May 18, 2012
Okay, we’ll admit it. ‘Second flush’ isn’t exactly the most enticing phrase – but we’re not talking about plumbing issues, promise.
Read on to find out why these two words are quite so important to making a proper brew…
In Assam, in northeastern India, conditions are perfect for tea right now. During the cooler winter months, tea bushes lie dormant, waking in the warmth of spring to produce their ‘first flush’, or first harvest. But because they’re tired from winter it takes the spring to perk them up. It’s the ‘second flush’ that follows when you find Assam tea at its best.
Hotter weather, more humidity, and higher rainfall makes for stronger tea bushes. And the soil is richer too, so conditions are ideal for producing the best quality leaves.
As a result, this is also the time of year when our tea buyers look a little more flushed than usual – it’s an incredibly busy period for them back here in Harrogate, and they work long hours to ensure they secure the pick of the crop from the best Assam tea estates.
In Assam’s tea gardens on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River (which incidentally feeds the Ganges and is not only the longest river in India, but is also the country’s only ‘male’ river due to its power and ferocity) temperatures are racing up and heavy humid rain pounds down in the evenings. The tea, however, is absolutely lapping it up because that’s what it needs – plenty of rain, followed by plenty of sunshine.
We know this, because Suzy, from our tea buying team, has just returned from there. To be honest, we’d been a little worried about the recent weather and how it might affect this year’s crop.
But don’t worry – as the lush, yellowy green leaves in Suzy’s photo from the Moran district of Assam demonstrate, it’s going to be an outstanding second flush harvest in Assam this year, which means there’ll be plenty of rich Assam tea to give Yorkshire Tea and Yorkshire Gold its ‘gutty’ strength and wonderfully malty notes.
So, next time you have a proper brew and get a malty kick, you’ll know where it came from and what it takes to make it happen.