Caleb here. All puns aside, crafting a kilogram of tea by hand is quite a job. I’ve built a deeper appreciation for generations of tea garden masters who hand-make their tea. As I type, my forearms are shaking from fatigue. It’s a lot of fresh leaf to work through.
During this process, I learned two more things about tea craft. First, the tannins in tea will darken your hands. I suppose I already knew this somewhat, but when you work with smaller 4oz batches it doesn’t really happen much. Work with a kilogram and you notice things.
Second thing I learned, a new rolling technique. Lately, I’ve tried to copy the movement that rolling machines use when manufacturing tea. I do this by holding a good amount of leaves in my left hand, while pressing down pretty firmly with my right hand. Then while my right hand is flat and pressing against the leaves, I rotate the hand back and forth. This balls up the leaves very tightly, and I can feel them rubbing & twisting against each other while this happens. It’s an effective technique.
I’ll wrap up this rambling entry by telling you what I’m making & why. I’m crafting a large batch of black tea (which is now in its “fermentation” stage). This tea will be steeped and given out as samples at the upcoming SBN’s Local Craft Brewfest on Saturday, October 12th at the Moakley Courthouse here in Boston. If you’re in the area, buy a ticket, pop by and say hi! I love doing these beerfests. It throws people off to see a tea company, and it’s a great way to meet other food crafters from the area.
Until next time, continuing the Teawright’s Journey!