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 2017 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 2017 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 (perhaps 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 2017 harvest date, it is not from this spring. If no harvest date is given for the tea, and if Chinese tea from 2017 spring is what you want, it is important that you understand the tea harvesting calendar to understand when new teas are made and subsequently when the first date is that these teas will be available for sale in the USA.
It is confusing when tea vendors add ‘new teas’ to their inventory this time of year and they 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 but many are not.
But our point is two-fold:
- one should be an informed consumer and not assume that a ‘new’ tea is new 2017 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 from the previous spring when the new season spring teas are just around the corner.
What You Need to Know
It is helpful to know when in the spring premium Chinese green, 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 classified as Yu Qian teas.
- some of these have a 3rd plucking made from the end of April to the end of May and are classified as Gu Yu and Li Xia teas.
- Some green teas are plucked only in the Yu Qian season and others only in the Gu Yu and Li Xia season. It all depends on the size of the leaf required to make certain teas.
- Li Xia marks the end of the new spring tea season for green, white and yellow tea
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 2017 Tea Arrivals
As always, Tea Trekker will have our earliest harvest 2017 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.
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 2017 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 2017 Japanese green tea to our shop about the beginning of June.
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
Hooray for spring and happy fresh new tea drinking!