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Persistence rewarded

March 21, 2012

The tea leaves that the beloved harvested for me a couple of weeks ago have completed their metamorphosis, and the result is quite a surprise. The green shoots from our camellia sinensis – which has some lovely white flowers at the moment – were picked, stripped from their stalks and then allowed to wilt for 2 days according to the instructions I had found. The next step was to crush or bruise them.

All the literature on tea crushing refers to rollers – usually metal and on an industrial scale. The beloved suggested we use a mangle – where he thought I was going to find a mangle is anyone’s guess – the museum maybe? I doubt they’d be keen.  I  started crushing the leaves with my hands, but it wasn’t too successful so I resorted to a pestle and mortar. This did at least grind the leaves into small pieces and they began to smell a bit like Henna hair dye, but it was quite hard work. “Yuk” said Poppy when I asked if she’d like to have a go (I believe it is important that we give our children opportunities to experience new things) “The smell of Henna makes me feel sick”. The beloved had a go though. The leaves were supposed to go red, but they stayed quite green.

The next stage was to oxidise the leaves – and this time they did change colour a bit. They began to look rusty. Makes a kind of sense I suppose. The final stage after a couple of days oxidisation is to dry the leaves in an oven. The temperature I’d been given was 250c for 20 minutes but this is really hot and the leaves would have burned to a powder, so I put them in a cool oven for a few minutes.

Arlo came in the room as they came out. “Can I smell Popcorn?” he said. Not a good sign.

However, the tea came out looking like tea. I warmed a pretty tea pot and found a really beautiful cup and saucer that my sister gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago, then poured the freshly boiled water on to the tea leaves and let them steep for a few minutes.  I poured the tea into the cup, and tasted it.

It was tea! Looked like tea, tasted like tea – China rather than Indian I think, but tea nevertheless. I feel it’s quite an achievement.

The beloved is delighted. There’s an entire tree outside full of leaves….

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