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, co-owner of Camellia Forest Tea Gardens, enjoys the creative process of taking tea from garden to cup.