It's been a long cold winter so far and just a little too chilly for the lovely Ada. Although tea plants grow at some high altitudes, it is below the snow line, so our extreme conditions this year were too much for her to stay outdoors.
To get Ada through the worst of the weather she came indoors and just admired the snow from a draught free spot where she could get the occasional bit of winter sunshine. The move indoors has done her good as she has put out a few more leaves and some new buds are lining up too. The idea of getting 'Dolly' to keep her company is gaining ground as and as things warm up we'll be arranging to get the next plant.
Ada has been out visiting too - she went a little tea tasting demo and was greatly admired. A lot of people didn't realise that tea leaves would be so thick and shiny.
There are actually many varieties of the tea plant. Most people know that tea is from the camellia family,'camellia sinensis'. This isn't just one plant, there are many varieties which have evolved over time and which suit the region and climate they grow in.
Some of the tea plants thrive on cool, south facing mountainsides between 2000 and 3000 metres whilst others grow in more lush and jungle like terrain. The location,climate,soil, time and frequency of plucking,pruning and more all affect how the tea plants grow - in a way not dissimilar to wine growing. So even though tea all come from the tea plant the tea varies - just as wine does. This variation isn't confined to tea coming from different parts of the same region but right across the world.
If you take on board this idea of how tea grows it helps you appreciate that buying tea can be like wine, and as pleasureable,as there are so many teas to try from right across the globe. Also, as with buying wine your favourite tea may alter taste depending on the growing season and harvet - some years are better than others.
At the last tea tasting one lady told us she'd never liked tea and didn't realise tea could taste so nice or that were so many different ones to try. She could just remember thick black stewed tea from her childhood. I have a feeling she'll soon have a cupboard full of teas and have fun experimenting.