Spring Harvest 2014 Report #1 - Winter into Spring
The weather this spring started out cold and dry – basically an extended winter season. This delayed the growing season of spring tea, particularly at higher elevations and in more northern areas. The extended winter conditions are mostly seen as positive - allowing the plants to “hibernate” or remain in their dormant phase. In the last couple weeks spring weather has arrived with warmer temperatures and frequent rainfall. If it continues this way, and does not proceed to rain too much or too little, prospects are looking good – especially for higher elevation areas.
State of growth as of Sunday March 30, 2014 in Lugu Township, Nantou Taiwan. 600m.
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The medium oxidized leaves have undergone extensive, repeated roastings that have resulted in a very balanced, integrated character. The initial steepings offer a freshly cut wood aroma with a toasted nutty flavor. This proceeds to open up into a sweeter, more complex profile that is strikingly reminiscent of roasted winter vegetables, including parsnip, caramelized onion and butternut squash.
Mr. Zhang's father cultivated tea on their homesteaded land in Xiaobantian, on the southside of Lugu Township, where he grew up in the midst of traditional tea making. At 20 something, he decided to embody his local tradition by clearing land to cultivate his own plot of tea. For the last 20 years, he has managed his own humble, privately owned plot of tea. Throughout this period, he also acquired seasonal work in tea factories in Lugu, Shanlinxi, Alishan, Fanzaitian, and Lishan. In a word, he learned the ropes of tea making in a comprehensive way, like most tea farmers of his generation. Lugu hosts the highest concentration of tea makers in Taiwan, and is a hub of specialty tea making culture.