Our Awesome Nepal White Tea

Nepal Himalaya White Moon Dance white tea

We work directly with Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden for the teas that we sell from their gardens each year. This tea really impressesd us with its brisk flavor and fresh, exhuberant aroma.

It is a stunning example of the art of tea making and a limited, seasonal pluck from a specific spring time frame. It is comprised of a very tiny leaf and bud. This tea was made just a few weeks ago – now that’s fresh!

In fact, we like this tea so much that we purchased the entire batch that was made (minus 2 kilos that went to a fine tea shop in Europe!).

Read more about it here:

https://www.teatrekker.com/nepal-himalaya-white-moon-dance

Our 2016 Spring Teas are Here!

Welcome spring – welcome new spring  tea !

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Our fresh 2016 new teas are being sent from the tea fields as soon as they are made. As each tea arrives we add it to the Tea Trekker website where it will appear in the appropriate listing for its type of tea (green, black, etc) and also in the seasonal teas listing for 2016. We expect the spring green teas to continue arriving thru the month of April.

Happy, sweet tea drinking!

 Click her to follow our 2016 fresh spring tea harvest arrivals

 

The 1st of Our 2016 Famous Chinese Teas are On The Way!

In the distant days of pre-history, forest-dwelling inhabitants experimented with cooking the leaves and buds plucked from wild-growing tea trees in the far Western regions of China. Since that time, tea has developed over the centuries into a refined and elegant beverage: the drink of emperors, monks and every man.

China was the first country to understand the value of the leaves of indigenous Camellia sinensis and Camillia assamica tea bushes – first as a food source, then as a medicinal tonic and lastly as a refreshing beverage. Centuries were spent cultivating vast numbers of teas  in the mountainous regions of China, and in refining methods for preparing tea. Exquisite teawares were created to showcase this precious beverage, adding a tactile and visual element to social tea gatherings.


Imperial Tribute Teas / Famous Chinese Tea

Fortunately for us today, many of these historic teas survive. Once known as Imperial Tribute Tea  (teas once favored by various ruling emperors) today these teas are known as Famous Chinese Teas.

Beginning in China’s Tang dynasty (618-907) and continuing into the Song dynasty
(960-1279) certain teas became renowned for their elegance and refinement. Plucked in the cool, misty days of early spring from isolated tea gardens in lofty mountain regions, these teas were promoted as elixirs of the gods. Each tea was of such remarkable and ethereal quality that successive emperors claimed production of certain teas as his exclusive property. Emperors took delivery of the tea as soon as it was available in the spring, which was recorded as fulfillment of ‘tax’ owed to the government. Hence the name ‘tribute’. The fine reputation of these teas from revered mountains were also known to tea connoisseurs and the literati in the Song dynasty, who praised the sublime nature of these teas and sipped them from fine, delicate tea bowls.

The Imperial Tribute Teas lost their emperors in 1911, but the teas became available to more tea drinkers in China. And their moniker changed to Famous Chinese Teas. The reputation of these teas has survived both the Cultural Revolution and modernization in Chinese drinking habits and they still remain famous and revered today.


Each Famous Chinese Tea is instantly recognizable by its characteristic leaf shape and size, appearance and taste. These are ‘named’ teas, that is teas that are named for their respective mountain source or place of origin. Their pedigree comes not only from their past imperial association but also from each tea’s unique environment – terroir – and the specific cultivation and steps of leaf manufacture that creates its distinguished character.

It is easy to understand why these teas gained imperial favor – each is an example of a regional specialty tea, unlike no other and made no where else in China. And made just once-a-year for a short one, two or three weeks each spring.

Many of these teas are classified as pre-Qing Ming teas, which means that they are made from the first budding tea bushes of spring (from mid-March to April 5th). Accordingly, pre-Qing Ming teas are more costly than tea that is plucked a few weeks later. These teas are in limited supply because the number of pluckable buds on newly sprouting tea bushes is very small.

Tea enthusiasts in China have published various lists of the Top 10 or Top 15 Famous Chinese Teas. The trouble is that there are so many well-known, beloved teas in China that these lists do not always feature the same teas.

So in the spirit of list-making, the following is Tea Trekker’s list of Top 15 Famous Chinese Teas, based on an aggregation of other lists and what we have gleaned from visiting our tea producers in the various tea-growing regions of China.

 


The bold-faced teas in this listing are the Famous Chinese Teas from the 2016 harvest that will be arriving at Tea Trekker in April and May. In some cases, such as Keemun, Da Hong Pao, Longjing, Pu-erh and Tieguanyin we will have more than one tea of that type. This is possible as we source micro-lots of tea from different villages with slight differences in manufacture, sub-varietal specificity, etc. Please visit the respective listings pages for these teas to read about each of them and check back frequently to see what has arrived!

  1.  Longjing – Xi Hu Longjing (green tea) – arriving mid-April 
  2. Bi Lo Chun ( green tea) – arriving early April 
  3. Huang Shan Mao Feng (green tea) – on the way to us NOW! 
  4. Jun Shan Yin Zhen (yellow tea)
  5. Keemun (black tea) – arriving mid-April 
  6. Da Hong Pao (oolong) – arriving late April 
  7. Liu An Gua Pian (green tea) – arriving mid-May 
  8. Tieguanyin (oolong) – arriving early May 
  9. Tai Ping Hou Kui (green tea) – arriving mid-May 
  10. Xin Yang Mao Jian (green tea)
  11. Yin Zhen (white tea) – arriving mid-April 
  12. Pu-erharrives throughout the year 
  13. Lu Shan Yun Wu (green tea) – arriving mid-April 
  14. Ding Gu Da Fang (green tea)
  15. Mengding Mountain Gan Lu (green tea) – arriving approx. mid-April

Thoughts On the Arrival of 2016 Spring Tea

Whoohoo….it is fast approaching the new 2016 tea season here at Tea Trekker.

Early spring is an exciting time for us. It is filled with anticipation of the new tea season in China, India, Japan, Korea,Taiwan and Sri Lanka. We eagerly await the moments when we are notified by our tea suppliers that new fresh teas are ready and the samples we requested have been dispatched to us.

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The teas we select are then AIR SHIPPED to us in order to obtain these premium teas when they are just 10 days to 2 weeks old. These fresh teas are such a taste treat, and so rarely available for sale in the USA this soon after manufacture. We pride ourselves on being one of the first tea vendors to accomplish this fast availability of fresh new tea.

Seasonality in tea is important. Tea enthusiasts are beginning to understand that many premium Chinese green, white and yellow teas; and Japanese and Korean green teas are plucked only once each year in the early spring.

Other teas, such as hong cha and oolongs may be plucked over the course of two or three seasons. Tea that is plucked once a year is more expensive because the short manufacturing season yields less tea for the farmers and tea villages to sell. But these teas have superior flavors and aromas and more finesse and character than the standard-quality green teas that are plucked during the summer months, so tea lovers seek them out for the sheer joy they provide in the cup.

Some tea has a main spring crop and a second crop in the late summer or fall. Knowing what season a tea was made can reveal 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. 


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 and having an understanding of when that tea should be drunk, is an important tool in evaluating any tea.


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/un-seasonal 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. And, for tea villages located higher and deeper in the mountains, seasonal tea production can delayed by a week or two.

Hopefully, this timeline will help our customers gauge when their favorite 2016 teas might be arriving to our tea shop. We announce new tea arrivals via our e-newsletters, so those who want to know when teas arrive (some sell out fast ) would be advised to sign-up on the teatrekker.com website to receive these newsletter announcements.

  Approximate Tea Harvesting Timeline

  • FEBRUARY (late)

China: production of bud-pluck green and black tea (dian hong) begins in late February in some regions of Yunnan Province

India: the Darjeeling and Assam regions in the north begin plucking 1st flush black teas end-of-February to 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 March begins the plucking season for some premium green and yellow teas in Western China. In Sichuan Province, Mengding Mt. Gan Lu, Mengding Mt. Huang Ya and Zhu Ye Qing are plucked in mid-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 eastern China’s Fujian Province, production of bud-plucked Yin Zhen white tea is from mid-March to the end of March.

In Yunnan Province dian hong leaf black teas begin to appear in the market along side leafy green and tender bud green teas by mid-March.

Nepal: Eastern Nepal begins plucking 1st flush black tea in mid-March.

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

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  • APRIL

China: April is the busiest time in eastern China for premium green teas from all of the important green tea producing Provinces. Teas such as Anji Bai Cha; En Shi Lu Yu; Huang Shan Mao Feng; Long Ding; and Lu Shan arrive early to claim the Pre-Qing Ming designation

The 1st Fenghuang Dan Cong oolongs are plucked beginning at the end of April.

Production of Lapsang Souchong and Jin Jin Mei begins in northern Fujian Province in April, as well as all the teas that make up the family of Keemun black teas.

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 late April and continue into May.

Light roast Wu Yi Shan oolongs (Da Hong Pao, Jun Zi Lan, Rou Gui, Shui Jin Gui, Shui Xian, etc) are manufactured in late April to early May but are sometimes not sent to market until June. Traditional charcoal roast Wu Yi Shan oolongs (heavy roast) appear in June.

Dian hong production in Yunnan Province begins in April and can extend into May

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 level elevation tea gardens begins in earnest.

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China: Several later-to-market Eastern China Greens that rely on very large leaf sizes, such as Fo Cha; Lu An Guapian; and Tai Ping Hou Kui are ready for May production.

May also brings to market the Bai Lin Gong Fu family of hong cha, and the Golden Monkey Panyang Congou family of hong cha.

The base tea for jasmine tea ( zao pei ) is made now and stored until the tea can be ‘married’ with the fresh flower blossoms when they 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 21s )Taiwan: production of high-mountain gao shan begins in the higher elevation tea gardens. Plucking may continue into early June. Manufacture of Bai Hao begns.

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  • JUNE

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

Taiwan: manufacture of Bai Hao oolong continues into June and sometimes July.

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  • SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER / NOVEMBER

China / Fujian Province: Fall production of Tieguanyin and local Se Zhong varietals is underway at the end of September into October

China / Guangdong Province: September/ October production of  winter dan cong begins

India / Nepal: Fall production of autumnal teas begins in October and can extend into November

Taiwan: mid-to-end of October until mid-November is the time for winter production of high mountain gao shan and mid-level elevation semiball-rolled oolongs; and leafy Bai Hao and Baozhong oolongs.

  • JANUARY

India: winter 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Fresh New Harvest Tea versus ‘New Tea’

This post is something that we re-post every year at this time. We hope that it will clarified for our many new tea enthusiast customers what they need to pay attention to when purchasing tea this time of year (March and April ) in the weeks before the arrival of fresh, tea from the new 2016 Chinese spring tea season.

Every year, right before the new tea season begins, many tea sellers begin to introduce ‘new’ tea. While this may suggest that these teas are ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ teas from 2016 spring, savvy tea drinkers know better. It is important to read between the lines this time of year and pay attention to the actual harvest dates of the tea in question.

In the next two months, simply because a tea is advertised as ‘new’ to a store or website it does not mean that it is new tea from the 2016 harvest. And tea enthusiasts should not fall into the trap of assuming that it is.

Very little new tea has been made in China to date this early spring (only a little from Hainan Island and Yunnan Province). So right now, if a Chinese tea is being sold as a ‘new tea’, and does not have a 2016 harvest date, it is not from this spring. If no harvest date is given for the tea, and if Chinese tea from 2016 spring is what you want, it is important that you understand the tea harvesting calendar to understand when new teas are made and likely to be available for sale in the USA.

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It is confusing when tea vendors add ‘new teas’ to their inventory this time of year and do not list a harvest date. If the tea is not dated, it may be last year’s tea (or tea from anytime, really) that is simply a ‘new’ inventory item for 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 Chinese green and white teas are still tasty (and most Chinese black teas would be); but many are not.

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But our point is two-fold:

  1. one should be an informed consumer and not assume that a ‘new’ tea is new 2016 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 from the previous spring when the new season spring teas are just around the corner.

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What You Need to Know

It is helpful to know when in the spring premium Chinese green, black, yellow, and white teas are made. These are China’s most distinguished hand made teas and are only made for a limited time each spring. Tea production times follow roughly the same seasonal calendar dates each year with slight allowances for weather, and there is seasonal timing to when tea factories make certain teas. Some teas are made in early April while others are made in early May. It 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 for the tea to have its identifiable, characteristic flavor.

  • the first teas to appear in the spring are made for a short window of time from the end of March to April 5th and are known as pre-Qing Ming teas
  • many of these teas have a 2nd plucking in mid-April and are known as Yu Qian teas
  • some of these have a 3rd plucking made from the end of April to the end of May and are known as Gu Yu and Li Xia teas. These teas mark the end of the new spring tea season.
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So awareness of when teas are made will help tea enthusiasts determine if it is possible for a certain tea to be fresh tea from the new season or if the tea must be from last year’s harvest (or older!) For instance, spring high mountain gao shan oolong from Taiwan is not plucked and made until late April or early May, so any tea of this type being sold now can only be from last winter or last spring or beyond.

A Quick Look at Tea Trekker’s 2016 Tea Arrivals

As always, Tea Trekker will have our earliest harvest 2016 Chinese green and white teas air-shipped to us as soon as possible after these teas are made. We are readying our order requests with our Chinese and India Darjeeling tea suppliers for the time when these teas are actually made and samples can be couriered to us to taste and evaluate. We eagerly await these samples and taste them immediately, placing orders for our supplies of these teas the very next day.

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Black, green, white, and oolong from the 2nd seasonal Yu Qian plucking (April 6th to April 20th) will also be air-shipped to us as their production season is underway.

The 2016 green teas from Japan (with the exception of Japanese Shincha which will be available sometime mid-late April) are still 10-11 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 2016 Japanese green tea to our shop about the beginning of June.

 

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Spring is a very busy time in the tea gardens. Each tea has a time in the spring when conditions are right for that tea to be made. So plan your tea purchasing accordingly and make sure that you understand what you are purchasing regarding the harvest dates.

Tea enthusiasts who are familiar with seasonal tea production and the relative times that certain teas are expected in the marketplace will end up with fresher tea than those who are unaware of what they are purchasing.

Sign up for for email alerts announcing that when our spring teas arrive – many customers wait for these teas and some sell out quickly !

For more information on seasonal teas, please follow this link to our website, teatrekker.com

https://www.teatrekker.com/content/seasonal-teas-by-harvest-month

Hooray for spring and happy fresh new tea drinking!

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