Tea: What Makes A High Quality White Licorice Tea Garden?
Flavored white teas are becoming increasingly popular. White tea is fairly new to the Western world, but is becoming more popular each year. White tea is the mildest of all teas, so it is a natural choice as a base for flavored tea, since the additional flavorings really shine in white tea. One of the most popular flavored white teas is white licorice tea. White licorice tea is a flavorful blend of licorice and the best white tea. White licorice tea is also extremely healthy.
Because of the way that itís processed, white tea has more anti-oxidants than black tea, making it effective at preventing many serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. These healthy benefits are another reason that flavored and unflavored white teas are becoming so popular. If youíre new to tea drinking, it may be difficult to understand how one tea differs from another in terms of quality. The beginning of a good tea starts with a good tea garden that is tended by a skilled tea artisan. Proper care of the garden along with careful tea plucking and harvesting creates the best tea.
For white licorice tea, itís also important that the best quality star anise be used to flavor the tea and that the tea artisan is skilled in infusing the tea with the licorice appropriately. White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, just like other teas. However, harvesting and processing white tea is quite different than harvesting and processing other teas. White tea is harvested much earlier than other teas, before the leaves are fully open and while the buds are covered with fine white hair, which is why itís called white tea. In addition, white tea leaves are not fermented like black tea. This lack of fermentation ensures that the tea is sweet and mild and contains all of its natural anti-oxidants. The best white tea gardens pluck the tea by hand, selecting only the completely unopened and undamaged buds, and, in some cases, the top two leaves of the plant. The harvester ensures that the buds and leaves are not damaged during plucking. The best white tea buds are harvested only in March and April and only when the weather is just right. There must be no rain on the day of harvest.
There should have been no frost on the previous night, and the morningís dew must be dry. Itís critical that the tea garden pay careful attention to these environmental factors when harvesting the tea. Next, the white tea leaves are dried and steamed. The best tea gardeners know exactly how long to steam the leaves to ensure the best flavor. Finally, for white licorice tea, the tea must be mixed with star anise to give the licorice flavor. The best tea gardens use only whole pieces of star anise in the tea, and they know exactly the right combination of tea leaves and star anise to get the perfect flavor. Once the tea is processed, it must be stored and packed for selling. This is the end of the process for this yearís white licorice tea harvest, but itís not the end of maintaining a good tea garden. Throughout the year, the tea gardener has work to do to ensure his tea garden is maintained properly so that he can produce fine tea each and every year. During the summer, the tea garden must be constantly weeded.
In addition, if the tea garden produces black and green tea as well as white (as most of them do) there will be tea to harvest throughout the summer. Most black and green tea plants are harvested three or four times each growing season. Tea plants do their most vigorous growing during the autumn. So, it is during this time of year that the tea gardener will fertilize the tea plants and plant any new plants for the year. By October, the tea plants will need to be pruned in preparation for winter. During the winter, the tea gardener will pay close attention to any tea plants in his garden that are less than four years old. Depending upon the severity of the winter, they may need protection from the cold during the winter months. In late February or early March, the tea plants must be pruned in preparation for the spring. Then, the entire tea harvesting cycle begins all over again. As you can see, tea gardens require constant work and attention.
Only the tea gardeners who work diligently to harvest and process the tea appropriately and who maintain their gardens throughout the year will be able to produce the very best tea. Tea gardening requires a great deal of skill, patience and attention to detail. Most tea gardeners learned the skill from their parents, and may be tending a tea garden that has been in their family for generations. A lot goes into making that delicious cup of white licorice tea. As you sip, savoring the flavor and aroma that makes white licorice tea so special and distinct, remember that labor and love that went into producing this cup of pleasure.
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