The most exciting time of the year is here!
All winter long, our friends and partners from Qianjiazhai all the way up to Laoshan have been busy prepping for the first new harvests of spring. Tea plants have been slowly building up sugars in reserve for their delicate tender buds just starting to emerge after the cool winter weather. The early harvests benefit from this slow build up of sugar and lower light and temperature, yielding sweeter and more delicate aromatic brews than later harvests.
With new spring harvests coming in daily, our friends are sending us updates from the fields, which we’ll be adding as they come in. First and foremost we have exciting news from Verdant Tea Co-owner He Qingqing in Laoshan Village.
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Laoshan Village, Shandong
Laoshan’s pre-Qingming picking season is finished!
The He family is now preparing to remove the protective greenhouse covers from their fields to expose their tea to bigger swings in temperature and help it build bigger flavor and texture. Qingqing took a much-needed break for Qingming Festival to take her daughter Jiaqi into Qingdao for a family outing, but is back at work this week. Expect to start seeing classic Laoshan harvests in the coming weeks!
The first reserve harvest of Flat Pressed Laoshan Green is here! The most labor intensive harvest of the early spring season is wrapping up, and Mr. He is proud of this year’s delicate, aromatic Flat Pressed Laoshan Green. With over five years of experience crafting flat-pressed teas, the He Family has honed their craft to give the attention and workmanship to one of the earliest pickings of the year.
Preorders are now open for the He Family’s 2019 1st Picking Reserve Flat Pressed Laoshan Green tea.
We expect to ship Flat Pressed Laoshan Green pre-orders from our US forwarding warehouse the week of April 29th.
After several extremely cold winters, short springs and hot summers, Laoshan’s weather is finally lining up for a perfect harvest! The weather has been unusually mild and is currently warming up earlier than it has in years. This means that for the first time in recent memory, Laoshan is picking at the same time as regions like Dragonwell much further south!
He Qingqing and her father report the first pickings of the year as particularly sweet and aromatic, with lighter forward flavors but bigger aftertaste and texture. In other words, the perfect classic profile that gets the domestic Chinese market extremely excited. For the next three weeks, the He Family will be picking with their greenhouse covers on, a protection from any unexpected cold snaps. These covers provide great shade for the plants and lend an even sweeter profile. The downside is that the He Famiy has to get up and finish picking each day before the sun rises and the greenhouses get too warm.
When the greenhouse covers come off, the flavor profile gets bigger and bolder, and the leaves start growing faster.
As of March 18th, the He Family is offering their Reserve Pre-Qingming 1st Picking Laoshan Green for pre-order, which we expect to be able to ship the week of April 19th from our office in Minneapolis.
We expect flat pressed, biluochun, and pine needle green to follow as the buds get slightly larger and easier to work with, and will post back soon when those become available for pre-order.
Longjing Village, Zhejiang
Classic Dragonwell is here!
Mrs. Li has been outrageously busy finishing the last of the pre-Qingming harvest and is finally getting a chance to catch her breath. She is excited to share the classic harvest – picked days before Qingming – of both traditional Dragonwell and the new #43 varietal. She is taking pre-orders now.
She plans to send her tea on to our office in Jimo this weekend for us to pack up and ship out.
We are hoping to get pre-orders sent by the week of May 13th, if not earlier.
Li Xiaoping has finished up the first harvests of her fantastic #43 varietal Dragonwell, a brighter, crisper varietal introduced to the region relatively recently for its beautifuly verdant green buds and its focused and elegant profile.
Pre-orders for 1st Picking Reserve #43 Shi Feng Dragonwell are now open.
\We expect pre-orders of this tea to ship from our US forwarding warehouse the week of April 29th.
We are also excited to share Li Xiaoping’s first few pictures that she has had time to take this year!
Li Xiaoping has been busy beyond belief with her fresh 2019 spring harvest. She has let us know that this year’s picking in Dragonwell is in even higher demand due to the mild weather ( just like in Laoshan). The result is even sweeter more texturally nuanced Dragonwell.
As one of the more famous farmers in Shifeng, the most famous region in Dragonwell, Li Xiaoping’s tea is highly sought after. The markets have been steady for the last two years, but show signs of starting to skyrocket again with a healthy Chinese economy. Luckily, Li Xiaoping is still ready to set aside as much of her early harvest as possible.
In order to let her know quantities as soon as we can, we are working with her to open pre-orders on her 1st Picking Reserve Pre Qingming Dragonwell as of today, March 18th.
We expect Li Xiaoping’s #43 Dragonwell and later pickings to become available for pre-order in the next three weeks, and have our fingers crossed for weather that allows picking of her semi-wild mountain top grove again a little later in the season.
Qianjiazhai, Mt. Ailao, Yunnan
Zun and Single Tree shang are being harvested now!
This year, the Li Family in Qianjiazhai has become more well-known after being featured on the news in China, and their tea is in higher demand than ever before. We are pre-booking as much of the Zun harvest as we can, but supplies may be more limited this year, and we cannot guarantee getting the full Single Tree harvest in 2020, so make sure to put away a good amount of 2019 harvest when it arrives.
We are excited for the region’s growing renown and what that will mean for the future of tea and conservation in the area.
Master Zhou shared a couple photos of mini 100g cakes. This year, he is excited to introduce a new 2019 wrapper with different colors for each kind of tea he and the cooperative produce. It has been exciting to work back and forth on design with him, so stay tuned for the 2019 wrapper reveal in the coming weeks 😉
Many of the old trees are still flowering right now and should be ready to pick in the next few days for Zun and Single Tree harvests.
Crassicolumna yabao picking has already begun! Mr. Zhou is excited about this year’s harvests, and the whole cooperative is starting to see increased demand, especially for Crassicolumna and old tree sheng pu’er. Luckily, the Li Family was generous enough to let us reserve the same single-tree this year, which should be picking in the next few weeks, along with Zun series 2019 sheng.
We’ll post back more pictures of the spring harvests as Mr. Zhou is able to provide them, and we hope to have an estimated date for Crassicolumna yabao availability soon.
The first pictures are in! The Xikou cooperative has finished their earliest Silver Needle and Bai Mudan of the year.
They’ll be letting those teas develop in flavor through April, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak:
Both the Xikou Cooperative and the Wu family are busy with the very earliest Silver Needle White Tea harvests of the year. Since they prefer to let their teas sit to develop flavor for a month or so, we plan to bring in the early harvests with Bai Mudan a little later in the season. Stay tuned…
Daping, Anxi, Fujian
Master Zhang let us know that much of the low elevation Tieguanyin around Anxi is already picking!
Don’t fall for pre-Qingming Tieguanyin. Fine oolong grows at high elevation, and the cool mountain air means that it doesn’t get warm enough for the big beautiful leaves needed to craft fine tea until the first week of May. If you see earlier Tieguanyin out there, it means it is growing in a flatter, hotter region that gets too much sun. For now, we can all get excited about the upcoming budset green teas to tide us over until late spring when high-elevation oolongs start coming in.
Master Zhang starts picking in the next three to four weeks.
We hope to be in China during Tieguanyin harvest time to document picking and finishing in person, so look out for updates from the fields as they happen. We still expect Tieguanyin to be available in May, as the best harvests are available a little later with the cooler high mountain weather systems slowing down growth. Pre-Qingming Tieguanyin usually only applies to lower elevation harvests near the commercial center of Anxi, and is a goal for hand-harvested rocky mountain top teas like the Zhang family’s tea.
Wuyishan, Fujian & Mt. Wudong, Fenghuang
Li Xiangxi is a firm believer in letting her family’s oolong rest at least a month after firing, and this year, she hopes to make 2019 harvests available in July. Look out for early reserve harvest Jin Jun Mei in the next month. We hope to be in Wuyishan while Tongmu Jin Jun Mei is being picked, so we’ll be posting pictures and tasting notes soon!
Similarly, Huang Ruiguang and his family in Wudongshan let their teas rest for two months before release, so expect to see new Dancong from Huang Ruiguang in August and September.
That’s it for now!
Don’t forget to put in your pre-orders as teas become available. Your support helps each family plan out picking and finishing, guarantees that you get the chance to try these limited harvests, and locks in a 10% discount.
Thanks so much for following along. We can’t wait to keep posting updates as they come in!
This article was originally posted March 18th; updated March 29th with new harvests and news from the fields
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