Making your own cup of black tea
You should be able to harvest the first two leaves and the bud starting in October. Continuing every 2-3 weeks and decreasing to about every week in January through to April. You only need fresh light green new growth to make your tea.
When your bushes are mature (5-6 years old) you should get about 1 kilo or more from 4 bushes. This will produce 200 grams of dry tea.
On a table (made from Hessian stretched over a frame or similar) dry the leaves for about 17 hours in the shade or indoors. The air must be able to circulate around the leaves. Your tea is ready when it is squeezed into a ball and stays as a ball.
Next feed the leaves through a meat mincer (twice) or chop finely and crush with a heavy rolling pin so the leaves are bruised and the flavour is released.
Spread your tea on a tray to 25mm thick and leave for an hour, then turn and leave for another hour.
This is to stop the fermentation. Mount an old fan
heater so the hot air comes out upwards, making sure the air intake is not covered.
5cm above the heater mount a frame with fine .75mm stainless steel mesh. Once
the mesh is hot place your tea on it and turn occasionally until it is very
dry (Feel tea that you have brought to get an idea of what to aim for).
If you dry too quickly it will form a crust on the leaf which will cause a weak brew. Too slow a drying and your tea will taste like it has been stewed.
In a well sealed container (not plastic) store away from light, moisture and heat. Loose tea should have a shelf life of two years.