The new 2012 Spring Green Teas are here!

78 Replies

UPDATE: 4/20/2012:

Life in Teacup:
- Pre-Qingming An Ji Bai Cha First Day Harvest
- Shi Feng Long Jing from Long Jing Village
- Pre-Qingming Da Fo (Great Buddha) Long Jing first day harvest
- Huang Shan Mao Feng (Yellow Mountain Peak) semi-wild 750m (2250ft.) First Day Harvest Limited Edition
- Huang Shan Mao Feng (Yellow Mountain Peak) 1400m (4200 ft.) First Day Harvest
- Wild tea Orchid Fairy Twig 900m (2700 ft.)
- Meng Ding Yellow Bud (Huang Ya) Traditional Style (Yellow tea)

Tea Trekker:

Jing Tea Shop:

Yunnan Sourcing – US:

Tea Spring:


Den’s is taking pre-orders for their 2012 shincha:

I believe Verdant Tea will be getting theirs in soon (I was told that spring comes a little later where most of their green tea is harvested). I am surprised that neither Camellia Sinensis nor Seven Cups has any available yet. Maybe next week?

Dear SimpliciTEA,
This has been a REALLY cold spring for Laoshan, which pushed back the picking a bit. The good thing is that the cold weather led to slower growth and sweeter tea. The first pickings are just now available. The prices on them are higher due to demand, and to rarity this season, but the enthusiasm on this thread you started convinced me to bring in a limited quantity of the first pickings despite the cost. They are confirmed to have left China for JFK yesterday, so I expect them in next week.

Here is the live tracking page, with details on what is coming:

Should be very good!

Hi David,

Thank you for the update.

I’m glad you were honest about the prices, and that you at least gave us some general reasons for the increase in price.

Could you please be more specific on what you mean by those two reasons you gave? Although I am interested in what exactly you mean by, ‘demand’ (something I can more easily understand), I am especially interested in what you mean by ‘rarity this season’. I can speculate on what exactly you mean, but, if you are willing to share at least some of the details here, I know I would appreciate it (I am willing to bet others would, too). As I mentioned in other threads, I judge transparency is vital to building trusting relationships amongst customers and tea retailers (especially when there is no face-to-face contact).

To an extent, in many ways, you have already earned my trust—by initially sending me a very generous sample without having bought a thing from you (some tea retailers turned me down when I asked them for a free sample; for that and other reasons, I have yet to make a purchase from them), by the quality of the tea I have purchased from you on multiple occasions, and by your willingness to work with me toward achieving our shared goal of, as you have so aptly stated, connecting the tea with the customer. Still, in all honesty, I would like to understand why I will be paying more for your tea. I would not ask you this if I thought this was something you would not be open to.

Please forgive me if you feel I am being too bold. But meaningful relationships (business or otherwise) are not built in shallow waters, now are they? : – )

No problem asking about cost. When I say that the price will be higher, I mean it will be similar or equal to last year’s First Picking Spring Laoshan Green price. I was only able to purchase eight pounds of the first picking, and the price that I feel the farmers deserve is quite a bit more than what they need to do well on the autumn harvest.

This number is higher for spring than autumn mainly because of domestic demand in China. The city of Qingdao is near Laoshan, and is starting to develop a major appetite for teas from the village. The first picking teas are usually bought up by businessmen looking for gifts for colleagues and government officials. This is what I mean by demand. While the He Family would happily give me tea without charging for it, due to our friendship, and their desire to share with America and beyond, I must insist on reverse-baragining with them to try and convince them to accept a price that lets them keep doing what they are doing, and allows them to afford more risk-taking in innovation.

Because of the cold spring this year, and the enormous growing appetite for the tea in Qingdao, Weiwei, who represents Verdant in China when I cannot be there, suggested that we offer more for the first picking than usual since the He family’s picking is smaller. If they got a lower price for the smaller crop (due to cold weather and picking delays) they would be set back for it. I am covering the cost difference actually, since I really want people in America to try the spring tea while it is still spring, and don’t feel right charging much more than last year’s price.

Since we only took eight pounds, the plan, which the farmers suggested, is that we wait for another month for late-spring teas, when the plants are growing more quickly and the tea is in greater abundance. At that point, they can afford to take a little less since they are selling so much more. This means that after the limited first-picking sells out, we will have our Spring 2012 Laoshan Green in late May. Mr. He says he expects it to be an excellent picking, so we look forward to it. I trust the He family completely and utterly, so whatever they send is always welcomed.

That is pretty much the way it works. I am happy to share our buying process, and am actually in the process of writing a full sourcing process outline so that customers can see everything that goes into sourcing our teas. We do it a little differently than most others I know in the business.

Hi David,

Thank you for your reply!

I couldn’t be happier with what you have shared with us!

I’m glad you clarified what you meant by, charge a higher price. Somewhere else, I have read something to this effect : “The first picking teas are usually bought up by businessmen looking for gifts for colleagues and government officials.” So, in a sense, regarding the early picking teas (or oftentimes the Pre-Qingming teas) I gather that we pay a premium on them because they are ‘fashionable’ (because the demand for those particular teas drives up the cost). I have been debating on whether not paying extra for those first flush teas is worth it to me; they are of interest to me because my understanding is the first flush teas are theoretically packed with more ‘good stuff’—like the amino acid theanine—but how much more, and at what cost to me? I’m personally not willing to pay something like 50% more for something that may be a little better (taste-wise, nutrition-wise, etc). But, of course, some are.

This is a small detail I appreciate knowing: “I was only able to purchase eight pounds of the first picking, …”

It’s too bad they got a smaller crop “(due to cold weather and picking delays).” Strangely enough, even this piece of information is valuable to me, and helps to create an even stronger ‘bond’ from me to the He family (I am not sure, but I think it’s because they seem more real to me).

I’m glad to hear this: “Mr. He says he expects it to be an excellent picking, so we look forward to it.”

“I must insist on reverse-baragining with them to try and convince them to accept a price that lets them keep doing what they are doing, and allows them to afford more risk-taking in innovation.” This is where the trust for me really comes in. I would be very skeptical hearing this from most other tea retailers, but, for a number of reasons, I trust you are telling the truth here. AND, I totally agree with your logic. It’s about sustainability (and, more than that, it’s out of a sense of fairness, for me, anyway). I wouldn’t feel right drinking tea that was obtained for an unfair price (that ever-so-complicated social justice thing).

I am really looking forward to this, too: "… writing a full sourcing process outline … "

I don’t know for certain, but my guess is you are selling yourself short by stating, “We do it a little differently than most others I know in the business.” I think you are head-and-shoulders above “most others”!

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Bonnie said

I love hearing about the growing and supply process also. I have shared this information with my local Tea House (Happy Lucky’s). They donate 10% of their profits to several charities in Asia, especially those to end human trafficing. The owner was impressed with the new website design, the history of Verdant and the educational videos.

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Kittenna said

$172 an ounce?! O.o

Crazy isn’t it? I’ve seen at least one Korean green tea go for about $65/OZ, but this yellow tea is by far the most expensive tea I have ever seen. Of course, I read an article about some Long Jing going for more per ounce that the current price of gold. : \

Zeks said

Hmmm, hmmm… what to get, Diablo 3 or 10gr of tea… :) D3 won by far :)

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Scott B said

I don’t mind spending a little bit on tea-most I ever spent was around $40 for 50 grams, but yeah, I’d go with Diablo 3 here.

Zeks said

Funny things is:
For Diablo 3 to come out hundreds of people spent years of their life and millions of dollars and it is sold for 60$
For this tea: it pretty much has just grown by itself…yet the price is the same:) (ok, ok, there are expenses for producing it too, but, compared, they are…)

It’s free for Blizz to copy their game as many times as they want, to allow as many who will pay, play. Whereas, this tea may only be a lot of 1kg, or 10kg or however much—it is only expensive because of rarity, not because the amount of work involved. You have to compare rarity of the products, rather than work to produce the product.
I don’t think I’d ever pay $60 for 10g of tea, but 10g of leaf might easily make 520ml of tea (that is, 5g out of 10g might make a 90ml cup, and you can re-steep 3 times or more). Ever had a $60 bottle of wine (usually 500ml – 750ml)? While it’s expensive, I doubt you’d bat an eye at seeing someone selling a bottle of wine for $60…nonetheless, it is still pretty expensive for tea.

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It may have be a few weeks later, but it was worth the wait! The Laoshan Spring teas are in, and they are the sweetest, most refined greens I have had the privilege to taste from Laoshan. I think the cold weather really helped keep the leaves sweet. This first-picking from Laoshan is limited. We were only able to obtain eight pounds of each:

Spring 2012 Laoshan Green:
Spring 2012 Dragonwell Style Laoshan Green:

Also- we just got in a fresh batch of Spring Tieguanyin to replace what sold out so quickly. It is even richer than the first spring picking:

DaisyChubb said

David – they all sound amazingly delicious!
I wasted no time… pretty excited to be a member of the Tea of the Month club now. You’re an amazing tea curator, and the passion and care you put into your relationships (with tea, and others!) is admirable. And an inspiration


I don’t know what else to say – but thank you.

I’m very excited to see the new greens in! Do you know when you will be getting in a new spring picking of Sun Dried Jingshan green?

Thank you for updating us and posting your new arrival here!

This is an interesting observation in your description of the Spring Harvest Laoshan Green: “The leaves are so tender that after the tea is steeped out, you can eat the leaves whole for a sweet, delicate snack.” Awesome!

Amongst other things, I like your note at the very end of the Spring Harvest Dragonwell Style Laoshan Green description: “The He family passes on their thanks.” I love getting any kind of communication at all from the farmers!

It’s too bad the unusually cold spring in China had such a dramatic effect on the output of the harvest. I have a related question to this, although probably not easily answered: As others do in professions that are seasonal, do the tea farmers have other sources of income to help offset any setbacks due to a smaller harvest, or a ‘bad year’, or do they set aside funds from any ‘good years’? I also wonder—although from what I have read I believe this is probably not the case—if they are able to charge proportionally more for their tea to make up the difference (i.e so they still basically bring in the same amount of revenue each year). It would seem, at least to me, if the tea really is better tasting because of the slower growth, it would warrant a higher price. That’s a tough one though, as I judge few (if any) want to pay more for something based simply on a claim that it’s worth the increase in price.

I guess these questions (and answers) are edging toward the hard-to-define socially responsible realm. I am starting to ponder the deeper question here. The way I see it, to start a business, and to stay in business, necessarily means taking risks. And as the old adage goes, ‘You win some, you lose some.’ Still, I assume some things are going to be dramatically different over there than the way things are done here in the West, I just don’t know how different business is really done over there. What I wonder is, Are the tea farmers able to take advantage of the good years to make enough money to offset the bad years? I realize this may be a topic for somewhere else, but since it was ‘on my mind’ I though I would at least ask it here and now. : )

DaisyChubb: Thank you for the kindness. It means a lot to read your words. I am excited to have you in the Tea of the Month program. I am really plotting some great tea experiences for the coming months.

Invader Zim: The farmers in Jingshan recommended that we wait a few more weeks to buy their spring harvest. It seems that the early pickings were very interesting, but a bit thin in body, and the farmers want to send us something a bit thicker and more commanding. Recent pickings have been excellent, so I suspect that we will get a shipment together in the next few weeks.

SimpliciTEA: This is a good question. I can really only speak to the farmers that I know, and the regions that I have visited, but certainly, things are done differently in China than in the west.

First off, big plantations that hire laborers and sell commodity tea, which does account for the majority of the industry, work completely differently than the small farmers. Ironically, they are likely hit harder in bad years since they have wages to pay, infrastructure, equipment, etc. Their profits are going to be distributed among investors and administrators instead of put away in savings.

But to speak to what I know- tea farmers cultivating high-end hand-crafted teas are in a relatively good position. Unlike the west, all the generations of the family live under one roof. The family home has been paid off many years ago. Children are cared for by the elderly while the working generations are in the fields. Everyone kicks in to keep the household together. This, combined with the fact that everyone shares the profits instead of getting wages means that there are very few large expenses that recur year-to-year besides occasional investment in farm equipment. This makes it easier to get through a tough year.

It is easier to withstand a growing season that leads to small quantities of excellent tea, because, of course, the tea will fetch a higher price for its quality on the domestic market. Businessmen in China will pay thousands for rare teas, keeping that extreme high-end market well and alive. Tough years are droughts which mean very little tea, and not particularly good tea. Luckily, Laoshan is right on the ocean, and the mist prevents drought. The farmers there are in a great position.

In addition, China in general is a savings-oriented country. People put away money in good years for a future home, or to pass on to their children. This means a bigger buffer. Finally, tea farmers do not have to charge based on cost. Their tea is not a commodity, it is a craft whose value is determined by desire for the product. The farmers can charge enough to live a comfortable life. The He family has a beautiful house with an inner courtyard, air conditioning, and separate bedrooms for everyone. Their lifestyle is humble but quite comfortable for China. Contrast that to the hold-outs in Laoshan cultivating potato and corn, who live in relative poverty. Most of them are seeing the benefits of tea and switching over their fields.

Missy said

Thanks for sharing. I always wonder about tea farmers. I’m glad the smaller farmers aren’t effected as much as the bigger farms. Some day I would like to see them.

DAVID: Wow, once again you go beyond my expectations in the depth and honesty of your answer!

Lots of good stuff you shared. : )

“The family home (of tea farmers cultivating high-end hand-crafted teas) has been paid off many years ago. … This makes it easier to get through a tough year.” Reading this gives me comfort.

“The He family has a beautiful house with an inner courtyard, air conditioning, and separate bedrooms for everyone.” Yay! This is great to know! I judge they deserve it!

“Contrast that to the hold-outs in Laoshan cultivating potato and corn, who live in relative poverty. Most of them are seeing the benefits of tea and switching over their fields.” Wow. I don’t know for certain, but from what I have read I would think the switch would be good for not only the long term benefit of the ecosystem there, but also for China’s economy and for the tea industry in general.

Knowing that “tea farmers cultivating high-end hand-crafted teas” live in relative comfort makes me feel better about buying high-end tea (especially over ‘cheap’ tea). I think I feel this way because I don’t like to think I am comfortably enjoying the fruits of some farmer’s labors while they struggle just to get by (which I’m not certain, but I gather may be the case for many farmers that harvest tea which is then sold to the large corporations). Because of how I chose to live, most of the tea I buy has to be relatively inexpensive, so I can’t afford to buy much high-end tea; but still, knowing these things makes it easier for me to justify paying more for the ‘good stuff’ when I am able to buy it.

There definitely seems to be a pattern here for me, as your input here helps to create a connection ­_from_ the tea I am enjoying in my cup to the farmers way of life, which in turn makes my experience drinking their tea much more meaningful. I am all about creating connections (or sharing in the creation thereof), and I think things like these are very likely at the heart of what drives the social responsible movement.

I feel that the more I (and others) wonder about and ask these kinds of questions, and the more people like you respond with details about what the reality is in tea producing countries, the more likely it will be that, eventually, the entire system will be ‘socially responsible’, such that there will no longer be a need to differentiate between ‘socially responsible tea’ and just ‘tea’. Dreams only become a reality when we look beyond the barriers that stand in our way and BELIEVE we CAN eventually stand in that place born out of our unbounded imagination, no? : – )

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Tyler D said

Norbu Tea has their first Spring ’12 green tea available:

Thanks! They offer an attractive price for a 10 gram sample as compared with the 50 gram amount. I like tea retailers that have reasonably priced samples (and ones that provide harvest dates!).

I plan to add tea this to my list when I do the topic update.

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Great! I plan to add this tea to my list when I do the topic update.

Your website does not seem to be working properly, btw. Most of the links are way off to the right when viewed in my browser (Firefox).

Thank you.

Website is best viewed in 1280×800 pixels.

Link for the products is

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UPDATE: 5/5/2012:

Life in Teacup:
- White Plum Flower Peak First Harvest
- Meng Shan Cloud Mist Limited Edition
- Lu Shan Yun Wu (Lu Shan Cloud Mist) 800m (2400 ft.) Early Spring Second Harvest
- Lu Shan Yun Wu (Lu Shan Cloud Mist) 300m-900m (1350-2700 ft.) First Harvest Sample Set
- Tong Cheng Small Orchid, semi-wild, 800m (2400 ft.) First Day Harvest
- Yong Xi Huo Qing 1150m (3450 ft.) First Day Harvest

Jing Tea Shop:

Tea Spring:

Tea Trekker:

Camellia Sinensis:

Verdant Tea:

Den’s Tea:

Norbu Tea:

Darjeeling Tea Boutique:

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Update: 5/11/12

Life in Teacup:
- “Mother’s Tea” Limited Edition
- Huang Shan Yun Wu (Yellow Mountain Cloud)
- 1630m (4900 ft.) Jiang Xi Tribute Tea

Tea Spring:

Tea Trekker:

Upton Tea Imports:
ZG99: Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun
ZG45: Pre-Chingming Snow Dragon
ZG93: Pre-Chingming Dragon Beard


Camellia Sinensis:

Den’s Tea:

Darjeeling Tea Boutique:

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UPDATE: 5/19/2012:

Tea Spring: (yellow tea)

Tea Trekker:

Upton Tea Imports:
ZG76: Pre-Chingming Snow Phoenix


Camellia Sinensis: (This is one expensive sencha!)

Norbu Tea:

Tea Cuppa:

Seven Cups:

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