En Jie's Blog

Various aspects of teas being seasonal

When talk about seasonal tea, people immediately associate it with the teas harvested during the last harvest season.

Seasonal production of the teas

In China, the Qing-Ming ( 清明) season which is normally around the early April is the main season for tea harvesting. The pre-Qing-Ming teas are of higher value as the tea leaves grow in colder weather conditions, taking longer to grow, storing more nutrients with richer flavour. The harvest season can last through May. The later the leaves are harvested, the warmer the weather conditions are and the faster the leaves grow. The teas made of the later leaves are however not as rich and delicate in flavour as the early flushes. Apart from the spring harvest (Qing-Ming harvest), many tea farms also harvest a crop in Autumn. The teas made of the autumn leaves are often not as delicate and refreshing, but may suite certain tea production, such as scented teas, or Oolong teas made of mature leaves.

Seasonal consumption of the teas

There is also another aspect of teas being seasonal that is not talked about as much, which is its consumption. Tea consumption in China is very geographical. The art and history of tea making is finely turned to suite the local diets and climate conditions. The non-fermented green teas and lightly fermented white teas are light and refreshing, much favoured in areas where the weather conditions are warm and humid. The more fermented teas such as black and ripened pu-erh teas on the other hand, are more appreciated in cooler areas where heavier diets are consumed. The fermented teas are smoother in texture and known to aid digestion.

If you however have the luxury to have a collection of teas (like we all do these days), soon you will find that different teas have different best uses: summer teas vs winter teas, morning tea vs afternoon teas, teas to drink after meals vs teas drink between meals, teas to drink with snacks vs teas to drink on their own and many more combinations and occasions.

One thing to remember, teas are to be enjoyed and premium teas are highly enjoyable.

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Optimal tea accessories for pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea has recently gained some rather favourable attention among tea lovers due to the reputation of weight reduction and many other health benefits.

Standing as a class of its own among the premium teas, pu-erh tea has many unique natures including its preparation.

Unique natures of Pu-erh tea:

  1. Pu-erh teas are made of tea tree leaves (big) instead of tea bush leaves (small)
  2. the more a Pu-erh tea is aged, the better its quality. As a result, most of the Pu-erh teas would have been stored for at least a couple years and often require a sensible ‘brew’, in comparison to teas made of young and tender leaves and consumed seasonally, such as green teas and white teas.
  3. Pu-erh teas are much longer lasting – some leaves can still produce quality flavour after 20 infusions, while the teas made of young tip eaves can only be used for up to 4 times normally.

Brewing Pu-erh tea:

Chinese tea setPu-erh tea is one of my favourite teas, a right type can have green tea’s refreshing nature, Oolong or black teas’ mellow texture, and Taiwan High mountain Oolong commending refreshing aftertaste. A careful selection of the tea accessories to use would in no doubt enhance the quality of Pu-erh tea brew.

Home brewing Pu-erh tea

A premium YiXing ZiSha tea set is a good choice. YiXing ZiSha teapots are traditionally made small (See YiXing ZiSha teapot for more info). They therefore require frequent top up of hot water and serving – producing many small infusions of freshly brewed and served tea which is the best quality tea.

  1. For single person consumption: use a small ZiSha teapot to make up 5-10 infusions of tea and serve into a cup or mug
  2. To sever a number of drinkers, use as many kung-fu tea cups as the number of people at presence, brew and sever accordingly. For example, there are four members in our family. I use a tea set as shown in the image after dinner. A pot of hot water and a serve of Pu-erh leaves is all is required for a few good cups and a chat after dinner.

Brewing pu-erh tea at office

tea infuserWhen the space is limited and time is tight in the office to get some work done, a tea infuser like this one is ideal:

  1. It is a pot, cup and strainer all built into one.
  2. The brewing chamber is where the tea is brewed.
  3. Once the tea is brewed to the optimal time, a value is released by pressing a side button and the tea is filtered through a very fine filter to the lower chamber.
  4. The lower chamber then can be used as a cup to drink from, while using the up facing lid as a saucer to sit the brewing chamber on.
  5. This process can be repeated many times by topping up with hot water.

 More information on Pu-erh tea preparation and storage guide: https://www.valleygreentea.com.au/preparation/pu-erh-tea-preparation-and-storage-guide.html

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Winter tea

buy chinese pu-erh teaNot all teas are equal. Some teas are more suitable for summer time and the others provide warm comfort for cold winter days.

Fermentation plays a big part in the tea processing. If we can look at the tea range as a spectrum, the two ends are:

  • Green teas: unfermented, light and refreshing
  • Black teas: fully fermented, dark in colour, smooth in texture and known to aid in digestion

With this in mind, it is not hard to imagine that the fermented teas are more suitable for colder weather and the green teas are ideal for summer time.

Coffee vs tea

I have recently given up on coffee drinking. I never used to drink coffee when I was growing up in China and only took it up after I arrived in Australia and married to a coffee drinker.

After drinking my regular cup of coffee in the morning for more than 10 years, I found myself in a situation where it did not do much for me anymore in terms of kick-starting the morning. If I however missed one, I would be left with a severe headache until I had my next ‘fit’.

I used an opportunity of visiting China a few months ago to ‘wean’ it off and it wasn’t hard as I was drinking teas throughout the day.

What do I use to replace my morning cup of coffee now?

A cup of black tea or ripened & aged Pu-erh tea, no milk no sugar.

It serves as the morning kick start just as well as a coffee, without any ‘withdraw’ symptoms. Since I only drink loose leaf teas, I top up the cup/pot and sip through the whole morning, warm and comfortable.

After lunch tea

I personally love a cup of Oolong tea (semi-fermented) such as Wu Yi Oolong, or aged raw Pu-erh after lunch in winter time. In comparison to the fully fermented black teas or ripened Pu-erh tea, they have a bit more edge in terms of being refreshing. To have a cup after lunch flushes/naturalizes all the excessive flavours and cholesterols that have been consumed, especially those strong flavoured foods from the take away outlets. They offer a sense of freshness, calm and warmth.

After dinner

My flavour after dinner teas are Taiwan high mountain Oolong or mature raw Pu-erh tea. Incorrect in theory, dinner is the only main proper home prepared meal in our family due to school and work commitments. To assist to digest all the ‘high food’ from the dinner plates before bed time, a cup of these teas feels ‘just what I need’ to settle the full stomach, and the day’s activities.

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