The season of new tea begins with the first warmth of summer. Tea farmers are busy harvesting their fields but one can also find Camellia sinensis, the small tree whose leaves become tea, growing in the wild. The bud and first leaves on a tender stem are easily plucked. Picking by hand ensures that only the newest tea leaves are harvested and preserves their lovely shape.
Tea leaves plucked gently by hand yield a mellow, smooth flavor and the freshest expression of new tea can be enjoyed just moments after harvest. Swirled around a clay pot over an open flame the leaves are gently rolled between the palms to release their natural juices. A soft touch maintains their beauty. Brewed with water collected from a cascade high in the mountains, the tea leaves relax and unfurl back into their leafy physique.
The day’s harvest is laid out in baskets to wither in the fresh air. It will be become white tea, a minimally processed tea full of fragrance with a honeyed hue and a delicate, sweet taste. When sipped in summer, white tea releases heat trapped in the body and can refresh a spirit grown weary from feverish temperatures.