This post is something that we re-post each year at this time. We hope that it will clarified for many tea drinkers what they need to pay attention to right about now when purchasing tea in the weeks preceeding the arrival of fresh, new tea from the 2015 spring tea season.
Every year, right before the fresh tea season begins, many tea sellers begin to introduce ‘new’ tea. While this may suggest that these teas are fresh teas from spring 2015, 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 2015 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 late winter/ early spring, so most ‘new tea’ (if it does not have a 2015 harvest date), is not from this spring. If fresh tea from 2015 is what you want, it is important that you understand if the tea being offered can possibly be fresh tea from 2015 or if it is tea from some other season.
It is confusing when tea vendors add ‘new teas’ to their inventory 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 ‘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 our point is two-fold:
- 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.
- 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 when in the spring premium Chinese green, black and white teas are made and will hit the marketplace:
- 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 ending
Tea production times follow roughly the same pattern each year with slight allowances for weather, and there is seasonal timing to when tea factories make certain teas. 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.
So awareness of when certain 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 until late April or early May, so any tea of this type being sold now is tea from last winter or last spring. 2015 spring high mountain gao shan oolong is still many weeks away from being made.
As always, Tea Trekker will have fresh, 2015 new tea as soon as possible. We are right now readying orders with our Chinese and Indian tea suppliers for the time when these teas are actually manufactured and samples can be air shipped to us to taste and evaluate. We received samples and taste them immediately, placing orders for our supplies of these teas the very next day.
The first of our 2015 Eastern and Western China teas will be a handful of pre-Qing Ming green, yellow and black teas which will be followed by the first of the 2015 1st Flush Darjeelings from India.Once the season is underway our tea deliveries arrive fast and furiously. So that our customers may appreciate the absolute fresh goodness of these tea we will have the teas air-shipped to us to arrive at our store as fast as possible. (Sign up for for email alerts announcing that when certain teas arrive – many customers wait for these teas and some sell out quite fast each year!)
Black, green, white, oolongs and Pu-erh from the 2nd seasonal Yu Qian plucking (April 6th to April 20th) will be shipped to us as their production season is underway.
The 2015 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 2015 Japanese green tea to our shop about the middle to end of May. ( Again, watch your in-box for emails).
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 dates of harvest.
Tea enthusiasts who are familiar with seasonal tea production and the relative times that certain teas will be available in the marketplace, 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!