2014 Longjing Tea Has Arrived

http://www.teatrekker.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/product_full/gr-longjing_wen_jia-14.png

This year we are quite pleased to announce the arrival of the first two of our 4 Longjing (DragonWell) offerings for the season. Our ShiFeng and Weng-jia Shan Longjing shipments arrived on Saturday and are ready for drinking.

These geographically-highly-controlled selections are made from pre-Qing Ming leaf (plucked prior to April 5, 2014) and represent some of the most elegant and sought-after teas of eastern China.

To read more about Tea Trekker’s Longing here or to place an order visit:

http://www.teatrekker.com/

Stay tuned for additional Chinese spring green teas arriving soon.

Two 1st Flush 2014 Darjeelings have Arrived

For all of of loyal Darjeeling fans who have been waiting, the good news is that two of our 2014 1st Flush Darjeelings have arrived:

  • 1st Flush Giddapahar Estate
  • 1st Flush Rohini Estate

Click here for a listing of teas that have arrived and teas that are on the way now from China. More 1st Flush Darjeelings to follow in 2 weeks and will be listed soon.

2014 New Harvest Tea versus ‘New’ Tea

This post is a re-post from last year. Because many new tea drinkers may not know how to evaluate some of the claims of ‘new tea’ that are being touted this time of year, we hope this will help. As well as be a good reminder to those of you who know this but need a little re-fresher on this topic.

Soon the earliest plucks of fresh tea from the 2014 spring tea harvests in China, India, and Japan will begin arriving in the US. In fact, Tea Trekker has already received 3 new 2014 season teas from Western China.

News Clip ArtConfusingly, it is also the time when some tea vendors add ‘new teas’ to their inventory that are not from the new 2014 harvest. So it is important for tea enthusiasts to understand what they are purchasing by paying attention to harvest dates. Some of you know this information, many of you may not, so it is worth repeating:

In the next two months, simply because a tea is advertised as ‘new’ to a store or website does not mean that it is new tea from the 2014 harvest, and tea enthusiasts should not fall into the trap of assuming that it is.

If the tea is not dated, it may be last year’s tea (or tea from anytime, really) that is simply ‘new’ to that merchant or tea vendor. Which does not mean that last year’s teas should be avoided – that is not the point.  Some of last year’s green teas are still tasty; but many are not.

But my point is two-fold:

  1. one should be an informed consumer and not assume that a ‘new’ tea is fresh, new harvest tea unless that tea is clearly identified as such
  2. do not  stock up heavily on last year’s green, white or yellow tea unless that is what you mean to do. Some of these teas will keep quite nicely for several more months or even a year if the weather in that place of production had all of the right elements going for it. But in general, one does not want to purchase large quantities of green, white or yellow tea when the new season teas are just around the corner.

It is helpful to know in what period of spring premium Chinese green, black and white teas are made:

  • a few teas are made from the end of March to April 5th ( pre-Qing Ming teas)
  •  most teas are made in mid-April (Yu Qian)
  •  some teas are made from the end of April to the end of May (Gu Yu and Li Xia teas) when the spring tea season is over

Tea production times follow roughly the same pattern each year with slight allowances for weather, and there is an order to when tea factories make certain teas. It most often depends on when the leaf is the right size on the tea bushes to achieve the characteristic appearance of the tea, and that the flavor components of the fresh leaf is properly developed.

So awareness of when certain teas are made will help tea enthusiasts determine if it is possible for a certain tea to have been made in the new tea season or if it must be from last year’s harvest (or older!) For instance, spring high mountain oolong from Taiwan is not plucked until May, so any spring tea of this type being offered now is from last winter or last spring as it is too soon for 2014 high mountain oolong from Taiwan to be in the marketplace.

Our 2014  eastern China teas ( a handful of pre-Qing Ming green, yellow and black teas ) will be arriving as early as next week, followed soon by an early round of 1st Flush Darjeelings.airplaneOnce the season is underway our tea deliveries arrive fast and furiously.To appreciate the absolute fresh goodness of these tea we will air-ship them to arrive at our store as fast as possible. (Watch your in box for email alerts that the tea has arrived – some sell out quite fast each year!)

Tea from the 2nd seasonal plucking (Yu Qian -April 6th to April 20th) of black, white and yellow teas, oolongs and Pu-erh will follow along as their production season arrives.

The 2014 green teas from Japan (with the exception of Japanese Shincha which will be available sooner) are still 4-6 weeks away from being harvested, depending on the region and elevation of the tea gardens. Weather depending, production in most regions will begin at the end of April or in early May. Which puts arrival of 2014 Japanese green tea to our shop about the middle to end of May. ( Again, watch your in-box for emails).

IMG_7473-1So plan your tea purchasing accordingly and make sure that you understand what you are purchasing regarding the dates of harvest. Tea enthusiasts who know what these dates and differences in freshness will end up with fresher tea than those who are unaware of what they are purchasing.

Hooray for spring and happy fresh new tea drinking!

1st of the 2014 Chinese Spring Teas have Arrived !

What a nice surprise we had yesterday – the 1st of our 2014 Chinese Pre-Qing Ming Spring Teas arrived. On the 1st day of Spring…. so we take that as an auspicious sign of a good tea season to follow.

Yunnan Sweet Green Threads green tea

Yunnan Sweet Green Threads

This is what arrived:

All are sweet, fresh, vegetal, fragrant and delicious, just as fresh tea should be. Very satisfying with lots of straightforward, seasonal goodness in the cup.

Drink the Jingdong Wuliang now or put some aside in a storage container for a few years down the road.

Additional new 2014 PQM teas from Sichuan Province will be arriving in the next two-three weeks. Followed in April thru early May with tea from Anhui Province and other eastern tea producing regions.

Stay tuned for new arrival updates and drink heartily.

Yunnan Jingdong Wuliang Golden Threads black tea

Yunnan Jingdong Wuliang                       Golden Threads

NOTE: Pre-Qing Ming (MIng Qian) teas are the earliest teas plucked in China. Some tea producing regions in Western and Eastern China experience end-of-winter / early spring weather sooner than other regions. So bud-break comes earlier and tea production begins first in these regions. The earliest plucked teas hold a special significance among Chinese tea drinkers for their small leaf-size, tenderness and gentle sweetness in the cup. In order to be designated a Pre-Qing Ming ( MIng Qian ) the pluck and manufacture must be accomplished between middle-March until April 5th.

Timeline for Arrival of Our 2014 Teas

Whoohoo….it is fast approaching new tea time here at Tea Trekker. I am re-posting this announcement from last spring because, the timeline of tea harvesting is, well, the timeline, give or take the vagaries of global change in the weather.

Read on dear tea enthusiasts….the really exciting news is that as I update this post  the first batch of just-made tea from 2014 SPRING on the way to us from Yunnan Province. If there are no delays at customs, the tea should be here about March 18th or so. Keep checking the website for updates and of course, we will trumpet it’s arrival.

Early spring is an exciting time for us. It marks the arrival of the new tea season in China, India, Japan, Taiwan and Sri Lanka, and with that the anticipation of delicious new tea. We eagerly await the moments when we are notified by tea supplies that the 1st plucked teas are ready and samples have been dispatched to us. The teas we select are then shipped to us via AIR CARGO in order to obtain these premium teas when they  are just 10 days to 2 weeks old. They are such a taste treat, and so rarely available for sale in the USA this soon after manufacture.

Seasonality in tea is important. Tea enthusiasts are beginning to understand that some teas are plucked in only one season of the year, which is usually spring, while other teas may be plucked over the course of two or three seasons. Some teas are best when plucked and manufactured in the spring, others in the summer, still others in the fall, and so on. Some teas have a main spring crop and a secondary crop in the late summer or fall. Knowing the season that a tea was plucked can reveal important information about what to expect in the flavor and aroma of that tea.

All teas, even those manufactured in more than one season, have a time of the year when they are at their tastiest best. For example, for many Chinese tea enthusiasts, green teas plucked early in the spring ( premium teas which are harvested only once a year ) have flavor and aroma that is superior to that of green teas plucked during the summer months (standard teas). Japanese sencha, too, manufactured from leaf  plucked in early May will have a sweetness and a delicacy that is lacking in sencha manufactured in the summer.  While seasonal variations in tea reveal different flavor and aroma qualities, tea drinkers often find that they have personal taste preferences from one season over another.

Spring plucked tea implies ‘freshness’ and freshness is important with green, yellow, and white teas, and some oolongs. ( The notion of ‘fresh’ tea or ‘young’ tea does not apply to all classes of tea. Many Chinese oolongs are aged to enhanced flavor, and other teas ( like matcha, for example ) are best when ‘mellowed’ for several months before drinking. Sheng Pu-erh tea can be drunk young, but is traditionally stored for years to develop rich, deep flavors. Many black teas will hold well for several years and a bit of aging can soften their astringent edges. So knowing when a certain tea was harvested is a gauge to evaluating the tea.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the spring tea harvest begins at different times in different countries and regions of each country. In the locations where tea has a dormant period, bud-break ( the re-awakening of the tea bushes after winter hibernation ) is triggered by seasonal weather changes.

Following below is an approximate timeline of tea harvesting dates in China, India, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and Taiwan based on a normal weather cycle. Of course, these dates are always subject to the whims of nature and the seasonal/unseasonal weather patterns and conditions that affect all farms and agricultural crops. Cold weather will delay plucking, and unseasonably warm weather can speed up leaf growth and the pace of plucking and manufacture by as much as a week or two.

Hopefully, this timeline will help our customers gauge when the 2013 version of their favorite teas might be arriving to our tea shop.

  Tea Harvesting Timeline

  • FEBRUARY

China: production of green and black tea ( dian hong ) begins in some regions of Yunnan Province

India: the Darjeeling and Assam regions in the north begin plucking
1st flush black teas mid-February – mid- March

Sri Lanka: The quality season for the Southern Coast districts is February, and in the Central Highland districts of Nuwara Eliya and Kandy it is February and March.

  • MARCH

China: weather permitting, the arrival of early spring in mid-late March begins the plucking season for some premium green and yellow teas. In Sichuan Province, Mengding Mt. Huang Ya and Zhu Ye Qing can be plucked beginning in mid-March. In eastern China’s Fujian Province, production of bud-plucked Yin Zhen white tea is from mid-March to the end of March. The earliest plucks of  Xi Hu Region Longjing tea ( Zhejiang Province ) and tiny Bi Lo Chun ( Jiangsu Province ) begin to appear at this time as well. In Yunnan Province in western  China, leafy green teas and tender bud green teas are often available for sale by mid-March.

Nepal: Eastern Nepal begins plucking1st flush black tea in mid-March.

Taiwan: early spring semiball-rolled oolong production begins in central Taiwan.

  • APRIL

China: April is the busiest time in eastern China for premium green teas from Anhui Province ( Huang Shan Mao Feng; Lu An Guapian; Tai Ping Hou Kui; etc ); Jiangxi Province ( Lu Shan; Ming Mei ), Sichuan Province ( Gan Lu )  and Zhejiang Province ( Longjing;  Long Ding, etc.). The 1st Fenghuang Dan Congs are plucked beginning in early-to-mid April. Certain black teas are produced in mid-April: Yingde # 9; Bai Lin Gong Fu; Yixing Congou; Panyang Congou ( Golden Monkey ). The leaf  and bud materials for Pu-erh are plucked from old tea trees in parts of Yunnan Province from April to July.

NOTE: the spring season in China is divided up into 4 periods of time, and the harvest dates of the most anticipated green teas, such as Longjing, are associated with certain dates on the agricultural calendar. This is the breakdown for the production time based on a perfect weather season:

  1. pre-Qing Ming or Ming Qian tea ( leaf plucked before April 5th )
  2. Before the Rains or Yu Qian tea ( leaf plucked before April 20th )
  3. Spring tea or Gu Yu tea ( leaf pucked before May 6th )
  4. Late spring or Li Xia ( leaf plucked before May 21st )

India: spring tea from the Nilgiris are manufactured in April/May.

Japan: limited early production of the first new tea of the new uear – Shincha – may begin in late April as well as first plucked Sencha (Ichibancha) teas.

Korea: the first of the season green - Ujeon – is plucked just before Koku ( the first grain rain and the sixth seasonal division), around April 20th.

Taiwan: spring pluck Baozhong comes to market towards the middle April. Production of jade oolongs from lower elevation tea gardens begins.

  • MAY

China: production of Lapsang Souchong begins in northern Fujian Province in early May: in southern Fujian semiball -rolled ‘green’ oolongs from the Anxi region ( Tieguanyin and SeZhong varietals: Ben Shan; Huang Jin Gui; Mao Xie; Tou Tian Xiang ) begin to appear in mid-May. Black teas such as Keemun Hao Ya A and Keemun Mao Feng from Anhui Province come to market, too. The base tea for jasmine tea ( zao pei ) is made and stored until the fresh flower blossoms arrive in the summer. Production of leafy  Bai Mu Dan; Gong Mei; and Shou Mei white teas begins and ends in May.

India: 2nd flush teas begin to be plucked in Darjeeling and Assam.

Japan: production of Sencha begins and or continues in various regions throughout May. Gyokuro tea production can begin in mid May and continue into early June depending on the location of the tea gardens.

Korea: production of Sejak occurs during Ipha ( the start of summer- around May 6th ); plucking of Jungjak follows during Soman ( full grains season around May 21st ).

Taiwan:  production of high-mountain gao shan begins in the higher elevation tea gardens. Plucking may continue into early June.

  • JUNE

China: light roast Wu Yi Shan oolongs ( Da Hong Pao, Jun Zi Lan, Rou Gui, Shui Jin Gui, Shui Xian, etc.) are manufactured in early June
( sometimes late May ). Traditional charcoal roast Wu Yi Shan oolongs ( heavy roast ) appear about the end of June or early July.

Sri Lanka: the Uva district of the Eastern Highlands produces its quality season teas from June-September.

Taiwan: manufacture of Bai Hao oolong begins in early June.

  • OCTOBER / NOVEMBER

China / Fujian Province: October production of Tieguanyin and local Se Zhong varietals

China / Guangdong Province: November (winter) production of dan congs

Taiwan: mid-to-end of October until mid-November for winter production of high mountain gao shan

  • JANUARY

India: frost teas ( black  tea ) from the Nilgiri region of southern India are manufactured from December thru March.

Sri Lanka: West Highlands quality season in the Dimbula region is January thru March.