For many people Spring means crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and irises bursting up from their bulbs, trees with the sap flowing and the branches blossoming, birds singing for a mate, and all the other signs of reawakening. And for us tea lovers it also means fresh Spring (1st Flush) teas, generally lighter in flavor, as well as other teas served at outdoor tea parties (after months of being indoors away from snow and ice and cold).
The Vernal Equinox (when the hours of sunlight and darkness are equal) heralds the first day of Spring and gives us all a great reason to enjoy some great tea! Losing an hour of precious tea drinking time by setting your clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time is a pretty raw deal, but the naturally occurring (despite what the clock says) longer hours of daylight makes up for it (at least a little bit). It also signals the start (unofficially) of drinking your tea iced/chilled, should you be so inclined. In the Southeastern part of the U.S., “sweet tea” is not just a beverage, it’s an obsession, with every fast food joint, chain restaurant, and even the local hot dog stand touting theirs as “the best.”
The Seasons of Tea
Teas are harvested in “seasons.” Some teas are labeled by when they are harvested. The seasons and their labels are:
- Spring (First) Flush: First harvest season of the year, and often the most delicate and tasty tea leaves, since the plant has awakened from its Winter slumber.
- Summer (Second) Flush: A bit tougher as the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) responds to the trauma of have its tender shoots plucked off by summoning more of its plant energy to grow new leaves and buds. All this effort on the part of the photosynthesis process can result in complex flavors and a relatively long shelf life.
- Monsoon Flush: Those heavy rains spur rapid growth. The tea leaves are more flavorful than the First Flush teas, but not quite as many flavors as the Second Flush teas. The plant doesn’t have time for these to develop.
- Autumn Flush: These are supposed to be the best. Frustrated tea plants keep trying to grow only to have their new growth taken away for our consumption. They give it one more shot by putting in a Herculean effort here that results in the best tea leaves that smell great, have a wonderful flavor, and last on the shelf the longest.
Setting Up Your Spring Tea Time
Pretty easy. Click on each photo for details:
Now for the Teas
Not too early in the growing season to see some great teas come on the market. Click on each photo for details:
Take advantage of those extra hours of daylight as we head from the equinox to the Summer solstice, when the trend will have peaked and we will start back toward shorter daylight. Plan some picnics, walks in the park, hikes in the mountains, etc., and bring along the tea!
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Hi, humans, this site is under my editorial excellence. I, your lovable and sassy Little Yellow Teapot, authors articles on tea, etc., and edit the occasional guest article. All in the interest of helping you humans have a better tea experience. TOOOT!