Lenggong, Perak, Malaysia
Sun 13 Mar 2011 33 °C
I had an hour spare today so I went up the hill in search of some tea leaves to harvest. This property was originally a tea plantation and amongst the vines and scrub, a few trees remain.
When I found a suitable tree, I began collecting the smallest leaves, discarding the bigger ones. Matured tea leaves become very bitter so it is important to only use the very light green leaves that have recently unfurled. These leaves are roughly 7 days old, so with regular picking and pruning, it should be possible to harvest once a week.
If these leaves were left to dry, the result would be a batch of green tea. I am taking the leaves between my palms and rubbing them back and forth as if trying to start a fire with a stick. In this way, the leaves a crushed, breaking down the cells and releasing their enzymes. The enzymes combine with oxygen and begin to wilt and turn black - black tea.
I spread the tea over an old piece of newspaper and leave them inside to dry. The tea should not dry in temperatures over 60 degrees so I have decided not to put it outside in direct sunlight. After 24 hours, I collect the dry tea leaves, pack them into a small pouch and slide them into my backpack - a little piece of the jungle to take with me when I head back into the city tomorrow.