Harvesting And Drying Our Homegrown Tea

freshly picked tea leaves

If you follow the blog at all, you remember in the last article, I mentioned that we had started growing our own tea indoors. I know it was a long time ago, but I finally have gotten around to writing an update on what is going on with our indoor tea garden.

If you remember, we basically use the same method for the tea that we were using to grow our herbs indoors. This means the same grow lights at the same strength. We basically didn’t change anything; we just added tea plants to the mix. We figured this would be a good move since tea doesn’t flower.

freshly picked tea leaves

It turns out, though, that tea needs more sunlight than the herbs we had been growing. For that reason, the grow lights we had were not quite strong enough. We’re going to keep trying to grow tea, but I think were going to put it under its own set of grow lights.

Most likely we will get LED grow lights. I’ve been looking at several brands and I think we’re going to go with the Next Light Veg 8. It is a specialized light that is made specifically for plants that veg only. It uses white LED light, which means that you can actually see the plants the way they naturally look in sunlight. If you’re at all familiar with LED grow lights, you’ve probably seen photos of the pinkish glow. That is not something we want. That makes it difficult to monitor your plants.

As for the tea we harvested, even though it took a long time to grow, I think it turned out pretty well. It’s certainly not the best looking tea I’ve ever seen, but it does look pretty good considering it was our first attempt.

The leaves are well-formed and we’ve actually gotten two solid harvests out of our garden. We took an early harvest, where you take the very young leaves. These make the most expensive teas, like the white hair silver needle white tea or the golden needle black tea and a few others.

tea leaves drying on bambooThen we harvested again to make other types of teas. These second harvest leaves are often called second flush and we used them for some different teas.

Now we are in the process of drying and fermenting the leaves. We are going to try to make all kinds of tea. So from the young leaves we’re going to make probably some white tea, some green tea and some black tea. From the older leaves we’re going to make all three of those types plus also some oolong tea.

We really want to experiment and see which type of tea lends itself best to our specific leaves. I’m really excited about this. In a future article, I think we are going to go into more detail on the fermenting and drying process. It really is quite fascinating. I mentioned last time that had been reading up on all of this and I think I’ve learned the different methods of processing leaves. I want to do it the traditional way that the Chinese and the Japanese do, because I love their tea.

So stay tuned for that article, it should be quite interesting. If you have any interest at all in tea, then you’ll definitely want to read it. It might not be our typical indoor growing topic, but I think any indoor grower can find it exciting enough. Am I right?