On last day of 2018, we’d like to thank you for your continued interest in this tea blog. We started this blog earlier this year and have published over 80 tea blogs ever since. We’ll continue updating our tea blog in 2019. Here, we wish you a wonderful holiday and happy new year!
Also on last day of 2018, we had a bit of snow in the mountains.
Despite the winter coldness is not a stranger to us, snow is not something we don’t get all the time. Situated in South China, many people would think Wuyi mountains don’t have cold weathers. Well, in general, the temperature in Wuyi Mountains are significantly higher than northern cities such as Beijing, Berlin or New York. However, the high elevation can give us quite a few cold days.
This year, we’ve been seeing some frosts and snows. Frosty and snowy days are gorgeous in a seemingly bizarre way. All tea leaves and tea flowers would be covered in frost or snow. In some rare cases, they’d even be frozen in ice.
In northern regions, plants do not fear cold weathers before most of them are deciduous. That means plants lose leaves before temperature gets really low. But tea plants, growing in the south, are different. In fact, tea plants blossom in winter.
Therefore, some tea lovers wonder that whether cold winter weather affects the health of tea plants and the quality of tea leaves.
The answer is NO. Not only doesn’t cold weather harm tea plants, but also it is beneficial.
First of all, tea plants have various levels of low-temperature tolerance. Generally speaking, tea plants that are shrubs with small to medium leaves have a higher low-temperature tolerance. Tea plants that are trees, such as Shui Xian plant, have a lower tolerance.
In Wuyi mountains region, the minimum temperature for a typical tea plant is between -16℃/3.2℉ to -12℃/10.4℉, which is a range way below the coldest temperature in the region.
The low-temperature tolerance is also associated with the health of tea plants. As we can imagine, a tea plant that’s harvested less grows stronger. In the Wuyi mountains, tea plants are only harvested once a year. This allows tea plants grow stronger leaves. If we look closely, Wuyi tea leaves are thick and darker. All leaf veins are visibly clear and extend farther. Nutrients can better reach the end of the leaf. Thus, tea leaves can better withstand the coldness.
Low-temperature weather further helps tea plants by slowing down the growth of tea leaves. Just as reading a book too fast, you might miss some important plots. In a constant hot/warm environment, tea leaves grow too fast to accumulate enough nutrients.
In cold winter, the level of amino acids and nitrogen compounds increases considerably. The accumulation of fragrance substances (please see our Blog 75 for details) also improves in a moderate low temperature.
These increases in nutrients ultimately result in a more flavorful and aromatic tea leaves.
Of course, tea plants are not completely immune to low temperatures.
Early spring is a particular vulnerable time for tea plants. Many tea plant tissues in winter are in a dormant state. Tea plants would have a elevated level of cell sap. It protects the plant in winter.
In early spring, tea leaves start to sprout. Newly sprouted leaves have a higher water content and a more energetic enzymatic activity. A sudden drop in temperature can lead to a drastic reaction that might kill baby leaves.
In fact, one of our own tea fields was hit by a sudden frost in March this year. All new leaves that sprouted in spring perished. We had to no choice but to claim that particular tea field a loss since tea plants on that field would certainly miss the spring harvest.
In conclusion, low temperature in winter really can’t harm our precious tea plants. On the contrary, it helps tea plants quite a bit.
So, rest assured and enjoy a warm cup of tea in this cold winter!
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