We have picked over the farm to gather in the tea’s first growth. I have picked it very early this year and picked it most every day in April. I have made yellow, green and black teas from these batches. I hand rubbed lots of it as just a few minutes in the tea roller will turn it into green mush. We have put up about 45 pounds and again started picking yesterday and well as again today. My goal, which is not really a high hurtle, is to finish 300 pounds. My plants produce twice that where the excess goes to waste. I made a hair under 200 pounds last year because Covid was so popular that I thought that was all I would need as tourism was going slowly. We barely had enough tea to fill our packages that we sell to tourist, and certainly not enough for the bulk orders that I had to turn down.
This photo is of my wife Lottie, known here as “The Tea Fairy,” pan frying just picked green leaves to keep them green. First, after picking just a little, I bring it in the air-conditioning to stop the anaerobic bacterial action. This saves the sugars and starches in the leaf. I have even fanned it to get it cool. This an important step that most tea makers who are mimicking commercial processing do not do. Then it goes right into the fry pan to inactivate the phenyl esterase which the plant releases to produces liner hydrocarbons to stimulate the production of roots. This is a oxidation reduction chemical process which is the blacking (killing of the green) of the tea. We stop these two reactions for green tea but facilitate them for black tea.
Our tea farm tours are going strong now. We do these every day at 1:00 and 3:00. It actually keeps us from getting to other farm chores (and picking) but we sure meet some nice people who come to see us making tea. The guests leave just wild eyed at what a nice and informative tour they received. They are surprised that it is more forestry than gardening. We get many knowledgeable tea professionals and distributors who are most impressed with our operation.
Remember, we can not accept plastic or bitcoins. Bring cash or check to cover the $10 per person charge and some extra cash to buy some tea. Right now, our individual cup size tea bags are out selling our loose leaf bags. We are a farm. It is clean and pretty here but we do have loose peacocks, DOGS and chickens. There is also the possibility of mosquitoes, spiders and yellow flies. You may get some chicken poop on your shoes but its not likely. If we have three or less visitors we ride around the tea rows in the golf cart which is a much better tour. We do not receive large groups or have birthday parties. The tours last an hour so allow your self time and not be hurried.
You all hurry down to see us!