Spring Harvest 2014 Report #2 - Mid-Harvest
Lower elevation areas (Mingjian, Nantou) and southern areas (Meishan, Chiayi) have already been harvesting for the last 2-3 weeks. The machine harvested low elevation teas have produced an unusually low-volume yield due to the late spring. With machine harvesting, it is necessary to harvest the top (first) growth off the bush before it becomes too mature. The plants responded to the early weather conditions by growing a bit erratically, in clumps of growth spurts rather than more evenly distributed across the surface. Hence, the yield was low. Perhaps the late spring harvest to follow will be more normal, and probably less than two months from now.
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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.