Hey all, does Season of harvest matter to you?
Great to hear it does matter to some. Sounds like it especially matters to those who drink oolong.
Attached, in honor of us who want to learn more about season, is an article I just finished regarding season in Puer tea.
Love you all.
When was your tea picked and why does it matter?
We are so honored to have had the chance to share tea with you lately, it is such a joy. In effort to answer some of the questions that have been sent in, we are here to give a bit of information about some of the not-so-basic Pu’er facts.
Lets keep it simple. There are three different kinds of Pu’er Tea
Raw Pu’er Tea (purest form and the only tea we offer)
Aged Raw Pu’er (Pu’er that has been naturally aged for years)
Ripe Pu’er Tea (tea that may or may not be old but is artificially aged and is much darker in color).
There is much to be said and learned about each of these, and we encourage you to; however, within the category of Raw Pu’er there is two subcategories that are very rarely discussed: Spring and Autumn.
The season in which any tea is picked greatly determines its taste, look, and value. Many of the World’s famous teas are prized for the Spring harvest, Pu’er is not to be excluded. Spring Pu’er is picked for about three months usually beginning in late January or early February, depending on the region. Autumn is generally picked beginning around September.
Spring Pu’er is known for its smooth and mellow flavor, usually not nearly as bold as a great Autumn Pu’er. The leaves are generally smaller, as they are new to the tree/bush, and after sitting dormant over the winter, sprout with a tremendous amount of vibrant energy and usually caffeine is more noticeable in this tea. Depending on how early or late in Spring, the rainfall rate will effect the growth rate which effects the amount of nutrients that had time to build up in the leaves. The flavor is very refreshing and the feeling is vibrant.
Autumn Pu’er is known for its bolder flavors and reminiscent of a stone-fruit or earthy taste. The rainy season is coming to a close and the leaves grow large and sit on the branch collecting flavor and depth. The energy is much more comforting and the taste is sweet and smooth. The color is more amber-like as opposed to the bright green of a Spring Pu’er.
Think of it as the difference between Easter and Thanksgiving. During Easter we have flowers just blossoming onto the fruit trees and the weather is cooler and more floral of a feeling, so the tea has notes of those blossoms. In Thanksgiving, we have much bolder and darker colors and the flower that was once on the tree has turned into fruit and the weather is warmer and more comforting. The teas of this seasons are just that, warmer and bolder, tasting more like fruit than like flower. The difference is subtle but certainly noticeable.
Available now is a limited supply of Spring Pu’er from the Same Family and Same Farm as always. Many, in fact most, Pu’er available through others is blended. There is no idea of whether it is Spring or Autumn, or maybe even Winter or Summer(which is usually the teas sent off to factories that produce Ripe Pu’er. If the season and the year are not given, maybe its time to start asking questions.
Thank you so very much for being a part of educating and exploring this world of Pu’er Tea with us. Let us all continue to drink Pu’er and learn more about teas, and about life.
Nicholas and your friends at Misty Peak Teas
I am curious if you could clarify your statement:
“Pu’er available through others is blended. There is no idea of whether it is Spring or Autumn, or maybe even Winter or Summer (which is usually the teas sent off to factories that produce Ripe Pu’er. If the season and the year are not given, maybe its time to start asking questions.”
From 2009 (when we first started producing our own Yi Wu tea) until now we have always clearly defined what is Autumn and what is Spring. Autumn can be quite good but it’s less sought after (than spring) and the price is typically 30-50% less than spring (from the same family/village/source). I know for a fact Hai Lang Hao a producer of premium Yi Wu teas and a close personal friend of mine also always clearly states what is autumn and what is spring Yi Wu.
Spring tea is bolder and ages with more character than Autumn tea. Not to say Autumn tea can’t be good, but there is a reason why the prices for Spring raw pu-erhs are higher regardless of region.
I also noticed you are selling Spring 2015 Raw Pu-erh…
This is strange to me since you are selling the tea from the USA, and listed the tea 23 days ago. How is it possible that this tea is Spring 2015 tea? I have been traveling throughout Yunnan for most of March and April (so far) and the early spring picking for Pu-erh was last week of March and most teas (from Yi Wu) were picked the first week of April. How were you able to to get the tea picked, processed, pressed, dried and sent to the USA all before everyone else in Yunnan was even picking the spring pu-erhs? By my calculations if you listed that tea 23 days ago, needed 1 week to pick, process, press, and dry before sending, then another 10 days to transport from remote Yunnan to Portland (by fastest delivery) that would mean that the tea was harvested roughly 40 days ago, which means it was picked around March 1st. Can you tell us when this tea was harvested and which village/area it’s from? What is an FDA registered farm? I have been in Yunnan for 12 years doing Pu-erh productions and visiting tea mountains and I didn’t know the US Food and Drug Administration had a presence in China.
Thanks for asking these questions, Scott! I have wondered about some of the tea companies on Steepster for awhile. It will be interesting to see what responses (if any) you receive.
Cwyn was also thinking about this recently, based on this blog post:
Hopefully she doesn’t mind my sharing it here. I’ll delete the comment if desired, but I think a number of Steepsterites follow her blog.
Did a comment disappear?
Yes. I had a Steepster notification and read the comment, but then it was deleted, presumably by the commenter. I’ll keep it to myself though since I assume it was deleted for a reason. It’s wasn’t inappropriate or anything.
There was for a little bit and when I went to read it, it was gone. Showed up in email.
I kept my comments on my blog until now but since Nicholas posted on my blog, I’ll reply here too. The Spring 2015 cakes selling on your site right now, and the cake I got is not fresh spring tea. It is brown. As I said on my blog, at BEST it is older spring maocha that was recently pressed, or a fall harvest. As Scott said, there is no way the new spring tea leaves were ready and no way for a fresh spring cake to pressed and in the U.S. right now. Those of us following other vendor photo blogs are seeing Crimson Lotus just wrapping up their pressing, and other vendors still working in Yunnan right now. Even if you can claim to have harvested mid-late Feb, the tea would be incredibly green which this tea is not.
Nicholas, I like the taste of your tea cakes but you are flat out fudging on the cakes you are currently shipping. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt and raise other general issues of relative truth in my blog because I’m NOT in the market of ruining anyone’s business or livelihood. But you are doing this to yourself in trying to cover the deception about the cakes you’re selling.
Thanks for your honesty, Cwyn. As noted above, I have wondered about some of the business practices of a few companies on Steepster for some time. It is great to see an expert like yourself taking this company to task for its deceptive business practices.
I’ll give you my two cents on season of harvest regarding Japanese green teas.
It’s crucial, spring teas get their own name (shincha), are far more expensive and there’s quite a demand for it. You’ll also notice that it’s hard to find those teas outside Japan.
The green tea from the last two seasons is of lower quality, and is called in general bancha.
That explains a lot actually. I tend to prefer autumn harvests of most things as I really dislike the “green” flavour. The greens I tolerate best are autumn, and many of favourite darker teas are even better later on. I also prefer second flush darjeeling for similar reasons. I like that my tastes are cheaper, hehe!
I had a Shincha once, it was a thing of magic…like drinking the essence of spring itself!