As our weather changes over from the warmth of summer to the crispness of autumn, I’ve been thinking about exactly what is the most ideal weather conditions for growing tea.
A study conducted at Zhejiang Agricultural University on famous tea growing areas in China came up with these ecological climactic characteristics:
“…more amounts of clouds and fog, less percentage of sunshine, abundant rainfall and high relative humidity in the air, temperatures that rise and fall slowly, daily and annual temperature ranges that are smaller, more days that are suitable for tea growing and low wind speeds in the lee-sides and valleys of mountains. All of these factors are favorable for growth of tea trees.”
It appears that high humidity, abundant rainfall, and a smaller range of temperature variables that rise and fall slowly are key to producing the best quality tea.
Another reason I was thinking about the weather is that the conditions in the Assam tea growing region in India this year were not ideal. Drought conditions resulted in a smaller crop and tea that has a harsher, much more intense and astringent flavor to it.
My morning tea is a black tea called Meleng estate Assam. The Meleng tea estate, founded by a Mr. J.E. Jood in 1852, takes its name from a river that runs through the garden. Tea is planted on both sides of the river.
I find myself gravitating towards darker teas as the weather gets cooler and the light levels fall. Why is that, I wonder? Darker weather, darker tea?
With the more intense, astringent flavor in mind, I steeped my Assam leaves in 212 degree F (boiling point) water for only 3 minutes instead of my usual 4-5 minutes.
I was delightfully surprised by how much the astringent factor was mellowed out at the shorter steeping time. The flavor was much smoother, revealing a whisper of cocoa. The leaves have a rich, malty aroma and, after steeping, a cooked sugar note wafted up from my teapot.
The deep russet color of the tea blends with the glorious blue sky reflection in my teapot resulting in a dreamy lavender patch.
I love the colors of tea.
I drank the whole pot of tea without a drop of milk. That said, my second pot will be steeped longer and enjoyed with milk.
Ah, the variations and joys of tea experimentation…
Only the heart knows how to find what is precious.