The tea plant has a place of honor in many gardens. Since it sometimes requires a lot of care and is not as beautiful as other plants, it is often rarely planted in home gardens. The tea plant is native to parts of China and is now extensively grown in many places. India is a very large producer of tea. Tea growing and leaf processing is different in different parts of the world. This gives each tea its unique flavor and characteristics. Harvesting the tea leaves at the correct time is extremely important when growing tea.
Soil needs to be properly prepared prior to planting new plants. Young plants are also very susceptible to being harmed by drought. After the first year or two, pruning should be done to dispose of long straggling shoots and to limit the height of the plant.
During the third year, a small crop can usually be harvested. Each year after this, the crops gradually get larger until the plant is about eight years old. At this time, the plants should be fully mature and produce good yields.
Much of the tea consumed in England is produced in China and Japan. There are many farms devoted only to the production of high quality tea. One method for handling the tea after it is picked is to cure it. It is spread on shallow trays to dry for two or three hours. Then pans are heated and leaves are thrown on them and shaken rapidly for several minutes to drive out moisture and avoid burning.
The leaves may make a crackling noise as moisture is released. Then everything is poured onto a table where workers take a handful and roll it into a small ball. This helps get rid of moisture and twists the leaves together. Then workers open it back up and repeat the rolling process until they appear finished. Then the leaves are placed in an area with low heat for about an hour to further dry the tea leaves. Once fully dry, they can be sorted and packaged.
The tea is now ready to be brewed to create delicious beverages. Sifting the leaves can remove any dust created during the whole process. This type of tea is known as green tea. Other methods of tea processing produce different kinds of teas. Today people often add other herbs or spices to a tea for added flavor. Some popular flavors are hibiscus tea and ginger tea.
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