Home Grown Green Tea April 26, 2016 09:43 1 Comment
Tea is great. It's the perfect cozy drink on cold rainy mornings, the perfect pick me up in the morning or in an afternoon slump, and cold and refreshing on hot summer days.
What a lot of people don't know is that black, green, white, yellow, and oolong tea are all from the same plant - Camellia sinensis.
All the varieties can be made from the same plant depending on the age of the leaves, if they're wilted, oxidized, bruised, crushed, or fermented.
A basic run down on tea varieties:
Black - top 2 or 3 leaves and a bud, wither in a cool, dry area for up to 20 hours, rolled, dried in a single layer at room temp.
Green - top 2 or 3 leaves and a bud, lightly steamed, rolled, and dried/roasted
White - very young leaf buds (no mature leaves), withered in the sun for 3-4 hours, and oven dried
Since green tea takes the least amount of time and is the least picky about when the leaves are picked, I decided to try that.
First, you'll want to pick fresh leaves. You'll want to pick the youngest two leaves with a third leaf bud in the middle (so really it will be three leaves at a time). Older leaves will be too tough to process and should be left on the plant.
Since my plants are still pretty young (three years old), I wasn't able to harvest much this year.
The next step is to separate them. Don't worry if there are some twigs!
If you have a bamboo steamer, use that. If not, a metal steamer will work just fine.
Steam the leaves for 2-3 minutes and immediately take off the heat.
Carefully peel off the leaves and gently roll in between your index finger and thumb until they stay rolled up.
If you want, you can try to make leaf pearls by rolling the leaves in a circular motion (in theory, it didn't really work for me).
Once all the leaves are rolled there are two options for drying. One is in the oven at 215°F for ten minutes with a quick toss after five minute. The other, which I did, is to roast them in a dry skillet.
I just pushed them around the pan until they were fully dry and put them immediately in a bowl to cool.
Pour boiling water over 4-6 leaves per cup and you'll have a nice, refreshing cup of green tea!
Bonus - if you have a coffee plant, dry and lightly crush the leaves for a tea similar in flavour to green tea