Crafting Fine Tea


Tea Growing - DIY

 

  • Prepare ericaceous compost (or test your soil for acidity, it should be between 4.5 - 5.5 pH) and mix it with sand 50 to 50. Use this mixture to fill polythene sleeves 17cm wide to 20-30cm long (you could use a long pot or cut plastic bottle as long as it has a longer, skinny shape with big holes at the bottom). Water this mixture couple of weeks ahead of planting tea seeds so it will sit. You could plant into big planters (one tea plant next to each other) as well, but the roots of tea plants can tangle and you may have a trouble to separate them after replanting.

               

               

              • Soak your tea seeds in a bucket of 80 C water over night for about 3 days and change water regularly. Discard floating seeds as they are most likely empty (you may try to plant them anyway for we don't like to waste, we like to give a try). Seeds which sunk are healthy and ready to germinate. Other method for awakening the seed is to leave them crack on sun, but as we are growing them in lovely Scotland – choosing this method would be quite silly:)

                       

                      • After submerging your tea seeds for 3 days, they should be ready for sowing. Press your finger tip into the soil, about a 2cm deep and sow the tea seed with the eye in horizontal position. Keep in 80% shade and water well with slightly acidic water (rain water, add a bit of lemon, tea or cider vinegar). Await for 2-3 months for tea to germinate. Watch the temperature of room or green house as it shouldn't drop under 9 C.

                       (On picture: planting tea seeds in Susie's Tea garden - Kinnettles Gold - true Scottish tea)

                       

                      • Water and mist regularly, sing and touch your plant as this always helps :p. Be careful to not over-water your tea as they are very prone to water logging and root diseases.Wait for the tea plant to grow around 4 leaves (30cm tall) and then re-plant it into slightly bigger pot. Use your already prepared mixture of ericaceous soil and sand, but if you can add some pine bark which is acidic and will slowly release it into the soil. When re-potted you can transfer the tea plant into only about 40% shade and fertilise if you want to with NPK (nitrogen, phosphor, potassium).

                       

                       

                       

                      • Grow your tea on South-east side, preferably on slope for natural drainage and protect against strong wind, in Scotland it's the unmerciful South-west wind. Water, mist and care for your plant regularly. Wait for 3 years before replanting into the field – baby tea plants are very fragile to grow and it is very difficult to get into the stage of stable, sturdy tea plant which can withstand the weather, winds, diseases, pests and other complications, but once you get there... you will be rewarded with your own tea! Hang in there ….fellow Tea growers!

                       

                        • You could make your own DIY tea after around 5 years old tea bush.... happy plucking.
                        •  Taking cuttings is as difficult as growing tea from a seed, how do I know? Well, better not to ask. Always take cuttings from older, well established, sturdy and healthy tea plants. Look for the green, vigorous, soft top stem of your plant with healthy leaves, not the hard, woody, brown part of the stem as these are not suitable for taking cuttings. Cut diagonally down right behind the leaf where auxiliary (additional) bud is growing. Leave only the top leaf and discard the other leaves. The stem with one leaf should be around 2.50 cm long. Plant into prepared, wet soil. A mixture of 50 x 50 ericaceous soil and sand. I have also added some of my white willow extract to improve the growth of the roots :)

                               

                               

                               

                              Tea Processing – DIY

                               

                              Make your own tea? Why not?

                               

                              First step would be to have a good healthy, strong and juicy tea plants.

                              If you wish to make green, yellow, white or wulong tea, make sure you have planted more Camellia sinensis plants in your garden rather than Camellia assamica type. Sinensis is more aromatic while assamica is more robust, therefore more suitable for black or Pu Erh teas.

                               

                              So far I have made only green tea and black tea, but will share other DIY tea crafting tips when my tea garden will get a bit older.

                               

                              DIY Green Tea: one of the easiest tea to make

                               

                              1) Green tea is made only from the top fresh new grown shoots (bud and a leaf or a bud and two leaves). Pluck your bud and 2 leaves at morning (I'm presuming you won't be making Imperial tea for your King or Queen at start:) until you'll have abou 200g of fresh tea shoots.

                               

                              2) Pat them dry if they are too wet from morning dew. Spread them on paper and let them wither for tiny bit – an hour or two will be enough. (you could skip this second step if you have your garden located further from your home or a thousand steps up to your home or you are super slow walker:)

                               

                              3) After the withering period, transfer your leaves into the pan and heat them on medium heat, turning them constantly for about 2 min. You will see that your tea leaves became very relaxed and bit spongy. That is the perfect consistence for their next step rolling.

                               

                              4) Rolling or flattening your tea leaves is a great fun, which may reminds you of your childhood with plasticine in your hands. Take all the leaves from your pan and roll them into shapes or flatten them on your work top. Make them all nice and same (if you can).

                               

                              5) Drying. You could dry your tea leaves in pre-heated oven for about 20 min on low temperature around 150C, or you could just pan them until they look crunchy and dry for about 10min on medium temperature fire hob – make sure to turn them constantly.

                               

                               

                               

                              DIY Black Tea: a little bit more complicated tea to make

                               

                              1) Black tea is usually made from more mature tea leaves, but you could still use young buds and leaves. Pluck your tea leaves at morning until you have about 200g of fresh tea shoots, this would give you about 50g of dry tea.

                               

                              2) Pat them dry and wither in room temperature out of sun for about 3 days (Best is to spread them on mash so the air can easily circulate through them). Turn your leaves often, so they wither equally.

                               

                              3) After softening your leaves with wither roll them. Rolling means bruising the structure of the tea leaf cells, releasing enzymes which trigger oxidation. Don't be afraid to press hard.

                               

                              4) Now you have shaped and prepared your leaves for oxidation. Make really hot in your kitchen if you live in Scotland (around 25C is fine) or just close a window if you live under UK. Cover your leaves with a piece of cloth and let them oxidate for about 10 hours. After this period your leaves are ready for drying.

                               

                              5) Drying. You could dry your tea leaves in pre-heated oven for about 20 min on low temperature around 150C, or you could just pan them until they look crunchy and dry for about 10min on medium temperature fire hob – make sure to turn them constantly.

                               

                              6) Store your tea in airtight tin or box once it cools down. Or make a tea for your family, friends or yourself :) ENJOY.