Spring Harvest Report 2014 #9 - Spring Rain's Late Arrival
May 06, 2014
Central Taiwan has finally gotten some rain this past week, but interspersed with some bright sunny mornings in tea country.
This photo was taken on Sunday morning in the Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong region from the balcony of a tea factory. On Saturday afternoon a storm came through when we first arrived, but had cleared by nightfall. Our tea farmer friends got lucky in scheduling their harvest for this sunny morning, as Monday morning brought more rain.
We had planned to visit our Organic High Mountain tea source on He Huan Mountain today to observe and assist in their spring harvest, but rain in northern Nantou County delayed their harvest. Now they must scramble to schedule a team of tea pickers for a later date. This is no easy task, as tea pickers are in highest demand for the remaining of the harvest season. We hope to be able to join them for their rescheduled date.
Mr. Xie has been producing significant quantities of GABA Oolong Tea for several years, but this is the first batch of GABA tea that he processed as a Black Tea. After sharing his hand-picked, naturally farmed GABA Oolong that had been aged for a full year last July, we are excited to share this batch that was harvested last June, and aged 9 months. While these time periods do not qualify as "aging" tea, they do allow the composition of the leaves to mellow and offer a richer, more full-bodied character.
What is called "red tea" (紅茶 / 红茶) in Chinese is known as Black Tea in English. Taiwan has its own special Black Tea named Red Jade Black Tea due to its luminescent reddish-ochre brew. Also known as Taiwan Tea No. 18, Red Jade Black Tea is a hybrid of the Assam tea plant and the wild tea tree that grows naturally in the mountain forests of Taiwan.
After years of honing his GABA tea making skills using Oolong processing methods, Mr. Xie decided to process this harvest as a GABA Black Tea for the first time. The entire harvest amounted to less than 20 kg, and by the time we found out about it, there was barely enough to be shared with our Tea Club members!