Blog 108: Why Do Weather and Time of Day Matter in Spring Harvest?
In our previous blogs, we’ve thoroughly introduced our spring oolong harvest. Tea harvest is not a year-round event. In just a month, we need to finalize all harvest-related works.
Harvesting tons of fresh leaves in days is not an easy job. Our tea makers and tea workers tirelessly work around the clock to ensure the best harvest quality.
When we say that “we work all day in the spring harvest”, some tea lovers mistakenly think that we somehow harvest fresh leaves all day long. Actually, the tea-making activity in the spring harvest is an all-day activity, but it includes more than just harvesting (e.g. the withering process).
In fact, harvesting fresh leaves is limited to a certain time of day, and it’s also subject to various weather conditions.
Overall, there are 3 weather conditions during the spring tea season: sunny, cloudy, and rainy. Among all, we harvest in sunny and cloudy days (sunny weather offers the best quality fresh leaves). Unless the rain is minimal, we generally do not harvest in rainy days.
Excessive water content in fresh leaves is a big enemy in harvesting, and it should be avoided at all cost. Too much water in fresh leaves complicates the withering process and degrades tea leaves’ aroma.
In the real world, rain is not the only water source. Naturally, there are many other situations make the harvest more difficult or impossible.
Interestingly, morning dew is the most problematic of all. As a matter of fact, fresh leaves covered in morning dew have the lowest harvest quality. Unlike rain drops, morning dew is water in the form of tiny droplets that appears on fresh leaves. The smaller droplets do not disappear until the sun comes out.
Because of morning dew, the water content in early-morning fresh leaves is greatly increased. The extra water content dilutes nutrients in leaves; therefore, it reduces the overall quality of tea.
A common harvest day has about 7 hours of harvesting. In practice, tea makers typically start the harvest after 10am and ends before 5pm.
The late start allows the excessive water to evaporate. In a sunny day, tea leaves can control the amount and the rate of water loss by secreting volatile oil. The volatile oil (or essential oil) degrades water and reduces evaporation.
When fresh leaves are harvested, they need to be quickly withered and processed. Any delays from the tea field to the facility will cause unrecoverable loss. Because sun-withering is the best, tea makers generally ends the harvest while there’s still enough sunlight to wither the last basket of fresh leaves.
The harvest is the first and one of the most important tea-making steps. A high-quality harvest is the cornerstone of a successful tea product. A good harvest is more than just taking fresh leaves off tea plants. It involves many variables that only experienced tea makers can manage. We hope this blog can offer you some insights into how a premium oolong product is harvested.
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