It wasn’t until I started growing my own food that I truly started to understand the relationship between weather and the success of our efforts. While working on a farm, I woke up every morning with one thought in mind – “What’s the weather going to do today?” Now during these first few weeks of the tea harvest season, I find myself pondering the same question – “What does today have in store for our farmer friends in our beloved tea-growing regions?”
As a lover of loose-leaf tea, I now understand the connection from crop to cup. I think about all of the factors that affect the oolong I drink right now – the specific varietal chosen for its own unique attributes, the rich soil feeding the roots that nourish the plant, the water quenching its thirst, the morning dew misting the young tender leaves, the afternoon sun helping sprout new growth, and the doting attention of each farmer caring for his/her crop.
The careful attention given by each farmer is crucial during these last couple of weeks of the beloved first harvest or “flush.” Every year we wait with empty teapots for those sweet and tender fleshy buds. This year’s forecast is proving to be a challenging one and will put the farmer’s skills to the test.
Weather reports have been erratic at best. Droughts in southwestern China, cold fronts and cold rains in Japan and Taiwan, and no rain in India are making many very nervous about the yield and quality of the first flush. I find myself coming to nature’s (and tea’s) defense by repeating my mantra, “Tea is an agricultural product at the mercy of nature…”
It’s a hard mantra to swallow when you have been used to visiting your favorite online retailer, adding your favorite spring tea to your cart, checking out, receiving the delivery, admiring the dry leaf, making your tea, and enjoying the fresh taste of spring. This is yet another connection we must make to nature. It can be a challenging bond that brings forth the reality of our dependence on Mother Nature and her bounty.
Have you tasted Mother Nature’s chi in your cup today?