Spring Tea Sourcing Timing

Some Oolong Tea sellers offer spring tea early in the season, we prefer to wait. Why do we offer Spring tea when we do? Having sourced tea in Taiwan for over 20 consecutive springs, our experience has provided a few local industry reasons.

1. Having A Complete Tea Menu. 

We like to offer our full seasonal menu all at once rather than in  stages,  so that our customers have a full range of selections to choose from.

Spring tea harvest season in Taiwan typically spans 3 months. It starts in March at low  elevation,  and continues through April and May as the tea leaves reach maturity at successively higher elevations. 

Some years, the highest elevation teas are not harvested until early June. True Lishan or  Dayuling  oolong tea is almost never harvested before mid-May. So waiting for these high elevation crops to be harvested and cured brings us to the end of May before we are ready to present our spring selections.

2. The Roasting Process.

Tea roasting can be a month-long process. Roasting can take about 10 days, and then the tea needs to 'rest' before it can be vacuum sealed. 

3. Tea competition season.

We have learned to wait until just after the entry period for local tea competitions, which is usually May 10-15. This is because our sources are busy (and sometimes stressed) dealing with many different tasks at once. They are  tasting  and determining which batches of tea they will enter for competition, and then preparing them for entry. Preparation includes  de-stemming  the tea leaves--and depending on the competition--can involve up to 40 hours of roasting per entry. Many artisans enter several batches per competition, and there are many regional competitions. They are also busy meeting the demands of local merchants doing their best to source competition grade teas.

So if we can be patient and wait until this work is done, we have found it to be to our advantage. We have learned that the tea that is available after the artisans have submitted their entries to be comparable, if not equal in quality, to what they have chosen. We are also given a lot more time and consideration from our sources if we let them get through their frantic rush time and visit them when the pressure is off. 

In short, we've found it to be a win-win situation to scout out the overall harvest situation, starting with the earliest harvests, and wait until harvesting is done and competition entries have been submitted. This brings us into May. Then, within the next 2-3 weeks, we can source our highest elevation teas that have just been freshly harvested. These teas are made to be left unroasted, so are available immediately after harvest.

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