Our 2013 Longjings are Here

Our 2013 Longjings are here!


We have three famous Longjings from authentic harvesting areas –

After some delays in customs, and other minor issues with shipping, our Longjing teas are here. This year we had the opportunity to purchase Longjing from 3 of the 4 authentic tea harvesting areas: Shi Feng, Meijiawu Village and Weng-jia Shan.

Being able to taste these three choice Longjings in a comparative tasting is a rare opportunity for those interested in tasting the effects of terroir. Or in this case, the subtle difference / similarity of same-name products made from different farms using the same tea making techniques within the same region.

Because of the effects of terroir on the final characteristics of tea grown within the region, all of these teas are similar but different to one another. All have the expected Longjing  appearance and leaf style – some are greener, some have more slightly elongated leaf and bud plucks, some have a bit more early spring ‘down’ on the leaf, etc. but all are easily identified as what they are. The flavors, while each unique, have a core taste in common that marks them as Longjing.

These differences between these 3 teas is small, not big; subtle, not overblown. It is a matter of degrees in the sweetness and toastiness, and the amount of mouth feel, intensity of the flavor and the length and strength of the finish. These Longjings present the tea drinker with lovely variations of a elegant theme.

Like a Bordeaux wine tasting, one can conduct a tea tasting of our 2013 Longjings and happily ruminate on the results with a group of like-minded tea enthusiasts.

1st New 2013 Pre-Qing Ming Tea Has Arrived

Yes, the 2013 spring tea season is underway. More new tea from China will be here next week. And the week after that.  And that. We are very excited.

This is what has just arrived:

2013 Pre-Qing Ming Yunnan Sweet Green Threads
2013 Pre-Qing Ming Yunnan Sweet White Threads

hei cha

2012 1st Flush Darjeeling teas have Arrived!

This post will be brief – just enough information to say that many new 2012 spring teas have arrived this week.

As many of you know, we will be re-locating our shop here in Northampton at the end of the month, so we are madly juggling many balls in the air now (the painter, the sign maker, the cabinet maker, the electrician, the movers, etc) while we keep the shop running in our present location for the next few weeks.

Because the start of the tea season in eastern China and Darjeeling, India was delayed due to weather issues this year, all of our tea that should have arrived a few weeks ago is arriving now and screaming for attention.

The following is a listing of new teas are on the website – some without copy or pictures. These bits of information will come soon.

Here Now!

  • China Black tea: Bai Lin Gong Fu; Jingdong Wuliang Golden Threads
  • China Green tea:  Dragon Whiskers, Tianmu Spring Beauty
  • China White Tea: Bai Mudan, Fuding Wild-Curly Leaf
  • Darjeeling 2012 1st Flush tea: Castleton Garden; Goomtee Estate; Maikaibari Estate; Margaret’s Hope Estate

Tea that is enroute to us from 2012:

  • Fenghuang Dan Cong Black; Fenghuang Dan Cong Milan; Fo Cha; White Hair Monkey; Yin Zhen
  • Mengding Mountain Snowbuds
  • Taiwan Gao Shan & Semiball Rolled Oolongs

And, we will augment our excellent selection of sheng and shou Pu-erh ( cake and loose leaf ) with some DARK TEA: Lio Bao & Hunan Hei Cha – several choices in loose leaf and compressed leaf!

Spring is such a great time for tea!

2012 New Harvest Tea versus ‘New’ Tea

It’s the time of year when fresh tea from the new harvest in China and India begins to show up in the US. It is also the time when some tea vendors add new teas that are not from the new harvest. So it is important for tea enthusiasts to pay attention to harvest dates and know what they are purchasing. Some of you may know this information, many of you will not, so it is worth repeating.

It is helpful to know in what part of spring certain Chinese teas are made: some teas are made from the end of March into early April; many teas are made in mid-April; and others are made from the end of April into early May before the spring tea season comes to an end.

Tea production times follow the same pattern each year, so this information tells us that it is not possible to have certain teas ahead of their usual production dates.

The only 2012 China spring teas available now in the US are a handful of Pre-Qing Ming ( Ming Qian ) green and black teas ( tea plucked before April 5th ) that have been air-shipped over to a few eager tea vendors like Tea Trekker.  Teas from the 2nd seasonal plucking time (April 6th to April 20th) such as white teas, yellow tea, some black and early oolongs will be here soon.

2012 green teas from Japan and Korea have not yet been made – the tea harvest in these countries begins in late spring. These teas (with the exception of Japanese Shincha) are still 4+ weeks away from being harvested (depending on the region and location of the tea gardens).

Right now many tea vendors are introducing ‘new’ teas to their store and websites, and tea wholesalers are looking to move out last years tea at reduced prices. The important thing to realize about that is this – simply because a tea is ‘new’ to a store or website does not mean that it is new tea from the 2012 harvest, and tea enthusiasts should not fall into the trap of thinking 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 teas are still tasty. 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 harvest teas are so close to being available.

Tea vendors who bring new harvest spring teas over in early April send this tea by air so that the tea arrives when it is just days old and super-fresh.  (Shipments of these same teas sent via sea cargo arrive at the historic ‘normal’ time in late July and August). Any tea lover who has had a chance to drink tea this fresh knows what a thrill it is!

So plan your tea purchasing accordingly and make sure that you understand what you are purchasing regarding the dates of harvest.

At Tea Trekker we have begun to list the season and year of the harvest on our green, white, yellow, and oolongs, and some black and Pu-erhs, too. We believe that when dating matters, it matters alot, and that tea enthusiasts who know what these differences mean are better able to make the right choices when purchasing premium tea.