my favourite tea growing region of India, is I've often wondered how the rainy season affects the tea grown at that time.

There you have it. Wet leaves = ok, but not necessarily the best. Waiting until later in the morning to pick the leaves makes the resulting tea even better. Well, that's great because I was hoping to sleep in anyway.

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