In May, the He Family can finally take down the greenhouses that have protected their tea plants throughout Shandong’s cold winter and early spring. Though the He Family does pick and produce a small amount of Spring harvest teas harvested while the greenhouses are still covered, these are special early harvests, and not what the He Family considers to be their classic Spring picking.
The He Family calls their classic Spring harvests “Da Tian” – tea harvested once the greenhouse coverings come down for the season. These harvests, including classic Spring Laoshan Green and Laoshan Bilochun, are some Mr. He’s favorites of the year! With the coverings gone, the tea plants begin producing leaves that are bolder in flavor. Though slightly less candy sweet than the most delicate early spring harvests, these pickings produce teas with a full, rich flavor, engaging mouthfeel, and distinctive aftertaste.
The Da Tian (classic spring) harvests are distinctly “Laoshan” in their character, especially in that singular soy bean aroma: for the He Family, these harvest truly capture all of the things that make Laoshan tea completely unique.
these Spring 2016 harvests in Laoshan are especially so.
The winter was particularly cold and long this year – throughout China, farmers battled late snow fall and frosts. Because Laoshan is China’s northernmost growing region, their plants were especially hard hit. The He Family alone lost fully one third of all of their plants to frost.
Though the He Family cuts back a section of their fields to the roots every five years or so as a form of crop rotation, the killing frost destroyed years of growth on mature plants that would otherwise be producing for the 2016 spring season. Despite the harsh losses, the He Family has remained optimistic – cutting all of their damaged plants back to their roots again to encourage new, healthy growth. With hard work, and if the weather is kind, Mr. and Mrs. He expect their plants to begin to recover over the next three years.
For this Spring season, the cold weather brings good along with its trials: though the cold has pushed back some of the Spring harvest by a few weeks, those plants that survived the winter are producing tea that is particularly sweet and tender.
While this also means that the classic Spring Laoshan Black harvests are still yet to come, the very first Reserve harvests of Spring Laoshan Black have just been picked! This small buds black tea was just picked and finished last week. Though the very first harvest (finished May 11th) went entirely to our Tea of the Month Club members, we still couldn’t wait to share the very special, early Reserve Laoshan Black tea with all of you – picked and finished just a few days later (May 13-15).
These early harvest Laoshan Black is particularly special this year, when every leaf made into Black Tea means that much less that the He Family can share with their local fans. The fact that the He Family was so willing to dedicate even a portion of this harvest to black tea speaks volumes about how much your support over the last few years has mean to the family.