Our British father was a tea-drinker, so as young girls we wanted to follow suit. My first few cups were mostly milk and sugar, but I grew to love the brew and look forward to a cup daily. When I traveled to Hawaii years ago, my friend Paige teased that I was the only one she knew that wanted to drink hot tea in the tropics. It grows on you!
The tea-plant is an evergreen tree which grows in tropical or sub-tropical regions. A high level of humidity, lots of sunshine and plenty of rain make the ideal planting conditions. It grows easily at altitude (Darjeeling teas are grown in the Himalayan mountains). Tea plants are cultivated in tea-gardens which often give their names to certain growths of tea.
In the wild, the tea plant can reach 10 – 15 meters tall, but to make it easier to harvest its leaves, it is pruned to a height of about 1.10 meters from the ground. It has a lifespan of around forty years.
The tea leaves are plucked three times a year and each harvest period imparts a distinctive flavour to the tea. In the Himalayas, the first harvest takes place from mid-March to mid-April and produces teas with a mild, vegetal taste (this is the “First Flush”) and rare and aromatic qualities.
The second or middle harvest takes place between mid-April and mid-May and produces teas with a more fruity and perfumed flavour.
The last period for tea-picking is between mid-May and mid-July, for the stronger and less delicate growths. Source: Kusmi Tea
When I worked in the costume shop at San Jose State, we used tea as a light stain on white shirts. True white is blinding on stage when hit with hot lights. The tea took the edge off the brightness. I’m employing this same technique to age a few pieces for my sister’s Halloween costume. She’s dressing up as the animated character Corpse Bride from the Tim Burton movie. We’ve pulled together pieces from thrift shops and items on hand along with a floral head wreath and bouquet from my garden.
Mom-isms: Tea Fixes Everything
Growing up, our Mom’s solution for most things was the pragmatic, “Have an aspirin and a cup of tea and you’ll feel better.” That still makes me smile. Mom died in 2008 but today is our shared birthday. Mom hated a fuss, so in her honor a simple “happy birthday!” is what made her happy.