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Difference in Growing Tea Around The World

One of the most well loved beverages, tea, has spawned so many different varieties that it is impossible to keep a tab on the different methods of production and brewing. A simple leaf of a wild bush is today consumed in so many parts of the world in so many different ways. Not only that, the way in which tea is cultivated also varies depending on the region. What is even more mind-boggling is that even in a region, the methods of growing tea have kept evolving over time.

Taking a simple example, tea growing in China has evolved over the years depending on the way it is consumed by the people. In ancient China, when tea was mainly used as offerings, the tea bush used to grow in the wild and the leaves could be plucked at anytime of the day. During the Tang Dynasty, emphasis was not laid on cultivation or plucking of tea leaves, but on the process of oxidation after the plucking had taken place. All the tea leaves were compressed into cakes.

In the Song Dynasty again, tea was carefully cultivated in gardens in such a manner so that no water accumulation would take place near the roots and the air would be neither too dry nor too moisture laden. The entire process was very time consuming and labor intensive. Care was taken too pluck only the young leaves and buds which were covered with silvery white hairs. These would then be steamed and ground into a fine powder. This was the time when white tea evolved.

Moving along, the procedure again changed in the Ming Dynasty. Here loose leaf teas were the norm. Hence tea growing was different as well. Now, the leaves which were too fine or too green were avoided. Thick and round greenish leaves were plucked. Tea was grown on the mountains at a height of seven to eight hundred meters. A method unique to this period was the growing of tea near bat caves, as the bats provided the fertilizer for the soil. The method of growing tea on mountains at the height of seven to eight hundred meters has since been followed for growing tea in China.

Tea growing in India was again different from what it was in China. It was introduced by the British in the nineteenth century. Though the tea bush was native to Assam, it was never really cultivated till the British started it. Tea is grown in India mainly in the regions of Assam and Darjeeling, which neighbor each other, but the cultivation is vastly different. While in Assam tea is grown on the lowlands, in Darjeeling tea is grown in the highlands at the foothills of the Himalayas. In Assam today, most tea is still planted by seed in an unselected manner according to the nineteenth century practice. Again, what is unique to this part of the world is that a lot of the high quality tea is not produced in large farms, but small farms.

Darjeeling tea on the other hand is grown from tea bush brought in from China and Assam, as the tea bush is not native to this part of India. The seeds are carefully mixed and planted. Darjeeling tea is harvested in three flushes, the first in March after the spring rains. These fetch the highest prices and have the most delicate flavor. The second flush in June is slightly astringent in taste. The final flush in August fetches the least price and is said to be less aromatic.

Depending on the region, the climate and the preferences of the people, tea can be grown in many different ways. Each will have its own unique flavor and taste, some which may not be liked by all and some well loved all over the world. Yet, each has its own market and followers, but small. Since tea is grown mainly in India and China, the look at tea growing these parts of the world should give a excellent thought of how tea cultivation may differ across the world.

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