Highly unusual weather conditions during this year's spring tea growing season have resulted in considerable damage to the produce. The classic rainy season that typically ensues sometime in March and continues until May still has not arrived. We've had some rainy days, but nothing like the norm of almost daily rain for weeks-on-end. So the new growth on the tea plants has been about 70% of the normal amount.
This detrimental effect was just compounded by an unheard of cold front that came through this past week, causing frost in mountainous regions above 1500 m elevation. In other words, the majority of this year's spring crop of High Mountain Tea was seriously damaged by frostbite—in the middle of April! In Taiwan's subtropical environment, this is extremely unusual weather for this time of year. The absence of rain combined with the frost conditions in most of the high elevation regions has resulted in a yield of about half the normal amount.
The dark patches in these tea gardens show the effect of the frost on the new growth on the tea plants, in contrast to the vibrant green of the leaves that were less damaged. This is what tea farmers must face in their current challenges to their livelihood. Taiwanese news reports that farmers are discussing with local farmers' associations how to apply for government subsidies in the wake of this natural disaster affecting their industry.
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Red Oolong offers a smooth, balanced, mildly sweet, rich but not quite bold flavor profile, with elements of fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and a hint of dried flowers. This ultra-friendly character, combined with the fact that almost all Red Oolong is cultivated naturally on the southeast coast of Taiwan, facing the wide open Pacific, which reminds a North American of Washington State or British Columbia, is no wonder why it is rapidly gaining popularity on the international market. Once again, Taiwan leads the way in Oolong Tea innovation!