October is for oolong and osmanthus. In the fall, one of my favorite tasks is tasting, sorting and blending the summer oolongs. Along come mid-October, our osmanthus (Tea Olive) blooms with the most amazing fragrance. Thought those tiny flowers aren't easy to harvest, they are worth the work. I usually just mix them together and let them blend together for a few days before drying lightly in the oven (e.g., 170 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes) and storing in an airtight container. Another option for simply scenting without mixing is to place a thin towel on the flowers, and layering dried oolong tea on top, then lightly covering for a few days before separating and lightly drying the tea.
Fall is also a good time to plant new tea, if it doesn't rain too much. We have hopes...stay tuned.
Christine Parks, owner and operator of Camellia Forest Tea Gardens, enjoys teaching about tea and the creative process of taking tea from garden to cup.