Following is Tearroir's special Weather & Tea Report.
We have tasted some exceptional Spring teas this year, though they aren’t all exceptional.
The best tea crop of the year has without a doubt been Spring. Spring 2012 was short-lived in Taiwan, as summer came around quite early. Because Spring 2012 was relatively hot, the leaves grew more rapidly than normal, diffusing the concentrated flavors usually associated with Spring teas through a larger surface area of leaf. The majority of spring tea crops were average, with fewer above average crops than usual.
Tea makers with existing relationships with specialty, small-production operations in high altitude regions have been able to access high quality raw materials for their tea-making, though many spring teas at the lower or middle segments of the market have been accepted as unremarkable.
Because Spring has been the best season of the year thusfar, a majority of the teas that we have in stock (http://tearroir.com/
Summer was extremely hot and typhoon-ridden in Taiwan this year, so many tea makers have completely disregarded summer crops. Especially in southern regions like Nantou where a majority of the Dong Ding, and Oriental Beauty tea is produced, and regions like Chiayi, home of the infamous Alishan Oolong, typhoons can be a serious threat.
Summer weather was fine for “beverage tea” like the bottled green or oolong teas you might find in a convenience store, for some black teas, which thrive in hotter temperatures, but not healthy for more delicate premium, and super premium teas.
Coming out of an unusually hot summer where temperatures stayed consistently above 30°C from June – August, fall crops throughout the country were below average. Many specialty, artisan tea makers would not touch them, much the same as Taiwan’s summer crops. Southern Taiwan saw a number of typhoons and landslides in the early fall negatively affect crops.
In our personal experience tasting teas, we found that certain Fall crops of high mountain Oolong (Alishan Jinxuan, Alishan Oolong) evoked aromas of crushed up Flinstone’s Kids Vitamins, and gym socks. This could have been due in part to poor storage, though the unusually hot weather of summer had a definite effect on the quality of Fall teas.
If possible, we advise that you keep your inventories of tea & personal collections clear of fall crops of Oolong tea from Taiwan.
Winter teas are just hitting the markets here in Taiwan right now – the teas on the highest altitude mountains like Fushoushan have just been picked, and are being bought up at alarmingly rapid rates. We have been fortunate enough to taste some of the best quality Winter Dayuling High Mountain Oolong tea this year (it’s divine), and have managed to put our foot on an extremely limited quantity.
Throughout the winter, farmers work their way from top to bottom on the highest altitude mountains to give the weather a chance to cool down at lower altitudes before harvesting winter crops from lower altitude regions like Muzha, and Nantou.
Weather has a definite and powerful impact on the quality of tea in your cup when you drink teas at the highest end of the value spectrum. Just like wine connoisseurs pay close attention to the climate in their favorite wine producing regions, so too should tea connoisseurs pay attention to the climate in their favorite tea producing countries, and regions.
Our Winter 2012 Taiwan Weather and Tea Report is intended to help introduce the tearroir™ of tea in Taiwan to those discerning tea drinkers who aren’t fortunate enough to live here and experience the wonderful teas and weather on a daily and weekly basis in person. If you are curious to learn more about the terroir of tea, or tearroir™, r (http://tearroir.com/