June 10th Update on 2012 Tea Arrivals

Tea, tea and more tea. We are thrilled to announce our first-round of new teas for 2012. The second round is on the way, so keep checking teatrekker.com for new additions.

This year the green tea harvest was delayed throughout eastern China by unseasonable weather conditions. In some areas long periods of colder than usual weather lingered as winter retreated and spring approached, and in other areas incessant rainfall and cold delayed the start of leaf plucking. But despite the rocky start and the plucking delays, our teas from this season are excellent in flavor, aroma and appearance.

Because of plucking and production delays our Chinese teas arrived later than usual this spring ( Darjeelings from India, too!).  Last year most of our Pre-Qing Ming teas were in our store by April 5th (a herculean feat in any year and last year was an extraordinarily cooperative year), but this year schedules had to adjust to accommodate the weather. The quantity of China spring green tea produced in 2012 was much smaller than usual, so we are happy to report that we received just about everything that we wanted with minimal (if any) price increases.

For us, this delay coincided with our decision to re-locate our store. Which meant that much of our new tea began to arrive as we were beginning to pack up for the move. That is not the way we would have liked it to be, but whenever the tea arrives safe and sound we are happy.

From late April until the middle of May new tea poured into the store pretty rapid fire. We carved out time to list some of these teas on teatrekker.com; others were offered only in the store. Now that we are happily in our new storefront, all the new 2012 teas that we have are now listed on the website. Not everything has complete information (that will come soon!) but you will find listings and prices in place.

As always, we are happy to answer any questions about availability and what’s in the pipeline.

Here is what we have –

2012 China Green Tea

  • Xi Hu Longjing: Meijiawu Village (Pre-Qing Ming)  – sold out! 
  • Xi Hu Longjing: Meijiawu Village  (Yu Qian)- in stock!
  • Xi Hu Longjing: Shi Feng – in stock!
  • Xin Chang County Longjing: Dafo Village ( Pre-Qing Ming) – in stock!
  • Buddha’s Tea (Jui Hua Shan Fo Cha) ( Early Spring ) – in stock!
  • Huang Shan Mao Feng ( Early Spring ) – in stock
  • Kai Hua Long Ding (Pre-Qing Ming) sold out!
  • Kai Hua Long Ding  ( Yu Qian ) – in stock!
  • Lu Shan ( Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!
  • Gan Lu (Sweet Dew) ( Pre-Qing Ming) – sold out!
  • Gan Lu ( Sweet Dew ) ( Pre-Qing Ming Grade A X-Fine Pluck ) – in stock!
  • Tiamu Snow Sprout ( Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!
  • Tiamu Spring Beauty ( Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!
  • Yunnan Spring Buds  (Pre Qing Ming) – in stock!
  •  Zhu Ye Qing  (Pre-Qing Ming)sold out!

2012 China Red Tea ( black tea )

  • Bai Lin Gong Fu (Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!

2012 China White Tea

  • Bai Mudan ( Yu Qian ) – in stock!
  • Fuding Wild Curly Leaf ( Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!
  • Yunnan Bai Mudan – in stock!

2012 China Yellow Tea

  • Mengding Mountain Huang Ya ( Pre-Qing Ming ) – in stock!

2012 Japan Green Tea

  • Hashiri Shincha – in stock!

2012 Darjeeling, India

  • 1st Flush, Castleton Garden, SFTGFOP1 CH – in stock!
  • 1st Flush, Goomtee Garden, FTGFOP1, Organic – in stock!
  • 1st Flush, Makaibari Garden, SFTGFOP1, Bio-Dynamic, Organic – in stock!
  • 1st Flush Margaret’s Hope Estate, FTGFOP1 – in stock!

Coming Soon –

  • China red teas (black)
  • China oolongs – Anxi & Dan Cong
  • Japan greens ( old favorites ) and new offerings
  • Taiwan gao shan oolongs

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2009 Pre-Qing Ming Yellow Teas are here !

Last but certainly not least, our yellow teas have just arrived from China. Yellow teas are very few in number these days but they remain very important in the Chinese repertoire of classic teas. Yellow tea is most easily described as a variation of green tea, but this suggests that the methodology for making it came after the perfection of green tea making skills. I have a hunch that yellow teas were made before green teas were classified as such, but this is just based on my own thoughts and musings about tea-making history in China.

Anyway, those of you who have never tried a yellow tea ( and those who will admit that you have never even heard of one before now ) are in for a treat. Pre-Qing Ming yellow teas are not readily available in the USA and certainly not when they are this fresh.

Yellow tea differs from green tea by the addition of an extra step in the processing. During leaf manufacture ( which begins with de-enzyming and shaping ) the fresh leaves are steamed very slightly and then allowed to rest. But, as nothing is ever really as easy as it may seem in the complicated world of Chinese tea manufacture, the steaming step is where the genius of the tea maker comes into play.

For example, details such as: how long to steam the tea leaves, how many times to steam or for how many days, how much rest to give the tea in between each steaming, how to wrap or cover the steamed leaves while they rest, will all affect the final flavor of the tea. The tea master decides the answers to these questions and it is only after he sees the fresh leaf and judges its quality and essence that he can determine how he will execute the ‘yellowing step’.

Because of this yellowing step, yellow teas are very smooth and fine flavored. Yellow teas are always made from an early spring plucking of budsets ( buds and one or two leaves ) the crème de la crème of spring teas. They were once made only as Tribute Teas, reserved for the Emperor’s exclusive enjoyment.

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Mengding Mountain Snow Buds

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Mengding Mountain Snow Buds

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Mengding Mountain Snow Buds

This mountain on the Tibetan Plateau in NW Sichuan Province is likely the birthplace of cultivated tea. Mengding Mountain is northwest of Mt Emei, one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism. Mengding Mountain Snow Buds are a springtime phenomenon: they are big, fat, first-of-the-season juicy buds that are brimming with the vigor of tea bushes that are beginning their growth cycle. Tea pluckers gather these buds in small silk bags, rather than the more common ( and large ) tea plucking baskets. Two people picking in this manner for one full day will gather only one kilo of fresh buds.

This is a very elegant tea with a slightly toasty taste: it needs several steepings to really show off its deep-rooted flavor profile. The overall taste sensation from this tea is sweet, crisp and clean. There is a cool and bracing quality to Mengding Mountain Snow Buds that affirms its high altitude terroir.

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Huo Shan Yellow Sprouting

 2009 Pre-Qing Ming Huo Shan Yellow Sprouting

Another incredible yellow tea from Huo Shan county in Anhui Province. This tea is comprised of a bud with one tiny leaf. The leaf is covered with a fuzzy down, a trait of this tea bush cultivar and the nature of the leaf. Huo Shan Yellow Sprouting brews a lovely pale golden green color in the cup, and the flavor is slightly warm, nutty and reminiscent of artichokes or chestnuts. These tea gardens, located on Jin Shan Tou, are not positioned at a high elevation – just around 2,500 feet. But the location is rocky, and gives the tea a yen character. The richness of the soil is evident in the buttery flavor.