<There are a lot of different categorizations for tea, many of which might not be familiar to those who are not tea connoisseurs. We want to help our customers gain a better understanding of teas, not just from Myanmar but from around the world. This week, we’ll be discussing what tea flushes are, and how they affect the quality of a tea.
What is a tea flush?
It has nothing to do with a detox program! Instead, it tells you when the leaves were picked. All teas come from the same plant, but the flavor of the tea will vary greatly depending on many factors. Leaves from the tea plant are generally harvested at four different times per year. These harvests are called flushes. Tea lovers prefer different flushes depending on tea type, with earlier flushes generally considered to be of higher quality overall.
One of the offerings that we have here at Shan Valley Teas is our Shan First Flush Green Tea. As the name suggests, this is tea that is picked at the beginning of the season from late February to early April, depending on growing region. It’s sometimes also called the Easter flush for this reason.
These teas have a strong fresh flavor that is brisk but mild. It is this brisk and mild taste that makes first flush teas highly sought after. In fact, first flush teas are some of the most desired teas of all. Some companies go as far as to work with tea plantations that will guarantee they get the very first pick of the season. These so-called First Invoice or First Pick teas can command very high prices.
It doesn’t take very long for the fresh flavor of these early teas to begin to change, so if you can get your hands on a first flush tea, we recommend giving it a try to see the difference.
The next round of harvests happens in May. Spring is now in full swing, and the taste of the tea becomes more complete. Second flush tea is not as delicate as first flush, but it is still lighter than later harvests. If first flush tea is too delicate for your palate, try a second flush tea. Second flush tea is very popular in Japan, and growing in popularity in America.
Summer flush happens during the monsoon season in Asia, which dramatically changes the quality of the tea. The tea becomes even stronger in flavor, changing with all the additional water. It is definitely of a lower quality than first or second flush tea, but for those who prefer a bold taste of their tea this is when that full flavor really starts to develop.
The last flush comes in between October and December. The taste of this tea is closer to second flush, but with the fullest flavors of the season. The leaves are much larger and the final color of the tea is much darker, even before final processing.
The next time you are shopping for tea, you may want to experiment with different flushes for your next purchases. If it is in season, we recommend trying our First Flush Green Tea and see how it compares to your current favorites.