Friday, June 15, 2012

Drought In Uva

A small producer wrote this

Unfortunately we are having a severe drought which means that our leaf yields have dropped more than expected.. it’s affecting the whole of UVA and i am now forced to go down to 14 day plucking rounds!

So we are drifting into the Uva season, when it is usually dry anyway. Lets hope they get some rain before then.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Japanese Tea update

hello.  Uji is now at the beginning of full production.  it is hotter
season, so the tea is growing fast.
we are buying very carefully as the steaming is not proper with many
teas as the leaves are harder(grown) than the
farmer thinks his leaves are. Matsuda is doing very well, so we are
excited to see the processed tea of
Matsuda in a few weeks.  I believe he is one of the very few who is
doing best in the whole Wazuka.
Kagoshima is now ending its season in a few days.  So far their
quality was not so good in the average.
Shizuoka has now produced one third of their production ability but
the market is crushing already.
we hear they have found very little level of radio active substance,
so the market should go steady than
last year, but it is falling.  it was 2100yen average yesterday which
is about 10% lower than last year.
they say nobody is buying except Itoen, and strangely nobody discusses
about the quality.
It maybe because of the long deflation/depression of the economy, and
the radiation problem, and
mixture of it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just back from Asia

Me and my tasting buddies ( Elvira and Marcus) just went to Taiwan, Fujian, and Hunan. We went a bit later than normal so we could see some oolongs. Most times it is 3 weeks earlier, and we catch the Chinese greens.

We were at the end of the Wenshan production, in the middle of the Dong Ding and at the end of Ali San (in southern Taiwan). And Li Shan had not started yet. It was a good year on the island. I do love the new style of Taiwanese oolongs that have great floral and citrus flavors.  The day up in Ali San was wonderful and sunny, a nice contrast to the rain elsewhere.

We did see lots of Mainland Chinese, and they are having an effect on everything including tea. The prices are going and availability down.

Then it was off to China. First stop was the WuyiShan up in the northern Fujian Province. There was a ton of rain. We stopped by some old friends that make great Yancha (rock oolongs). Things seems to be going well, because the factory is doubled in size. The Chinese like to buy their oolongs. After a great lunch at the factory, we saw a nearby factory and we saw why our friends were successful. There teas are substantially better than their neighbors! All that we ask of them is to tone down the firing, so we can taste the delicious flavors of their oolongs.

Then it was to the southern part of Fujian to see Ti Quan Yin production. This was very interesting in spite of the rain and low clouds. IT was a very pretty area outside of the center of the tea (Anxi), we took lovely pictures. Our guide's tea garden uses reduced amounts of pesticides, so it can qualify for the EU  regulations. Also we saw a new way to make rolled oolong. They use a box that becomes smaller by compression. This is used instead of rolling the tea for 30 times in the traditional method. We will watch  this to see if it creates good tea over time.

Finally we went the Weishan in western Hunan Province. I kept thinking our friend Steve was saying Wuyishan and I was confused. However it Weishan.  I had never been there, so it was a fun trip  (even if it was 6 hours of driving.) Weishan was a very pretty area, in fact Mao loved the area. There is an organic green tea garden that makes wonderful spring tea. So we bought some.

All is all, a wonderful trip. There is always some to learn and enjoy out in Asia.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New teas

The season seems to be in full swing now. It was late but quality seems just fine!

We are getting two nice First Flush Darjeelings: Risheehat and Puttabong. My son, Alex, just got back from Darjeeling. He had a blast filming the First Flush. Our friends in Suzhou are sending some nice Bi Lo Chun. And samples of Lung Ching anyday.  Today I tasted a Shincha Sencha from the very southern Japanese island of Yakushima. I have never had tea from there. It was a deep steamed Sencha with lots of body, but not the nose of a Uji Sencha. 

So we are quite happy to have these new teas

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 teas

OK, after a bit of a delay, the season has started.
When we were in Beijing, it snowed. So it was colder than normal in the tea growing regions of China. However it was warmed up enough to start some production. They say with the rain, they expect good teas.  It was cold in Tokyo also. There was some dispute among tea traders about production in the southern area of Kagoshima. However, it should start in a few more days.  My son Alex, just went up to Okayti today. So I will ask him for the straight story on First Flush Darjeeling. Two auctions in Calcutta were cancelled because lack of tea. A friend said so far all the teas suck, but they were putting in a bid on a Teesta Valley invoice. It is dry over in Darjeeling. More to follow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First word from Darjeeling

This is the time of the year that we put our ears to the tracks to hear what is happening in our favorite places: China and India. Here is our first report from Darjeeling:

After the useful showers in January, February has turned out to be dry and as a result the bushes, along with the producers are looking skywards.
The bushes are ready to sprout those leaves, but the lack of rain is holding them back!

With the January rains we had expected that we would see the first of the true First Flush Invoices by this week, but now it seems, we may have to wait another 7 – 10 days. Therefore, whilst First Flush is not going to be early, as we had thought it might be, what is causing a certain amount of concern is that if there is no rain by around the 15th, there could be a setback in terms of the quantum of good 1st Flush that may be available. The weather has been surprisingly good, with “coolish” temperatures which has resulted in no build up of moisture and therefore the lack of rain.

Rains coming after 20th could result in heavy rains a for a couple of days and this could be detrimental to quality as there could be a rush of crop.

A couple of early invoices from lower elevations are likely to reach Kolkata end of this week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Special Chinese Black Teas

I love Chinese blacks. Nothing like a good Fujian Black: Panyang or Chingwo. Recently the Chinese have been doing great blacks from the Lapsang region: Jin Jun Mei is a good example. And who would not love a Keemun Mao Feng. The complex mixtures of sweet, honey, cocoa, and fruity flavor with a great body do warm my bones. Unfortunately, it appears that I am not the only one who likes it. Now the Chinese are experimenting with black teas. They used to drink green and oolongs, and sell blacks to us Westerners.

 I remember visiting the famous Lapsang factory high up in the beautiful Wuyi Mountains. There was this guy there that was from Beijing that was supervising the workers. He only wanted the best of the best of the early Spring crop. He would show the factory managers how he wanted it done. And he was showing some of the best tea people in China how to improve. He was going back to Beijing and selling for a ton or maybe two.

 We just got this note about another black tea from our Chinese supplier:

 XIN YANG HONG is one kind of Black tea of special quality, as well as it is very expensive also. Perhaps you know, it is crazy for some tea in domestic market in past year, such as Pu-Erh Tea some years ago, and recently special Black Tea is getting crazy, such as Jin Jun Mei and Xin Yang Hong, their prices are about ten thousand yuan RMB half kilo and more.

 Fyi, we can't supply XIN YANG HONG at moment because these tea have been sold out already, fresh XIN YANG HONG from 2012 crop will be available in May/June 2012.

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Tea Taster at Harney and Sons ---