The coming weeks we introduce you to about 25 different natural health teas (without added flavours and other additives). Here the second part of the introduction. All teas at Yum Eat Cafe are served in-fusion.
The three main varieties of the tea plant, China, Assam and Cambodia, each occur in their most distinct form at the extremes of the fan-shaped area. There are an infinite number of hybrids between the varieties, such as crosses can be seen in almost any tea field.
The China variety, a multi-stemmed bush growing as high as 9 feet (2.75 metres), is a hardy plant able to withstand cold winters and has an economic life of at least 100 years. When grown at an altitude near that of Darjeeling and Ceylon, it produces teas with valuable flavour during the season’s second flush or growth of new shoots.
The Assam variety, a single-stem tree ranging from 20 to 60 feet (6 – 18 metres) in height and including several sub-varieties, has an economic life of 40 years with regular pruning and plucking. The tea planter recognizes five main sub-varieties: the tender light-leaved Assam, the less tender dark-leaved Assam, the hardy Manipuri and Burma types, and the very large leaved Lushai. In Upper Assam, the dark-leaved Assam plant, when its leaves are highly pubescent, produces very fine quality “golden tip” teas during its second flush. (The Chinese word pekho, meaning “white hair” or “down””, refers to the “tip” in tea, which is correlated with quality.)
The Cambodia variety, a single-stem tree growing to about 16 feet (5 metres) in height, is not cultivated but has been naturally crossed with other varieties.
The mature leaves of the tea plant, differing in form according to variety , range from 1 – 10 inches (3.8 – 25 cm) in length, the smallest being the China variety and the largest sub-variety. In harvesting, or plucking, the shoot removed usually includes the bud and the two youngest leaves. The weight of 2 000 freshly plucked China bush shoots may be one pound (454 g); the same number of Assam shoots may weigh two pounds (908 g). Tea leaves may be serrated, bullate, or smooth; stiff or flabby; the leaf pose ranges from erect to pendant; and the degree of pubescence varies widely from plant to plant.